Are you a “diabetic” or do you have diabetes? Is there really a difference?

This is an issue that has been on my mind pretty consistently since the inception of the idea for Project 365. I feel like the terminology is not seen as being too important by many people. To be fair, I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 13 years and I never really thought about it till recently…

I admit that when I am talking on a more superficial level to someone about my project, I describe myself as a t1diabetic athlete because it’s more concise, but on a deeper level I do not THINK of myself as a diabetic. The word “diabetic” connotes identifying emotionally and personally with this disease. I couldnt stop diabetes from invading my body at 16 but the more important factor–the one we HAVE A CHOICE ABOUT is whether it invades our mind, each and every day we live with it.

I am not in denial about the fact that I have diabetes. I know I have to watch my diet, restrict my carb intake, check my sugar, take 4-6 injections a day…the whole 9 yards. I am torn about how to share that part of my life with people since it is not the focus of what I do. Sounds weird perhaps, but I got into climbing and wilderness sports because I wanted a reason to live. Controlling your sugar and diet and medication just for the sake of waking up the next day and doing it all over again just wasn’t enough to make me care. Climbing has been enough to make me care and that concept of pursuing healthy, active passions rather than fixating on a disease is the basis for Project 365.

All physical challenges are first battled in the mind. Those of us with T1D know that the mental aspects of this condition are the most difficult to explain. The good news is that the mental arena is where we can win! We don’t need researchers to find a cure and sell it back to us before we keep T1D from conquering our mind. We just need something that makes the fight worthwhile. I’d like a cure. So would millions of other people, I’m sure. But do we need a cure in place to keep our mind from being dominated by our condition?

A cure would basically amount to winning the war. Eventually, it will happen although the availability of that cure once it is discovered may wind up presenting a whole other ball of wax. But in the meantime, we are left with trench warfare, the morose and less than glamorous battlefield of the mind. It is hand to hand combat, no hiding behind the heavy artillery of science and its promising hypotheses. Just the choice each day to be the hammer or the nail.

So while 80-90% of my posting is about climbing, not my latest blood sugar reading or the fact that I woke up low after the exact same insulin dosage and meals for the last week…I want it to be understood that I am not ashamed of my diabetes. I don’t want to hide it. Diabetes just becomes more transparent as I have fixed my focus on what I love. I still take shots, prick my fingers and all that good stuff-but my mind and my identity belongs to what I love, not to a disease I happen to have.

Fight this condition with your mind first. Then you will see your body respond accordingly. It is not about removing challenges but removing the hindrance that they present.

Rant over, temporarily.