My Diabetes, my way* or “How to set up bike handlebars”

My Diabetes, my way* or “How to set up bike handlebars”
My Diabetes, my way* or “How to set up bike handlebars”

So first up, apologies for stealing the name of the NHS Scotland Diabetes portal, but it seemed, well, apt, and lets face it, the second part is just a link back to the conversation that started this post…

Following a long, and really quite emotional discussion on twitter in response to the @brickabetes picture below:

Followed by the statement “I wouldn’t want a day off Diabetes as you’d have to go back to it the next”, made by a teenage type 1, it raised a lot of interesting discussion about how people feel about their T1D and whether they would or wouldn’t want to take a day off.

It’s obviously an emotional discussion as it gets to the heart of living with a long term condition from which there is no respite. But it also made me question my feelings towards diabetes and how they compare to those of others. A little self introspection is sometimes a good thing.

So let’s put this into perspective before I start. I’m now 40. I’ve had it since I was 13, so over 27 years, and I’ve never really let it stop me doing anything (except Scuba diving with BSAC – whole other story). I’m kind of into my second career having started as a Technologist and moved into something else. I went to Uni. I’ve spent lots of time in the UK, out of the UK, travelling around the world. I’ve survived food poisoning myself in Bangkok, swimming the mile from boat to beach when travelling the Whitsunday Islands, driving cars around racetracks, playing cricket for more than half my life, sometimes in exotic places. I think I’ve had a full and successful life so far, and I’ve another four score years that I intend to continue doing so.

Why is this important? Well I don’t recall in that time ever thinking “Oh, the diabetes. I’d like to get off it for a day”, in a conscious manner. I’ve talked about going through a period where testing was something I didn’t really do, but I never thought about stopping taking insulin because I wanted a day without the D there. I’ve often mentioned it’s My diabetes, but I think that’s an important point.

What seems to be interesting about this statement is that it’s at odds with what a lot of people feel about their diabetes, or at least what many in the DOC think about it. It made me wonder about how people approach these aspects of their life, and more importantly, how do I? As Lydia, one of the participants in the conversation said, “This quote links to my T1”:

And I suppose you must. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped, so this is good advice. It’s also very relevant to dealing with Diabetes. If you worry about the past, you will stop moving forward. Live in the now, not the past, or you will always run the risk of potentially falling off.

Speaking for myself, I don’t really consider Type 1 Diabetes as “This thing I have”. Sure, it’s a thing. And I have it. But I also have a knackered shoulder, wobbly fingers and a bad left big toenail that falls off every year from playing twenty-five years of cricket and trying to emulate Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose. I have a pair of glasses which I have to wear because I inherited bad eye genes from one or the other side of my family. I have a corn as the result of not quite walking properly which results in abnormal pressure on the sole of one of my feet. And I have a sense of humour that’s often in the gutter. I like to think I’m bright, but then that also highlights that I may be a bit arrogant. I have confidence that I can achieve things, and I have ambition. I’m a person with diabetes, but also a photographer, festival goer, cricketer, lover, house owner, brother.

So what’s my point? “I” am a compound of all of the things that have happened to me, the experiences I’ve had, the genes of my parents and ancestors and the world I live in. Diabetes is simply one of those things. It’s a part of me and it’s part of what makes me how I am. Do I wish I could have a day off? Well, no. I’m not concerned that it is something that gets in the way of my life and that I have to think about constantly. It simply isn’t. It’s just something that I deal with when it’s necessary to deal with it, like that bad shoulder.

Now maybe I’ve been lucky and not experienced the ups and downs that seem to affect many people with regard to managing the condition. Maybe I’ve just got a hard headed attitude to these things. Maybe I’ve come to the conclusion there is more to life than just focusing on the D. I suspect it’s all of these, and probably a lot more.

For me what was striking about the entire conversation was that it highlights that we each have to find our own way through. Would I have said this ten years ago? Yes, I would. Twenty years ago? I think so. Twenty five? Maybe not. Who knows. I can’t go back and interview my 15 year old self to find out. I just know that he was resolute that it wouldn’t stop him doing anything and that he’d do stuff in spite of rather than because of diabetes.

Coming back to the bike. You might have noticed that the handlebars aren’t quite adjusted properly. I’m sure they work like that for someone. And that’s the crux of it. We each ride our bike with the handlebars adjusted differently. I’ve worked out the best and most comfortable position for mine. How are yours set up?

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