Before you ask, no I am not staying at Grumpy’s house! My name is Paul Coker and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes back in 1977, when I was five years old. I grew up with everybody telling me about the things that I cannot do because I have diabetes. This was a huge mistake my diabetes has meant that every day I beat the odds and set new standards, you might prefer to call this stubborn, I call it determination.
You may know me already for the voluntary work that I do with JDRF and INPUT Diabetes, I have even had the odd spot in the newspaper and on regional TV talking about diabetes. I love to challenge my diabetes in a variety of insane ways and have walked the Welsh 3 Peaks (this means reaching the summits of the highest mountains in North, Mid and South Wales inside of 16 hours), last year I ran a half marathon and I have walked on burning coals (twice in the last month) all to raise awareness of diabetes and funds for research into type 1.
One cold and damp weekend in the middle of March 2014, twenty-two strangers with a common goal met in North Wales and we began our training for a fantastic expedition. In June we will be forming an international team, 19 of us have T1D, and together we will attempt to break a record for getting the most people with T1D to the summit of Kilimanjaro in a single expedition. The mountain stands almost 6 Kilometres (or 19,340 feet) above sea level and in addition to all of the normal challenges this adventure brings it seems that type 1 diabetes and altitude are not necessarily the best of friends. As we gain altitude the atmospheric pressure will drop and so will the temperature. This means that our blood glucose meters may not work, for those of us using insulin pumps they are only guaranteed to work up to 10,000 feet above sea level. At the summit we will be in arctic like conditions with predicted temperatures of -25°C which means that we have to protect our insulin from freezing at all times. We will be facing all of these challenges in addition to the low oxygen levels that will make breathing difficult and the other effects of altitude that include making us massively insulin resistant. Click here to read our trip itinary.
You are probably asking yourself why would anybody volunteer to do this? I like to think that I am demonstrating how diabetes does not beat me and how by asking the right questions I can achieve my goals in spite of, or even because of, my diabetes. However, my wife thinks that I am having a mid life crisis – I will leave you to judge me. Each of us on this trek has their own personal reasons for participating but collectively we are doing this trip to demonstrate that diabetes does not prevent you from achieving amazing things, we are also raising awareness of T1D through the publicity we are generating (thanks Grumpy) and we are raising funds for JDRF so that they can continue with the vital research that they do which improves the lives of all of us living with type 1 diabetes.
I would be delighted if you would visit my just giving page to read more about my story. Any donation that you feel able to make, regardless of how large or small, will be absolutely awesome and will help JDRF to progress the research into a cure. You can rest assured that the costs of this trip are being met by each of us personally so all donations go directly to JDRF rather than subsidizing an exotic holiday!
Perhaps if I buy Grumpy a few beers in the pub next time we meet he will allow me to keep you all updated on my training, progress and of course the trials and tribulations of the trek itself. Thank you!
All I can hear as I write this blog is the song from the children’s TV show (of a very long time ago when I was young, and still Grumpy) Chigley “Time flies by when you’re a driver of a train”. Google it kids, its what proper TV was all about when we had 3 channels and programs didn’t start until lunchtime. Yes, we did have insulin, although I wasn’t diagnosed then.
Why is this tune repeating in my head? Well. I was intending to be writing this as my first blog of the year for back in January. However I stared a new Job and time has flow by. Not sure if is like being a driver of a train (no, that’s not what my new job is) as I have never driven a train. Well. There was that one incident, but we’d best not mention that…..
So here I am already into the 2nd half of the year. This year sees my 20th year of having Type1 Diabetes, with my Diaverasry on 26th August. That time has flown by to. It really doesn’t bother me that I’ve had it for 20 years. After all I will be cured in 10 years’ time. Right? However the speed at which those 20 years have passed does bother me. One of the things that sticks in my mind from my stay at Hotel NHS back in August 1994 is being told that Complications can start after 20 or 30 years of having Type1. For the first time in my life I am an early achiever! Yay for Grumps!! I developed some damage to my left eye a few years ago. Nothing that needs treatment and it’s not progressing. Also I have little feeling in my feet (I will save the drawing pin story for another time). Again, none of this really worries me, it’s a fact of life and nothing I can change, but it does focus me on the management of my diabetes because the time will continue to fly and I need to keep things in check as much as possible.
