I want to preface this post by saying I am not under any illusion that I am anywhere close to (or will ever be) a professional athlete. I’m not trying to draw comparisons between me, a recreational runner, and this guy, a member of the US Olympic Team… but we DO have a few things in common:
- we both have Type 1 diabetes
- we are around the same age
- we both have to be incredibly concerned about having health coverage
- we are both training for endurance events (although… the interview I linked above indicates that Kris works out between 20 and 32 hours a week. I… don’t)
- we both use the Omnipod insulin pump
Let me back up and let you know why I was so excited to read about Kris Freeman today… it is because yesterday, I spent some time feeling both emotionally and physically crappy about diabetes. I was able to leave work early and was looking forward to an afternoon treadmill run at the gym when things are nice and quiet and empty. I made it precisely 1.15 miles on the treadmill before my blood sugar crashed and burned in extraordinary fashion.
Sometimes, a drop in blood sugar is gradual and not so bad. Countless times I’ve just popped a few glucose tablets while I’m in the middle of doing something and am able to continue on my merry way. Yesterday was the total opposite, where I wasn’t sure I could even make it back to the locker room without taking a break to sit down, or put on my pants unassisted. By the time I checked my sugar (which was about 10 minutes after forcing down 3 glucose tablets), it was only 51. It went up, but not before heading back down, then up… not the worst roller coaster I’ve ever had, but the kind that leaves me feeling ill and going to bed at 8pm.
For me this was one wasted afternoon that I happened to be looking forward to, followed by an evening of feeling unwell. As my hobby, for fun, I’ve chosen to train for a race. And it can be stressful when I have to miss a planned workout. My mind spirals into what they will mean for me in the long-term and if these two weeks in a row of diabetes-thwarted runs are going to have deleterious effects (to which I say, in the clear light of day and normal blood sugar… nope, probably not). It sucks when things don’t go as planned, and diabetes sure has some pretty powerful ways of screwing up plans. But what if it was my job? What if I had to perform well or risk losing everything? What if I got low blood sugar while competing in an Olympic event?
Honestly, it made me feel kind of silly about my emotional response to yesterday when I read those stories about Kris Freeman today. The timing was perfect to give me some much-needed perspective… not to mention two really powerful quotes:
I don’t identify myself as a diabetic, I identify myself as a cross-country skier. (ESPN article)
You know how it feels when blood sugars do that, and I hope what I went through encourages people to remember that staying focused on your goals is what matters. Yes, you may crash, but it doesn’t have to stop you. (DiabetesMine interview)
I’ve neither been skiing nor ever watched cross-country skiing in my life (and… to be totally honest am not historically much of a Winter Olympics fan), but you can bet I will be following this guy! If he can bounce back from low blood sugar in the middle of a 15k cross-country ski event, having to lay in the snow eating fuel gel, I’m pretty sure I can get over my missed 45-minute workout.