Why A Person with Diabetes Bikes to Beat Cancer

BBC TrainingAs I mentioned yesterday, I rode in the Kentucky Tour de Cure in June. Great ride. Great day! Lately I’ve been training for a couple other rides, especially a century in the Bike to Beat Cancer in September.

I’m a person who has lived with Type 1 Diabetes for more than 43 years. It makes sense to ride in an event to raise money for diabetes research. But why ride 100 miles in  an event to raise funds for cancer? Part of the answer to that question is pretty obvious, but another part—the most important part, I believe—is not so obvious.

Obviously, cancer is a huge issue for many people. I’m guessing you know someone who has or has had cancer. I do, and I have. My mom died 14 years ago from leukemia, a cancer of the blood. My wife and I have had good friends, from our church and from the college we both graduated from, who have lost their battle with the disease or who are in the throes of the battle right now. I hate what cancer does to people who are misfortunate to have it and deal with it. I’m riding to raise some money for cancer research, awareness, and advocacy. I’m riding for individuals and the families of people affected by the disease: Betty, Ed, Carolyn, Yvette, Carole and Steve, Renae, and many others.

As important as those reasons are, however, there’s something else. Over the years, I’ve found that people who live with difficult circumstances deal with them in one of two ways. Some people look inward with anxiety. They usually also look forward with fear. But others look upward with an unexplainable hope, and they look outward with compassion.

Here are two videos of people I’ll be thinking about as I ride 100 miles this September. The first video is of Carole who dealt bravely with cancer; the second is her husband after she died:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/92523691″>Carole Swoboda Testimony</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/neccwired”>Northeast Christian Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p> <p>4.20.14</p>

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/124333331″>Steve Swoboda Testimony – Easter 2015</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/neccwired”>Northeast Christian Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p> <p>4.5.15</p>

If the videos do not appear in your browser, please click below:

The lesson I’ve learned over the years is to keep my focus upward and outward—in that order. I find it so much easier to live well with my diabetes when I keep my eyes focused outward, on others. And I’ve also discovered that the best way to stay focused outward is to keep my focus upward every day. It makes all the difference in the world.

I’d love to hear your story. How does your focus affect how you live with the life circumstances that have been dealt to you?

It’s Not About the Ride

Tdc RRsLet’s catch up. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last blogged here. Over the spring and summer, I’ve been training on my bike for different events, and just riding with friends for the fun of it. In June I rode with a bunch of fellow PWD (People with Diabetes) in the Kentucky Tour de Cure. I’m the Kentucky Red Rider Chairperson, so of course I’m passionate about this ride. Some of my regular riding buddies took off pretty early, but I could tell that a fellow T1Der (person with Type 1 Diabetes) was struggling a bit on the very hilly 63-mile route, so I stayed with him and pulled as much as I could, and the two of us enjoyed the ride and some good conversation together.

Sometimes it’s not about the ride. For me . . .

  • Relationships are more important than rides.
  • People are more important than pace.
  • Personal relationships are more important than personal records.
  • Warm fellowship is more important than watts.

OK, maybe I’m stretching the point a bit too much, but you get the idea.

Sometimes we get overly obsessed with the event, whatever it is, and miss out on the most vital things in life. Average speed sure looks good on my Strava and Facebook pages, but who cares after a day or so of that?

Tomorrow I’m going to take this idea a bit further. Click here to read it..

In the mean time, what do you think? Whether you ride bikes or anything else, what’s the point, in your view?

Why I Ride … and Walk and Work for a Diabetes Cure

imageWarm sweat drips onto my phone as I write this post. I’m on my bike trainer on a cold, grey, rainy day spinning out 17 or so miles to try to stay in riding shape. Boston’s Greatest Hits blasts from my iPad. Without notice my pace quickens to the song “Smokin’.”

The music and the creative activity take my mind off the fact that this is an otherwise dull exercise. But even they don’t drive me to keep cranking.

As I ride past 12 miles with Seger now singing “Fire Down Below,” I think through my list of things that drive me to ride. I think first about my four teen and young-adult kids. I’m closing in on 45 years with type-1 diabetes,  and I am compelled to keep the pedals turning so I can someday walk my girls down the aisle and dance at all their weddings. I want to ride bikes with my grandkids. I simply want to keep going as long as I can.

But that’s not all. I’m spinning in my basement on February 1 so I can see the sweat drops hit my phone on my handlebars this spring and summer as I ride the roads for a cure for diabetes.

Look, I’m used to living with diabetes. I’ve dealt with this for 80 percent of my life. Truthfully, I’m OK with not being a recipient of a cure. Sure, that would be a big blessing. If given the opportunity to extend my eyesight, kidney function, ability to use my legs, and live another 10-20 years, I’d take it. But I’m in this fight mainly for the 11 year old who will be diagnosed this year. I want to raise money to provide the resources and remove all the barriers to finding a cure for that kid. I see his face now as I spin past 15 miles on the trainer, my heart rate accelerating as I stand up for a minute of faux hill climbing.

I’m not alone. I’m partnering with thousands of others like me with the same passion. We’ll be wearing red jerseys as we team up to ride for a cure for this disease. I’d love to see many more people join us as we ride together, or support us with donations, in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure.

Please join in!

Go to my personal Tour de Cure page to join us or donate, or just to get more information on this great cause.

Good Friends Help PWD Live Healthier Lives

People with diabetes need good friends. By good friends, I mean people who are patient, understanding, sympathetic, and, most importantly, have a sense of humor.

