Tim was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 31, without any knowledge of what it meant. He knew no one with T1D, and the diagnosis came out of the blue. As a dedicated triathlete, he worried about what the diagnosis might mean for his sporting aspirations.
All the tell-tale signs of type 1 diabetes were there. I had lost a lot of weight, I had blurry vision, and I was always excessively thirsty. I was cramping a lot as well. Given that I was then in my first season as a triathlete though, it was easy to attribute all these symptoms to simply being a result of the intensive training I was doing. Still, the blurred vision was a concern and I took a short trip to the doctor to see what it was all about. One finger prick and a few blood tests later, my life was about to change.
There was a period of anger and denial. I didn’t want type 1 diabetes to ‘get in the way’ of things, especially my new fitness hobby which I was enjoying so much. I sulked for few days. I was so annoyed that I even scoffed down a tub of ice-cream!
But I had a decision to make, and I was determined to not let a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes change me from my new found passion. So I learned as much as I could about the disease, especially how it relates to athletes. Everything from post workout spikes in blood sugar, the effects of adrenaline in racing, to how different training and racing are with blood sugar management. I reached out to a wider audience, scouring the internet for articles and any other source of information I could get about type 1 diabetes.
I have since learned how to manage my type 1 diabetes and still participate in triathlons and other sporting events such as road cycling. And while I still have difficulty from time to time, particularly with longer races, paying attention to trends and testing regularly gives me good feedback on what works and what doesn’t. It can be frustrating – I have had many sporting failures related to type 1 diabetes, but it’s important to learn and adapt for next time.
That goes for things outside of sporting events too. I refuse to let type 1 diabetes stop me from doing things I love or things I want to try. To me, type 1 diabetes is a marathon, not a sprint. There are always bumps in the road, but it’s a great feeling when things go ‘just right’.