There are probably other threads like this, but I was just thinking about newly diagnosed people on here... been reading some posts and I just thought: who wants to brag about their various heroic feats since diagnosis with diabetes (especially dependence on insulin)? It's easy to say diabetes doesn't have to limit your life, but how about some anecdotal examples?
I like this topic, though what comes to mind is as much the opposite of bragging as it is bragging.
I used to do a fair bit of alpine climbing. Mixed alpinism, rock, snow, and ice, mostly in the European Alps, classic mild to moderately technical ridge routes rather than more technical face routes, summer time. A few years after I was diagnosed a dozen years back, I did my first serious climb while on insulin. I was on MDI at the time. I don't remember the exact details, but I think at the suggestion of my endo I reduced my basal by 50 percent the day before the trip started.
The first day of the trip was a long climb up tricky glacier terrain in a full-blown white out snow storm. Due to the basal insulin on board, intense physical activity, and probably also altitude, I simply could not keep my blood sugar up. I consumed almost all the emergency carbs in my backpack, intended to last me a week of climbing. Physically it was simply brutal to stay focused, keep moving, and stay alive, though it was episodic, i.e. at times I felt stronger.
Near the end of the day, we got off the glacier onto some semi-technical cliffs above which we were going to crash for the night in a hut. The terrain was manageable enough that we unroped, and my two climbing buddies, eager for the shelter of the hut, climbed on ahead. My body was pretty wiped at this point, and I gradually got weaker, and I remember how hard it was to to keep moving. I finally made it to the hut, and when I got inside, I sat against the wall and found I didn't have the finger strength to undo my boots.
Eventually one of my buddies checked in on me and helped me get out of my gear. Later that evening we had a very stern talk, where I made it clear that roped up or not, we were always going to have eyes on each other, and we were either a team or we were going home. I was worried the physical toll would make it hard to climb the following days, but in part due to the weather, we ended up building in two rest days, and the trip was a success.
Climbing made me feel like superman, but over time I've lost my taste for the pain of it and I feel less invincible than I once did. And I've gotten a lot better at managing my sugars during both more and less intense physical activity!
I'll attach a pic from that trip, this was taken a few days into the trip.
There may be some people that feel diabetes don't limit their lives but I'll never believe that. I've only been diagnosed for about 2 weeks and there are already severe limitations on my life. Before I was eve diagnosed, it took it's toll by causing me to get lower grades in 2 subjects. All last semester I was suffering the symptoms of diabetes but didn't know it.
I could name many ways my life is limited by diabetes, some might go away but the big one will always be there, the responsibility that it puts on me. My body is no longer automatic, I must consciously control my metabolism, 24/4, or risk complications or even death. I must do this alone because nobody can do it for me. My only hope is a cure that may never come. I'll be a t1 forever.
But that doesn't define you and it doesn't even necessarily need to limit you. There's relatively little you can't do now that you could do before. Yes, it's more complicated, and it takes more effort. But if it matters to you, you can do almost anything, personally and professionally, than you might have done before. Don't wait around for a cure, live your life now in whatever way you choose! Sorry to sound like a Hallmark card, but seriously, you got this. I'm all the more confident saying that after watching how maturely and constructively you've dealt with your diagnosis the past weeks.
When I was first diagnosed many moons ago, I was still in my 20s and recently married. The doctor that I was working with at the time said to me,“You weren’t planing on having any children, were you?” She had a funny look on her face when I said, “Of course I am!”
I gave birth to two daughters who are now in their 20s.
I wouldn't call any of the outdoor sports I've done heroic, but looking back I can honestly say that diabetes did not hold me back. I bicycled all over the San Francisco Bay Area and the Peninsula, including most of the back country trails.
Back in the early 90s, I bicycled from Portland to Ashland, Oregon, with a large group of fellow cyclists that was like a moving party! That was over 400 miles and thousands of feet of elevation changes in the Cascade mountains.
I spent a week back-country cycling in southern Utah, near Moab. I peddled for two weeks in Ireland traveling from town to town, over hill and dale. I've many fine memories of active days followed by Guinness-filled music sessions in the pubs.
