Tag Archives: Diabetes mellitus type 1

The Sweet Life

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Sean Busby_Norway

Sean Busby riding in Norway

I am a Type 1 diabetic. That’s a T1D for the uninitiated. That means that whenever friends read about the latest diabetes treatment, they always send me a link. And sometimes I think they must wonder what my problem is. Diabetes is preventable, they probably think to myself. What’s wrong with her?

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(See, the problem is they think I have Type 2 diabetes. And while both disease contain the word “diabetes”, they are really worlds apart.)

T1D is not preventable. Nor is it due to drinking too much soda or eating too much McDonalds. Because if it was, I’d be cured. I don’t drink super sized colas and I don’t eat fast food. Sometimes my husband rolls his eyes at me, thinking that all I eat is “twigs and nuts,” and I assure him that’s not the case.

So when I get to talk to someone just like me–a T1D who also loves to climb mountains and slide down them–I’m thrilled. This week on The Edge Radio I’m interviewing Sean Busby, a professional snowboarder and a fellow Type 1 diabetic.

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Sean Busby in Antarctica

Sean was diagnosed in 2004, while training for the Olympics. Considering leaving snowboarding altogether, Sean was inspired by stories he found through JDRF’s Children’s Congress. It was these young kids that inspired him to keep living his dreams despite living with T1D.

He founded Riding On Insulin—which is now a nonprofit organization—to honor all the kids who inspired him to keep living.

Sean also continues his big mountain backcountry snowboarding expeditions to the world’s most remote mountain ranges and chronicles his adventures with Mollie on their website, Two Sticks and a Board.

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His expeditions include snowboarding in Antarctica (twice!), Patagonia, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Alaska, New Zealand, Tasmania, Norway, and more. Sean will have backcountry snowboarded all 7 continents this coming February when he embarks on an expedition to the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco in Africa.  He is continuing to plan expeditions to the remote corners as well as offering guided trips to some of his favorite locations. Don’t miss the show this Wednesday at 8am Pacific.

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November is National Diabetes Month

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Even though I don’t always mention it, I never forget that I’m Type 1 Diabetic. I have a pump attached to me at all times, administering insulin. Yet, I don’t identify myself as a diabetic. I don’t subscribe to diabetes magazines or go to diabetes meet-ups. I don’t know very many other diabetics and don’t swap tips or recipes or horror stories. Maybe I should. It might do me some good. But my doctor tells me I’m still his rockstar patient. My numbers (aka A1C) are in the “normal” (read non-diabetic) range. My diet is healthy; I exercise every day; this disease doesn’t define me.

It’s just a constant annoyance, like bad breath or Mitt Romney commercials.

Diabetes is a prescribed eating disorder: I obsess about carbohydrates and calories. When I overeat or my blood sugars are inexplicably high, I do push-ups and sit-ups or run around the neighborhood. I’m that crazy lady with the pedometer and that million-yard stare. Since exercise brings blood glucose levels back to normal even more effectively than extra shots of insulin, I choose activity as my antidote.

26 million Americans have diabetes, and another 79 million have pre-diabetes. Recent estimates suggest that by 2050, 1 out of 3 adults will have diabetes. Many of these have Type 2 Diabetes, the mostly preventable and diet-related kind. Type 1 is an auto-immune disease, and research now suggests it could be the body’s continued response to a virus. Both diseases affect your body’s ability to use insulin, and because of this connection the two diseases are lumped together.

Either way, diabetes is a vicious little fiend. She gets into the tiniest vessels in your body and wreaks havoc. Constant control is the key to staving off heart disease, stroke, amputation, blindness, kidney failure and a myriad of other diabetes-related “complications”. I like to blame my control-freak nature on my disease. After all, I’m forced to count calories and carbs, and control food intake and exercise output.

So I plan to cheer on the folks at the American Diabetes Association with their month. The motto is Stop Diabetes. What’s not to like about that?