Am I Alone?
The day that you get diagnosed is tough not just for yourself but also for your family. Then you realise that you might be the only Type 1 diabetic in your school or even city. You might ask, “Why me?”
Then you have to deal with the looks you get when your pump or CGM might be showing or if you are found in a shop injecting some insulin. Not being able to feel normal is a constant struggle for people living with Type 1 diabetes.
Social media can help. It has enabled people like me to find people all around the world who I can talk to and interact with online, but there is no substitute for meeting people face to face.
The day before yesterday, I was sitting in the hotel, conflicted if I should ride or go to this diabetes camp. As this journey is a journey of firsts, I decided (after a few phone calls with my Snail Mail pen pal) to go to camp.
In my 19 months of living with Type 1 diabetes, this was the first time I was in a room filled with so many Type 1 diabetics.
“Your words to those kids could last a lifetime,” my pen pal told me.
We went in as a team of 10 and when we entered it was their dinnertime and the kids were busy carb-counting and eating whilst we got a chance to choose a table and interact with them in a smaller group.
My first question: “What is the best part about coming to camp?” All the answers were the same: “To meet other people living with the same condition, share our numbers, pump swag, highs and lows together.” They were intrigued about what we are doing and more importantly why were we doing this bike ride across the US.
They were 3 days in the 5-day camp and it seemed like they had known each other forever, which is exactly how I feel about my dia-besties and living everyday with Team Bike Beyond.
The room was filled with nearly 70 kids and camp councillors. My teammate, Amanda, did an incredible job of leading the presentation and controlling the room.
What amazed me the most was not how intently they listened, but also how they laughed together and asked some simple yet amazing questions. The most memorable question we got was, “If there was a cure tomorrow would we take it?” I was so proud how my whole team answered that question. For most there, they didn’t know life without Type 1. The lessons it has taught us all and the character building platform it has provided is something none of us were willing to trade though.
We also did an activity on how they live beyond. We asked them what are some good things about having Type 1 and some bad things. It was amazing how a 15-year-old was giving answers that I could relate to at 28. I guess irrespective of your age, the feelings and emotions about Type 1 diabetes are same.
Photos and Q&A were fun and the kids wanted to know about how we treat our lows, what sports we have played before, why we use the devices we do and how are we handling ourselves on our adventure across the US.
For somebody like myself who had never been to camp, getting to spend a few hours with those kids will remain with me for a lifetime and I hope that they might have picked up on our message that “Type 1 diabetes should not stop you from achieving anything you want in life”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
I aim to do just that.
Learn more about Bike Beyond.