I mountain-biked and camped for a week down in Baja California, Mexico in 1989.
I've single-handed my 33-foot sailboat on San Francisco Bay heeled over in gusty 35 knot winds. When I described this activity to my endo at the time, she about had a coronary! Life is tasteless without the salt of danger! Diabetes did not hold me back. I've sailed single-handed from the Bay down to Half Moon Bay and back. That's about 30 miles from my home dock.
Just recalling these adventures makes me want to plan some more!
Wow! Incredible memories.
Give yourself time, Madison. You are young and have many adventures yet in store for you. Most of life's limits are self-imposed.
Your new reality feels burdensome now, but your load will lighten.
I’m not a fan of comments which assert you can do anything you set your mind to with diabetes. You may be able to do almost anything (try enlisting in the Marines) but you certainly can’t do everything that you could have done without the disease. The fact is that T1 has had a big impact on my life. It has forced me to cut back on work (not a bad thing), radically narrowed my diet and limited the pleasure I get from food, made it travelling more difficult. Diabetes just takes a lot of time and organization.
I don’t complain. I still have a full life but happy talk and especially bragging leaves me cold. Madison is right. Having to think like a pancreas is an imposition and a limit. And it’s fine for her or any rookie to mourn for the losses. But we go on. If we’re careful and a little lucky we do well. There’s an old slogan attributed to Croce - Pessimism of the experience, optimism of the will.
I forgot about my other travels. Since I've been diagnosed with diabetes, I've traveled to China, England (2), Ireland (3), Mexico (2), Hawaii (too many to count), Iceland, Canada (Vancouver, BC and Montreal), France, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Australia (2). I've visited or traveled through 35 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
I've dealt with adjusting insulin for changing time zones and going psychedelic-hypo with no back up sugar as the lone passenger on a commuter rail car returning to Sydney, Australia after a full day of cycling. It ended safely with no 911.
Diabetes slowed me down at times but didn't defeat me.
Of course diabetes is a limitation–and a worse one than many–but every single person on the planet has limitations due to their height, allergies, chromosomes, chronic sinus congestion, whatever. Those things as well can limit whether you can be a jockey, a beekeeper, birth a child, or go SCUBA diving. I was just inviting positive examples of things that people can do.
And the bragging / heroic thing is meant to be light-heated.
Anyhoo, my list after 5 years:
-Backpacked 500 miles in 5 weeks (solo) (frio insulin backs are a more important invention for me than my CGM)
-Grand Canyon descent / ascent in a day
-Irregular shift work as a volunteer EMT
-Third degree black belts in two martial arts (alright this was not entirely accomplished in 5 years)
-Fell in love and married
-Spent 4 days digging up 20 % of a cement driveway with hand tools before cracking, renting a jackhammer, and finishing in 20 minutes.
Actually… it’s been a pretty darned awesome 5 years.
AWESOME photo, niccolo.
Earned the title of unlimited master mariner-- that means can be captain of any ship on the planet. They don’t just hand the keys of oil tankers and container ships over to anyone. Not to mention, raised a family including a very special son who makes me more proud now every day than words can ever describe.
Please believe me when I say I know exactly how you feel and why you’d say all that. Then please also believe be when I tell you you’re wrong. I’ve been in the same exact position you’re now in. I know it feels like the world as you know it is over, but it’s not. You’ll get a handle on this… It will become a new normal, and not necessarily a terribly unpleasant one. This will not defeat you. It will only limit you as much as you allow it to. Over time, after you’ve learned to effectively manage the new reality, you will be fine.
I think the idea of this post is great.
I realize now more than ever, I was never told growing up that I couldn't do something because of my diabetes. We just adapted and found ways to make it work. Here's my list of what I've done in 21 years of diabetes.
From about age 12, had a half acre vegetable garden every year. This meant putting in 30 metal fence posts with a sledge hammer every spring, and ripping them out by hand in the fall. I wrestled a 300 pound rototiller around, and operated a farm tractor. Did any of this ever run my sugars low? Sure did, but I treated and got back to it. I grew everything: lima beans, tomatoes, string beans, peppers, corn, strawberries, watermelon, potatoes, and some other odds and ends.
