Type 1 life adventures
Five weeks ago I was hiking and canoeing in the Northern Territory, sweaty as a bastard and breathing in some of the most invigorating fresh air in Australia. Now back in the midst of a Melbourne winter, I’m wearing two pairs of socks and am forced to ingest the automatic air freshener squirt that greets me each time I arrive to do the business in these office toilets where I am begrudgingly temping.
I make an effort to drink a lot of water, which means I visit the loo often. At my 21st party friends acknowledged my prodigious use and well-honed awareness of toilet locations with their public gift of a potty. I used to wee a truckload more, before being diagnosed Type 1 diabetic at the age of 37. The excessive urination thing was just one of the symptoms that did a 180 soon after I started jabbing insulin.
It’s the balancing act of a T1 diabetic that I’ve constantly been reading and thinking about, and through trial and error, observing in my own body across the past two and a bit years since I finally got diagnosed. Both low and high blood sugar levels can be pass out-coma dangerous. So I’ve had to learn how to juggle the balls of activity, temperature, hormones, stress, illness, alcohol, time elapsed since taking insulin, the carb content of what I’m shoving in my gob…
My trip to Katherine presented the challenge of handling these variables in the remote wilderness. This was a long overdue holiday and a treat after a redundancy earlier in the year. An active outdoor adventure was a deliberate choice to purge myself of sluggish office bureaucracy contamination and to test some diabetic management boundaries. Being away from the security blanket of civilisation it was a bit of an experiment and something to risk manage – a bit like my extreme sport, as one of my friends put it.
Future snippets will explain how the trip was so mind blowing amazing and profound. But in a nutshell, it marked my turning point from the diagnosis-understanding-coping phase. I realised I did not have to be held back by this chronic illness. And I decided that I did not want the fear of its daily or long-term risks to overwhelm me or fill me with trepidation. I want to be bold and intrepid and for this type of spirited attitude to guide a better approach to living my life.
The short story is that I’m greeting you at the crossroads. This year I’m departing the traditional workforce, health ‘struggles’, my thirties, habitual behaviours etc. The road ahead is a bit foggy but I’m putting faith in my internal GPS and a general sense of exploration. In addition to the metaphorical journey I am heeding the call of nature with my intent to hike every Australian state and territory by the end of 2014 (sounds like an election promise).
This blog is an attempt to cathartically chart the back story, convey my personal experiences being T1 and to chronicle some bits that come next. Mostly it’s about keeping me accountable to myself so that I do what I say, rather than just talk about doing stuff (classic habitual behaviour #1). I’ve become interested in well-being but my humanities brain squeals at the thought of a nutrition or dietetics degree. My response is to write. Publicly. And yes, this is seemingly in direct contravention of my formerly expressed concern with people curating their lives online. Geez, at some point I will probably even have to discuss what I eat for breakfast…