I was 12 going on 13. I wanted to play (American) football in high school as a freshman. I was always a big boy growing up, and I always enjoyed watching football on TV, so I thought I should give it a try. One of the more procedural things I needed to take care of in order to join the team was to get a physical exam. Sure, I was out of shape, but there wasn't anything wrong with me, right? Wrong. I was devastated to learn that I had Type II Diabetes. My life would be forever different. I had to poke myself with needles in my fingers to put some blood in the meter to calculate my blood sugar. I had to give myself shots of insulin twice a day. I would have to watch what I ate. I'd have to go to the doctor far more often than I wanted. It was a bummer, especially for a teenager (or almost teen).
After a few years, the diabetes didn't seem so bad. I could managed the finger poking and stuff. The shots only took a few minutes. Then, I finished college, and moved to Boulder, Colorado. I had a decent job writing code and learning about writing code. It was good. When I came home, my life was spent in front of the TV. It was during this time which I realized that watching other people's lives flash by on TV is a waste of time, and instead I should be living my own life, doing fun, crazy and creative things. I stopped watching TV cold turkey, and started to ride my bike to work. Sure, this wasn't a TV adventure, but it was time better spent than just sitting on my ass all the time.
I lived far enough away from the office so that I could ride my bike to work. My first apartment was only a mile from the office, and I was slow and out of shape. It took quite a bit of time to ride to work and back. Eventually, I moved to a new apartment 8 miles away from the office. It took 1 whole hour to get to the office. Granted, I went through back roads and side trails, but still, an hour to ride my bike 8 miles to work? Over the course of the next month, I rode to work every day. And I rode home every day. I brought my commute time down from 1 hour each way to 30 minutes each way. After 1 month, I lost 20 pounds. I changed nothing but the mere fact that I was riding my bike all the time. I continued to ride my bike for the next 8 years. I rode to work, to school, in event after event.
In my home town of Tucson, Arizona, there is an annual event called El Tour de Tucson. I decided to sign up for the 109 mile long event back in 2002. I had been riding my bike consistently for only about 4 months. I managed to finish with a time just under 9 hours. I signed up the next year and finished in under 8 hours. The following year I was under 6 hours. And the year after that, my peak, I completed the 109 mile course in under 5 hours. I rode at an average speed of 23 mph. I marvel at what a slow, fat overweight person like myself was able to accomplish back in the day.
At this point, my diabetes was all but gone. My continuous exercise routine of riding to work at least 3 days a week, and 2 longer rides on the weekend was more than enough to stimulate the insulin absorption in my body. I had a doctor visit and explained my fitness habits. He looked at my blood work, and told me the A1C number was back in the normal range, something that doesn't happen, even with recovering diabetics. I had kicked diabetes in the ass, and was better off for it.
And then we come to today. Today's visit to the doctor was good in that it reminded me that I always will be a diabetic. My blood sugar level was 218. Normal levels are 80-180 for diabetics. I don't know what my blood work will say, but I can't imagine it'll be good. I'm now back on medication for diabetes, to control the blood sugar levels. My fitness is no where near what it was at my peak fitness level.
I'm frustrated at myself for letting myself lapse this far. I've probably focused too much on my work, and not enough on my health. I've got to change my diet up a bit, and it's going to suck for a little while. But my health is important, it always was, it just took a small wake up call to realize it. I will return, perhaps not to my peak, but hopefully close enough so that I can once again live without medications, shots, or worse, an insulin pump.
Don't forget your health, without it, you are just a bag of mostly water.