This is my second time participating in Diabetes Blog Week and like last year, I am overwhelmed at the idea of publishing a blogpost every day for seven days. In the middle of 2014 Blog Week, I secretly swore that I would never participate again. But I managed to stick with it. By the end of the week I was exhilarated with the passion and talent of my fellow diabetes bloggers and was proud to have participated. So here we go for the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week! As always, thanks to Karen Graffeo of Bitter~Sweet™ for being the brains behind this project and organizing it for the sixth year.
Today’s Topic: In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life? (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.) To read all of the posts in this category, click here.
I was ignorant about diabetes when I was diagnosed as a young adult in 1976. It never dawned on me that it would change the direction of my life and no one told me that it might limit anything that I hoped to do. As I sit here 38 years later, I like to think that I have not been held back by diabetes although I know that many things have been more difficult because of the constant demands of Type 1.
I think the one thing that I do that others are often amazed by is hiking. I spend a third of the year in Arizona and when I am there, I hike once or twice every week. My Friday hikes are not for the faint of heart and I join a group of friends on excursions that average 10-12 miles. Most of the hikes are in mountainous areas and often we are in areas with very little traffic and no cell phone coverage. The scenery is fabulous. The fellowship of this tight-knit group of women is inspiring. Every week is a challenge and I begin each season of hiking with the fear that this is the year that it will be “too hard” for me.
I have mixed feelings about how my Type 1 diabetes is viewed in this group. On one hand, I feel safe with these women because two of them are nurses and one has a sister with Type 1. The others are strong, confident women who wouldn’t faint at the sight of a Glucagon needle. I have never once felt that anything about my health is a burden to the group. The thing that makes me uneasy is the universal conviction that I am the model of someone who has her diabetes totally “in control.” It’s the idea that I “do diabetes” better than other people and the belief that I am somehow different from other people with diabetes.
I work hard at caring for myself, but I am a long ways from being perfect. My days are filled with good decisions peppered with less than optimal choices. I believe that I am lucky to have no severe complications after so many years of diabetes and I definitely know others who have not been as lucky. I realize that I have been the beneficiary of good insurance and have always had access to the hardware, supplies, and medications that allow me to live an active life. So I am uncomfortable being labeled “the good diabetic.”
At the same time I need to remember to take pride in what I do. I can hike because I work hard to stay in shape. I can hike safely because I am neurotically organized and am prepared with adequate food, water, and back-up diabetes supplies. I can hike because I am willing to push my boundaries while keeping a realistic view of my capabilities. I can hike because diabetes has been kinder to me than to some others. I can hike because…well, I just can.
Take that, Diabetes!
I like it… “Take that, Diabetes!” Great post, Laddie. I often battle that whole “need to be perfect” mindset, even though I know it’s not a question of being perfect and that’s not what I am actually going for. Sometimes I push myself to do more than I probably should, in part because I don’t want to feel like I couldn’t and even start to think D had anything to do with that. Constant struggle. Great to read this and realize how much I need to start getting back on my own bike and getting into better shape, to prove to myself that I can.
Well said, Laddie. Take that, diabetes! We try our best every day and that is really all we can ask of ourselves. I am too hard on myself for not being perfect as well. As my doctor told me recently, “There is not perfect with diabetes. There is good enough, which is a lot of hard work in and of itself.”
I too battle with the “need to be perfect” mentality. I try hard but perfection is not something I’ve every achieved (in diabetes and the rest of my life). But, you make such a good point that while we may not be perfect, we DO have to be proud of all we do for ourselves. I’m glad you love to hike and get to do it often. I can’t imagine the beauty you get to see.
That’s the message we, whatever type of diabetes we have, should get across – we can because we can!
Great post, Laddie! Hiking is something that I enjoy as well, and I always take my camera with me. 🙂 Lots of love!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed at publishing 7 posts in 7 days! And your hiking experiences sound amazing! And give yourself some credit too – I’m sure its not just because diabetes has been kind to you that you’ve succeeded 🙂
I hope you know just what an inspiration you are. And I can bet I’m not the only one who thinks so!!
Thanks so much for your post! I am a Type 1 LADA and I started insulin 8 months ago. At first I was petrified to exercise let alone hike. But recently while visiting south africa I took the plunge and started hiking around the coast. I was surprised to find my blood sugar stayed quite steady throughout the entire hike… and like you I was super prepared. One day I’d like to do more than a day hike and really explore the beauty of South Africa on foot…
Take that, diabetes indeed! You are such a wonderful person and I’m glad that diabetes has connected us. My goal: to hike with you next time you’re in AZ…but NOT 10-12 miles! 😉
“Take that, Diabetes”, is exactly how I see you! You’re such an inspiring person you exude that wherever you go (I speak from experience). I am so fortunate to have you as a friend. I adore your “Can Do” attitude. xoxo
I am glad you are able to get out there and enjoy your hikes Laddie. I miss hiking. We were on a little road trip last week and went past a really steep mountain. I asked my nephew if he wanted to climb it. I was wondering if I could with my walker! I love the term “neurotically organized” – I might have to borrow that one!
Exactly… remember to pat yourself on the back once in a while. Nobody’s perfect, but nobody is a complete failure either. Here’s to many, many more hikes!
Nice! What a beautiful picture… I too love to hike, but don’t get to do it since I moved away from Vancouver (not a lot of hiking in Texas where we live). I miss it a lot. So glad that you have a great group to hike with and that you feel safe.
Laddie, you are amazing! You are such a motivator too! I couldn’t imagine hiking 10-12 miles every Friday! I bet it’s a great feeling and you probably get amazing photos! I love the one you shared-that huge rock doesn’t look like it will stay put!
Laddie – YOU ROCK!
Great post with an awesome ending! I’m a hiker too and love the physical and mental benefits it provides.
I get that “compliment” sometimes, too — and it’s a compliment I’d rather do without. From my coworkers, from my in-laws, and even sometimes from my endo; they tell me that I’m doing everything right (trust me — I’m not). Perhaps I’ll elaborate in a blog post of my own someday, but to simplify, I don’t think it’s fair to compare me to others, nor is it fair to others to compare them to me. Let me make my own personal goals and gauge my own success relative to those goals.
And for that reason, I will not congratulate you on your achievements, because I don’t know how you perceive them in the context of your overall goals and aspirations.
Lucky to avoid complications, sure. But you do also do the whole thing so well. I mean I know someone *could* do all of the things you do in regard to self-care (the 12 mile hikes, the low carb diet, the balanced outlook on life…) and not have the same results, but…you really are an inspiration for how to do this thing. Scrupulously caring, wise, and balanced!
What a fun blog to look at!
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