By the way, I’m not saying we deserve people to treat us well just because we have diabetes. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me because of my condition. (The truth is, some people with diabetes are narcissists; somehow they’ve gotten the impression that they and their disease should be the focus of everyone’s attention.)

Back from the rabbit trail … I believe friends help us live healthier lives. For me, without my friends, I’d be in real trouble.

KC-Mike 001

KC Mack/Mike Mack, Circa 1981. Suburban Cowboys

When I think of a good friend, I think of KC. Actually, we’re cousins, but we’ve also been great friends most of our lives. KC has laughed with me and more often at me many times over the years. Interestingly, many of our funniest memories involved food.

Curly Fries
We spent most of our time as teenagers playing basketball in a church parking lot. KC could always tell when my blood sugar was dropping, probably by the fact that my shots weren’t dropping. But sometimes, according to him, I’d fake it when he was putting a whoopin’ on me (which was normal) or when I just wanted to take a break and go to Arby’s.

I loved going to Arby’s. Roast beef sandwich . . . Curly fries . . . Apple turnover . . . Angela Moore.  I liked the food, but I really liked Angela, and she just happened to work at Arby’s. We may have been in the middle of a basketball game, but I was thinking Angela. She liked me, too. I know this because she would secretly give me extra curly fries. One time she filled the whole bag with those golden twists of deliciousness. I was so glad Angela cared enough to provide me with those extra carbohydrates my body was craving.

Hot Dog, No Mustard
KC and I also attended lots of basketball games together. At one game, I started having a bad insulin reaction, so KC, as any good friend would, went to the concession stand and waited in line to buy me a coke and a hot dog. Now, we sometimes do weird things when our blood sugar is dropping. When KC brought the food back, I noticed he had put mustard on the dog, so I obstinately refused to eat it. Finally I meticulously scraped off every bit of the mustard as the arena spun around and around and KC sat next to me, arms folded, shaking his head.

Pop Tarts
Camping trips meant  freedom, friends, Frisbees, fishing, fires, and junk food. One time, in the middle of the night, I had another bad reaction. I woke up in a cold sweat, mumbling indistinguishably. KC and my other friends in the tent couldn’t understand me, but then, clear as a bell in a high squeaky voice, I yelled, “Pop Tart!” My friends were literally on the ground laughing (in their sleeping bags) for several minutes before I got my crazy good pastry.

We all need good friends during the highs and lows of our lives. I’m thankful for KC, even though he should know me well enough to realize I don’t like mustard on my hot dog.

Who is a close friend who has been there for you in your highs and lows? Go ahead … share the story.

D-vangelism: 7 Secrets to Being an Effective Diabetes Ambassador without Being Weird

from the website, www.americanmedical-id.com

Full disclosure: This is not my tattoo. But it does look like a cool idea, and I’ve thought about it. From the website, http://www.americanmedical-id.com

I admit it: I’m a D-vangelist. Everywhere I go, I look for opportunities to tell people about my savior. Insulin saved my life 42 years ago, and am not ashamed to stand up and testify.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a water park, wearing my pod on my arm. The guy behind us in line asked me what it was, so I used his question as an opportunity to educate and advocate. About 10 people had congregated around us, and they all heard the good news of modern diabetes technology.

Over the years I’ve learned a few secrets for talking effectively about my diabetes without being weird about it:

  1. Wherever you are, be there. Like it or not, you and I take our diabetes wherever we go. You can either accept or reject the role that goes along with that to be an ambassador for diabetes. My opinion: If you decide you don’t wish to educate others about diabetes, you give up your right to complain about people who say stupid stuff about it.
  2. Let it shine. Don’t hide your diabetes under a bushel … no! (Sorry, I was roped into teaching Vacation Bible School a number of years ago.) Look, I am a PWD (Person With Diabetes). I have been for nearly 80% of my life. So I own that. I’ve never been one to hide my pump, pod, or now my CGM (which I started yesterday). I don’t purposely show them off, of course, but I don’t see a reason to conceal them either.
  3. Be prepared. When we go out, PWDs are careful to take everything we need—tester, glucose tablets, insulin, and other supplies—with us. I’d never leave the house without being prepared for highs or lows. I think we should also be prepared to tell people a little about the highs and lows of living with diabetes when asked. Who knows more about it than those of us who live with it every day? You don’t have to know everything about diabetes; just share your story … briefly!
  4. Be natural. Try not to force the conversation. Simply answer people’s questions … and then stop talking. You don’t need a pitch or a speech. And don’t use this as an opportunity to make yourself the center of attention. If people keep asking questions, answer them, and then move on. If they stop asking, view that as a sign.
  5. Control the Diabeteze. We PWDs—whether we’re T1Ds or T2Ds, whether or not we wear a CGM, regardless of our latest BS (or BG) (mg/dL or mmol/l) or A1C, regardless of whether we’ve ever gone into DKA and had to upload our PDM to our endo or CDE—tend to use all kinds of diabetes nomenclature that PWODs (People Without Diabetes) cannot understand. Communicate to be understood. Drop the d-jargon.
  6. Be real. A conversation about your diabetes won’t be weird if you just be yourself—unless, that is, you are weird. It’s OK to talk about how you deal with your diabetes, but, of course, keep it generally positive. Sure, it’s fine to say it can sometimes be a pain in the butt, but don’t go on and on about how horrible your life is. Nobody wants to hear it. Who likes a Diadebbie Downer?
  7. Love. That may sound weird, but what I mean is that as you talk to people, put them first. When you start with a humble attitude, it frees you to simply provide answers for people and help them to understand diabetes more.