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[IP] What life is possible to a diabetic?
As a child, growing up in poverty, with little respect for my peers or
parents, feeling always like a stranger in a strange land, always looking
for someone I could respect and admire -- I planned to design spacecraft
(astronautical engineering via the Air Force Academy), study astrophysics,
run marathons, write novels, find a way to become wealthy... and never,
never to take life for granted, never to waste my potential, never to live
less than the fullest life I could.
That's a snapshot when I was nine years old. I had no idea that life would
be even more magnificent than I imagined.
Instead of astronautical engineering, I detoured into religion and
philosophy when I was 15. I still got to study astronomy with Pasachoff in
1992, got an NSF grant for research in materials science in 1994, and now I
settle for watching the progress of science from the sidelines. I thrill to
read about it, casually, in little bits of free time as I can snatch them.
It's really no skin off my nose. My passions lie elsewhere, and I am
engrossed in them.
I injured my back when I was 19. A daredevil who rides broncos and cliff
dives and free climbs and does somersaults off anything, I was brought down
by a simple, relatively innocuous run down a mountain. It has taken, so
far, almost 6 years of my life from me.
I would readily have chosen IDDM over the simple back injury, given the
choice. Diabetes is far less cramping.
Now, as of this spring, I seem -- finally! -- to be able to run again. I
ran a 10-miler as my first race, 5 weeks ago. I ran 11 miles last Tuesday,
and 8.5 miles on Wednesday, just because I happened to feel good on those
days -- on bad days I work to grind out 3-4 miles, then quit.
Today I completed my first ever biathlon. Sure, I was the only person
running with a fanny pack, which holds my pump, my glucometer, and
emergency snacks. But I was on top of the world. I completed the 6 miles of
running in 34:35; the 15 miles of cycling also was easy, considering it was
my first time. I even had my characteristic, full-out, arm pumping, lighter
than air, calm smile-on-my-face kick for the last 150 meters of the race.
This summer I will compete my first triathlons. In October or January I
will run my first marathon.
And perhaps, a couple years from now, I will be back on the track I was on
when I was 19. Perhaps the Ironman: a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle, 26.2
mile run. A competitive time is around 10 hours. But what I really would
enjoy, if I could afford to take this much time from my work, would be to
run the Raid Gauloise: it takes 10 days to complete; or the Eco-Challenge.
Sleep is optional, and obviously detrimental to your overall time. Packing,
running, climbing, swimming, kayaking, rappelling, on and on, losing skin,
losing other competitors as they fall out, losing blood. Using a very
different basal rate, I would imagine. Relying on team members who
hopefully remain coherent enough to figure out that I'm wacky from insulin,
and not from fatigue or exertion, like my ex-girlfriend who could spot
hypoglycemia before I could, from my skin or my eyes or a slackness in my lip.
These experiences are possible in the life of a diabetic.
My back injury was an obstacle to this portion of my life, which is a small
portion, but one which gives life yet another facet of wonder and energy.
My diabetes, I think, will not prove to be an obstacle. I think that a
diabetic is capable of these things, and if I don't make it, I believe it
will be from financial choices and career choices, or from injuries, rather
than from diabetes.
Diabetes is expensive, but it's not holding me back from my intellectual
career. It takes money that I might otherwise be investing, and I scrimp
and cut corners and re-use supplies and skip testing, but diabetes is not
what's holding me back from earning my first (of many) millions.
I am thoroughly grateful to the technology and progress in medicine which
has enabled me to remain healthy with diabetes. Therefore I am grateful to
the doctors and researchers, people who I understand well -- and I know
they were motivated by profits, by their love for their work, by their high
salaries, by the promise of revenue streams from patented insulin pump
supplies. I don't believe they were motivated by a desire to help me,
though I am sure they are proud of what they do, because of the benefit it
gives us; and for many of them, I bet that pride was their motive, which
drove them to create the technologies which enable all of us to live. Good
for them. At least, I like to think that they were such good people who
made my life possible.
I am grateful to the profits made by companies like Minimed: without those
profits, my pump, R2D2, would not be here by my side, beeping and clicking
and humming; and without similar profits, which the Eli Lilly company knew
it would enjoy from developing new insulins... perhaps I would not be here.
But the question of: To what do we owe our gratitude? is a different
subject. I was writing about what type of life is possible to a diabetic.
Well, I'm a diabetic, so I guess I'm living that life everyday. My god is
it fantastic! Every second of being alive is sacred to me. The challenges I
face, which I earn so much happiness and pride in meeting successfully, are
sacred to me.
And when I think about the factors that make my life difficult, and the
factors which often prevent me from attaining my goals, and which are
obstacles to -- for example, climbing Mt. Everest, or starting my own
companies, or overhauling America's educational system, or going on jaunts
in the jungles of South America, or funding my own research institutes --
well, the factors preventing me from doing these things do not include my
My greatest difficulties and obstacles in life are probably psychological
factors in my own personality; and perhaps soft choices I make, such as
when I chose in college to study my own interests a little more rather than
do my coursework diligently, or when I chose to ignore financial statements
or bills because I just can't think about those silly 'little' things.
These are limiting factors; but not diabetes.
The life possible to a diabetic is a glorious one... What a wonderful,
wonderful life. Diabetes, or no.
Insulin-Pumpers website http://www.bizsystems.com/Diabetes/
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