To kick start my fundraising for my JDRF One Ride participation I wrote an email which I planned to distribute to all of my contacts. I was aiming to connect my personal diabetes story with the JDRF cause and positive outcomes to get as many people to support me as possible. As I wrote the email though I became quite emotional as I realised how challenging living with type 1 diabetes is and how significant and life threatening the complications can be. It actually brought me to tears when I read it out to my fiance. Below is an adapted version.
As you may be aware I am a type 1 diabetic, I was diagnosed when I was 11 years old and I have been living with the condition for over 22 years now. Type 1 diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce insulin which is what allows the body to process sugar to create energy. Without insulin, the body literally starves as it cannot process food and the sugars which remain in the blood stream then cause other complications. To manage type 1 diabetes, I must keep my blood sugar levels as close to the normal range as possible by dosing insulin, something that is very complicated and difficult to maintain.
You would have seen me testing my blood sugar levels (nearly 50,000 finger pricks) and giving myself insulin (over 30,000 injections) and from the outside I would appear to be a very healthy young man; at the moment I thankfully am. The longer I have type 1 diabetes though, the risk increases that the disease will ravage many of my organs and bodily systems leading to health complications including kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack and stroke. The potential complications though are secondary to the daily challenges of keeping my blood sugar levels within a safe range whilst being active and living a normal life, all while trying not to stress about the condition. Type 1 diabetes requires constant management 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I have had type 1 diabetes for nearly 8,000 days, and counting.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the only conditions where the patient determines their own doses of medication (insulin), and that this medication both keeps them alive and can also kill them. Insulin is required constantly or at minimum with every meal every day of a diabetics life.
Type 1 diabetes has not stopped me living an active life, nor achieving my goals. Through school and university, my working life, completing many endurance events including an Ironman, and most recently getting engaged and starting to plan for a family. Along the way I have overcome the daily challenges of having type 1 diabetes which have included hypoglycaemic events (which can be fatal), always planning ahead and carrying my diabetes supplies and food, and trying to fit the strict nature of diabetes around the spontaneous nature of life. Although I have managed my diabetes well there have been plenty of scary incidents; being resuscitated by paramedics due to severe hypoglycaemia, breaking my hand during another hypoglycaemic event and various times where things just didn’t go to plan and I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I can’t imagine my parents stress when I was a teenager and now what my fiancé feels when I head out on a solo adventure with all of that to worry about.
So I am fundraising for JDRF through the One Ride Event because I understand how challenging living with type 1 diabetes is and it scares me that even with good control there are high risks of potentially fatal complications. I have also received the benefits of recent technological developments which have made living with type 1 diabetes so much easier; I am on an insulin pump and I use a CGM to monitor my BGLs. I am cycling 1,000’s of kilometres to inspire all type 1 diabetics that this disease should not stop them from doing anything their heart desires and that achieving their wildest goals is within their grasp. My plans for my fundraising activities can be found here JDRF One Ride 2017
I am currently preparing for the Ballarat 70.3 Ironman on December 8th, my only triathlon for this coming summer and one which I really want to do well at. After that I will be focusing on cycling as many kilometres as I can to raise funds for JDRF, raising awareness about type 1 diabetes, inspiring other type 1 diabetics to join me, and also prepare for my ride from Melbourne to Adelaide in May 2017. There’s also an engagement party and a wedding in there which will be a lot of fun!
I have not previously done much fundraising and before starting to work with JDRF I didn’t really understand how important it is. JDRF has invested nearly $2 billion since its inception and has delivered a pipeline of innovative therapies and technology to people living with diabetes including my insulin pump and continue blood glucose monitoring which I have found absolutely life changing. By making a contribution you will have a direct and significant impact on the lives of all diabetics, making it easier to live a healthy and complication free life.
If you would like to donate and support me on my JDRF cycling journey please donate through this link Alex JDRF One Ride
I can honestly say that your donation will contribute to making a significant difference to my life and I will forever be grateful.