Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beyond what you see on the outside

Just because Type 1 gamers don’t look sick it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve a cure.

As we embark on another year of JDRF fundraising through the Walk to Cure Type 1 Diabetes as well as the Mike’s Bike Shop Cyclebetes 200 ride to cure Type 1 Diabetes, our challenge is once again trying to compete with all of the other worthwhile causes.

There are so many other diseases out there with their images of thin, debilitated victims. Personally, I often think that it seems easier for them to touch our hearts and for us to reach into our pockets to support the search for better treatments and a cure for their ailment. Humans are likely more apt to help those that look sick, the sicker the better. It’s just the way it is.

Type 1 gamers have 2 major things against them in regards to society’s perception and willingness to support the search for a cure:

1 – Stereotypes about “Diabetes” as a whole meaning not understanding the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 which is often associated with phrases like “Can be reversed” or “Can be controlled with diet” or “Caused by poor lifestyle choices”. Type 1 Diabetes is in no way caused by lifestyle. Type 1 Diabetes cannot be prevented. Type 1 Diabetes usually strikes innocent children, often with no family history of the disease.

2 – Before complications arise, Type 1 gamers generally look very, very healthy on the outside. They run, they play, they work and often thrive. Aside from Adele’s insulin pump clipped to her belt, infusion set (that is usually hidden under her clothes) and calloused finger tips she looks as healthy as all of her non-Diabetic friends.

Type 1 gaming is like living a double life. There is not one aspect of our life that isn’t affected by it. It’s always there and must be dealt with 24/7 without any exceptions yet we don’t talk about it all of the time. Type 1 gaming always seems to take place in the background, behind closed doors. Society is generally frightened by the sight of blood or needles, so Type 1 gamers tend to test and inject insulin in private.

Even if the pain and suffering isn’t always apparent on the outside, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Type 1 gamers deserve better. We deserve a cure.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Flow State

Even with all my good intentions, I really haven’t been good at all at updating this blog. As of late, it seems that all that I can do is just follow the current of my life. I’m tired, not depressed, and just living in a constant “flow state”.

I’m not really sure if this is a realization that comes with age, or if it’s related to living with a chronic illness, but a few months ago, it suddenly hit me that I’m going to die. Until now, I had never really, really thought of this. I mean, I was just way too busy living. But in reality, it is one of the rare sure things that eventually happen to every single living organism on this planet. There is absolutely no way of avoiding it. The death of our physical body is inevitable. I mean, like everyone, I’d learned this as a child, but I had never really, really thought about the reality of it until now.

Personally, in a way, this knowledge has actually been a relief. It’s like studying for an exam when you know you have absolutely no chance of passing. All of a sudden, the stress and pressure of doing well dissipates and goes away. Studying becomes much more enjoyable and simply an opportunity to gain knowledge that will enrich your life. What I’m trying to say is that no matter how fit, healthy and strong I make my physical body, my final outcome is the same as everyone else, our physical bodies are going to die. On our death beds, we are all the same. The same as the chain smoker, the millionaire, the homeless drug addict, the superfit professional athlete. Our physical bodies all become fertilizer.

As a Type A personality perfectionist, being bombarded with all this advice as to what we should eat, how active we need to be and how we need a certain expensive product to enhance our life, it made me realize that even if I diligently follow each and every one of these guidelines that the outcome in the end is still the same – fertilizer. As a Type 1 gamer, the logic is the same. Even if I manage to attain excellent control, the end result is still the same as everyone else including non-gamers…

One of the best feelings that I get from riding my bicycle is carving through buff single track on my mountain bike. At speed, the whole thought process ceases and everything seems rather reflex based. Your body just seems to maneuver the machine automatically. You’re not thinking about how you’re riding, you’re just riding. This is probably the main reason why people like myself become addicted to riding bikes. This “flow state” brings you to the root of what it means to be alive. It strips out all of the “bullshit” that’s in our head and enables our body to make all of the decisions instead. This feeling of no-mind is incredibly powerful.

So the epiphany of realizing the true meaning of the old proverb “Don’t take life too seriously, no one gets out alive” has me seemingly living in a constant “flow state” not only on my bike but in Type 1 gaming as well. I’m letting my body play the game instead of my mind. We calculate carbs and insulin bolus amounts, correct lows and highs and just move on. When in this “flow state”, there is no dwelling on the past or looking too far ahead in the future.

I’m not really sure if I like this yet. I mean on one hand it’s the closest that I’ve been to really living in the NOW I guess, but on the other hand, during our last Diabetes clinic appointment, we were told that Adele's A1C was great but... she was having too many lows. We were just dealing with them and moving on without analyzing why and attempting to make the appropriate corrective changes.

In a way, it seems like you just can’t win while playing the Type 1 game… But then again is it really worth getting upset about since the final outcome is always the same – fertilizer?