Guest Post: Insulindependence in NC!
Harry Thompson is awesome, and aside from being one of the wordsmithiest people I've met and having one of the cutest kids ever, he's a fellow PWD. And he's looking to connect with other people with diabetes who have exercise not only as part of their health management regimen, but as a passion. Today, Harry is guest posting about his involvement with Insulindependence, and looking for some North Carolina local PWD!
I was diagnosed with type 1 shortly before my 12th birthday. I've always been an active person - I played baseball throughout high school, rowed competitively in college, and have been an avid runner, cyclist, and occasional triathlete in my adult life. (Of course that's become harder as I get older, with work, family, and toddler-wrangling, but those are challenges already well-documented by the proprietor of this fine blog.)
I ran my first half-marathon in roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes. That's not really impressive from a competitive standpoint...there are people who have run full marathons in less time. The reason I mention the time is that the duration of a single athletic event is longer than the combined time I've spent with my endocrinologist in the past two years. I don't mean that as a complaint, really. He's a great doctor, and I think I've done everything I can to milk every drop of goodness out of our time together - I see him 3-4 times a year, I bring all of my logs and graphs, and have all my questions prepared in advance. However, it seems that whenever I would ask my endo about how to prepare for an upcoming event or race, the answer was something like: "No one has ever asked that before. I would say cut your basal in half and test every hour. Let me know how that goes! Also, here are a couple of book titles you can check out."
I get it. He's an endocrinologist, not an exercise physiologist. I imagine many of his appointments are an uphill battle of getting patients to test their blood sugar and take their meds on a regular basis, so it's hard to be prepared for the questions from people that are trying to push their personal limits. And even if he was more familiar with that end of the spectrum, he's not there during the months of training, or the day before the race, or the morning of the race when I wake up at 300 mg/dl for no reason. So like many other things with diabetes, I had to figure it out for myself.
For many years, I truly felt like I was by myself. I didn't personally know any other athletes with diabetes. I knew they were out there - I'd read about Gary Hall Jr. and Steve Redgrave, but they seemed so far out of reach. As time went on, those other active diabetics became a little easier to find. I'd run across a TuDiabetes discussion here, or a blog post there. Eventually, I even had the chance to talk to some of the actual people that were mentioned as examples in those books my doctor had recommended.
For me, the real "a-ha" moment was when I discovered Insulindependence. Finally, an organization that exists to bring together and support active diabetics, rather than treating fitness goals as an afterthought! Through several friends that were involved with the organization, I learned about the various Insulindependence clubs (Glucomotive, Triabetes, Testing Limits, and A1Sea) as well as their monthly local chapter events, known as Dawn Phenoms. I started to get envious of other cities that had existing chapters, and thought how awesome it would be to have the opportunity to show up at a Dawn Phenom, meet other diabetics, and share stories of how they deal with the challenges of diabetes and exercise.
One slight complication (or "People of the Internet, I need your help!")...unfortunately, the Charlotte, NC area that I call home has no existing Insulindependence chapter. While it's an inconvenient truth, there is a silver lining. I've always had trouble finding my niche in the diabetes advocacy world. I tried my own blog for a while, but it just didn't feel natural. I think the JDRF and ADA do some fine work, I've just never found my place in those organizations. With Insulindependence though, I feel like this is finally a place where I fit in and can make a difference.
So long story short, I've volunteered to get the Charlotte chapter up and running (fitness pun!), but I'm starting from scratch. I know a few local diabetics; I have the books and support of the organization, but I need the network of other people that have the same goals. I know that finding SixUntilMe was a breakthrough moment for me, and it opened my eyes to the amazing interconnected world of the DOC. The reason that I've asked Kerri for the opportunity to write this guest post is that hopefully there are some fellow readers out there that are either in the Charlotte area themselves, or that you might know someone that would like to join our young chapter. I can't promise that charter membership in the chapter will get you any insulin discounts, but I can promise good conversation and a good time sharing ideas with at least one other active diabetic in the area.
If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact me at CLT.Insulindependence@gmail.com so that I can share the details of our local events, which will be starting in September! And even if you've never heard of Charlotte, I hope you'll consider becoming a member of Insulindependence. It's free, easy, and you'll be in the company of many other awesome people. And me.
Thanks to you for reading and to Kerri for the opportunity to use her soapbox!