I spent most of my diabetic childhood walking miles of woods and swamp behind my house, making paths where there were none, exploring, and just having fun. As a teenager, I started riding four wheelers (ATVs) in the field by my house, and then later on a very hilly field with swamp areas. Some of those hills were almost straight up. Given the chance to do it again, I'd pass on some of those hills now that I am a bit older and wiser. I had a small trail pack on the four wheeler where I carried my meter, snacks, drinks, and a cell phone in case I got into trouble. Did I ever have to stop and wait for a low to resolve, yes, but I still rode.
In high school, I joined the fire company, and was a volunteer firefighter for quite a few years . I worked for about 5 years as a 911 operator. That involved rotating 12 hour shifts, 2 days, followed by 2 nights, and then 4 days off. Other than making sure I took my insulin properly, and keeping my sugar in check, diabetes was not an issue here.
I've purchased and rebuilt a boat. Stripped all the way down to the bare fiberglass hull. In doing so, I learned fiberglassing, bettered my woodworking skills, and learned more about mechanical topics like engine repair. I've taken solo trips out on the boat, and again, diabetes was a non issue as long as it was properly managed.
The only thing limiting what you can do is you. Get out there and enjoy life.
I was diagnosed 31 years ago. My parents made sure I did not let D get in my way of achieving ANY goal I set my mind to. I was an elite gymnast, played basketball and softball through high school and college. Got married and had 3 beautiful and healthy children. I've traveled many places in my lifetime and other than a little bit of extra planning, it was a breeze. I've had several jobs that have challenged me both physically and mentally.
Diabetes will not get in my way. It will not kill me if I have anything to do with it. To repeat what ryryguy said....get out there and LIVE LIFE.
Awesome pic Niccolo! I'm impressed. And, awesome achievements, everybody else. This is the best time, in the world, to be a diabetic, madison. I have never before believed a cure was coming, but now I do. I think its coming, so you better hurry up and learn what its like to be a diabetic, before its too late, and they get you on an AP, in five years. Defining moments and challenges always teach you something. You might not like it, but years down the road, you will realize that you learned important things about the world from it. You'll appreciate it, eventually, trust me. :)
I'm with on the food enjoyment issue. I used to get lots of pleasure from food, now it's a complicated nuisance. And my tolerance of B.S. from people has greatly diminished.
I’m fascinated by the different perspectives here. This might seem like a silly questions, but can you guys give examples of food you can no longer enjoy? Are we talking OJ, or unlimited pasta, or is this more general?
I have a very similar diagnosis story as you (I was diagnosed about a year and a half ago as a senior in high school), and it does get a lot easier once you get into a routine.
Scary enough, my grades ended up improving after my diagnosis. I was feeling a lot better and had a lot more energy, and I ended up relating a lot of the concepts I was learning to my diabetes. It's a huge relief knowing that I have one less endocrine organ I need to study about the night before an anatomy exam (and that my knowledge of it will most likely be beyond the breadth of the course).
I see my diabetes a motivator for me to become healthier. Yes, I need to be aware of what I am eating and eat generally healthier, but it has caused me to develop a love of vegetables and really good food (I am not going to inject myself for terrible-tasting food). I also need to consciously control my endocrine system, but, after being placed on an insulin pump, it has gotten to the point where I control my diabetes and not the other way around.
Thank you for this thread. I'm a newly diagnosed (9/30/14) Type 1, and I've really been struggling. I have always been kind of an anxious person, and having to deal with various diabetes issues has not helped!
I appreciate hearing about your heroic feats :) mainly because if you all can act heroically, then I should be able to at least function normally. One of the things that frightens/depresses me the most is travel. I had spent a lot of my life being a chicken about travel, but then in the past 5 years I went with my husband to Finland, England and Italy (twice). Now I'm so stressed about carb counting and worrying about dosages that I hardly want to go out in my own town, let alone to another country again. I'm going to trust you all that it does get a little easier.