So in an attempt to motivate myself to keep things in check, I set myself a goal of having my first ever sub 7% HbA1c by the end of the year (yes, it is measured in %, I refuse to change (please see Grumpy frown to back this up)). For the second time in my life I again aver achieve! The first A1c of 2014 comes in at 6.9%. Good news but I fear I’ve peaked to early (unless I don’t have any more tests this year……. Would I?….). The challenge now is to keep it there or if I can drop it a bit more. Never easy. Diabetes of any Type has never read the “rule book” and we live busy and complicated lives. Something I will always remind my Health Care Team (forcefully if I have to). I manage my diabetes the way I want to so that I can live my life the way I want. It’s about my quality of life, not their statistics.
Anyway. Enough of my Grumpy Grumbles. Here’s to the next 20 years of beating my Type1!
I wonder if I ever will drive a train again?…..
For Diabetes Pictures…..
Some I made…..
Who Says I’m Insulin Resistant?
What Should your Meter Really Say?
Meter of Mass Destruction
Some of the Amazing People I’ve met…….
Live Long and Bolus
Not sure I have any Diabetes Life Hacks.
Well, none that I’ve not already stolen off other PWD.
So here are a few of Grumpy’s tips on how to survive in the wild when you have T1D….
If your HCP is giving you shit about your HbA1c, Tell them that you will reduce your A1c when they reduce their bloody waiting room times.
If you want to keep the seat next to you on public transport empty, simply place a used insulin vile on the seat and your journey will be free of unwanted companions.
When asked “are you allowed to eat that?”, make sure that the answer is made clear by writing the word “YES” on your fist, then punch them in the eye.
Always carry a small piece of emery cloth in case your lancet gets rusty. After all, you don’t want to get an infection.
Pump users. When asked “If I press that button, will you die?”. Gently reply, “NO! YOU WILL!!!”
Pump users of one specific Animas model. When in a shop, remember to ask quietly, “Do you have any batteries? I am desperate for a new one for my Vibe”. Unless you want to make new friends there of course.
And the final two:
Never Let Diabetes Beat You
Live Long and Bolus
What gets me through the “Diabetes” day?
A killer frown and F%*K you attitude!
The determination to never be beaten, by anything.
Roll with the punches and keep moving forward.
Never worry about the things I can’t influence or fix It’s just wasted effort.
Never look back, it’s in the past, I can’t change it.
Never look back, I might not see what’s heading towards me.
Learn from my mistakes. Better still, learn from other peoples.
There is no such thing as a bad number!
I never get it wrong. I’m just learning what works best for me!
And above all…..
Live Long and Bolus.
Here goes for the Wild Card #dBlogWeek of my dream device.
Of course the first and most ideal Diabetes device that could ever be invented would be….
STI (Sexually Transmitted Insulin)
4 times a day? Yes please!
And I’m also available for the Oral Insulin trials!………
Ok, so failing this, I imagin a new canula with integrated CGM.
Hard wired via the pump tube to the pump that is the receiver.
No need for a transmitter so less cost.
Slim line due to no receiver.
And last but not least (apologies to OneTouch) the nw BG detecting contact lenses…..
OneTouch Verio Blink
Live Long and Bolus
The emotional side of Diabetes and what gets me down. The Darker Side of my Diabetes?…….
Not an easy one for me to blog about.
I have one basic level of emotion. Yep. Grumpy.
I really don’t do stress. I get pissed off with things, well, people mostly, but refuse to let anything get to me enough to get down or depressed.
This applies more with my Diabetes than anything else.
I’m a bad looser. A REALLY bad looser!
I will Never Let Diabetes Beat Me.
If I let it get me down, it would win. I will Never Let this happen.
I’ve used this quote many times and will continue to. It’s how I live my life and manage my Diabetes. With a frown, of course.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” (Rocky Balboa)
Basically, I use the darker side of my Diabetes to motivate myself to keep moving forward. I never look back. Just learn from past experience and use it to beat my Diabetes every single day
Live Long and Bolus.