Monday, May 24, 2010

The Type IIIs In Life

Throughout this year, in the short time that I have been training in 2010, I have not yet mentioned those "Type IIIs" in my life. Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999, refers to those that support, love, and encourage diabetics around the world as "Type III Diabetics." For those that may not know, Type I diabetes is what is referred to as "insulin dependent diabetes," (what I have) and Type II diabetes is non-insulin dependent diabetes. Therefore, Type III occurs when you have friends, family, and other loved ones who depend on you for support in their day to day diabetes care.

I am fortunate to have many type IIIs in my life that include my parents, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and others who have had an impact on my life during the last 12 years since being diagnosed. However, I would be remiss if I did not give special mention to my wife, Jessica, who is always supportive of me and my diabetes care. She is certainly the reason that I even participate in the Ride to Cure Diabetes since she is one who truly encouraged us to participate in the event for the first time in 2009. As I mentioned in the final blog last year, she even won the spirit jersey in the '09 Sonoma Ride because of her dedication to me and the fight for a cure. Spouses and partners are arguably the most important piece of any diabetic's daily care and I am fortunate to have a wife who puts my diabetes care at the top of her priorities. She shows me greater love through this than anyone could ever replicate!

Another Type III that I need to mention is our Yorkie, Cooper. Now this may sound a little crazy, but when I am asleep at night, if I do not wake up while going low (when blood sugar dips below 80 due to too much insulin, lots of exercise, etc.), Cooper wakes up and in-turn wakes me up. This phenomenon has happened more than once over the last 2-3 years, in fact, I would say that it happens almost monthly. I mentioned this to my endocrinologist at a recent visit and she in fact confirmed that I am not crazy and that this is a sense that dogs can develop after living with someone with diabetes for so long. Another factor could be that when I am low and it is 3:00am, I eat like it is my last meal and that meal usually includes peanut butter and crackers. Cooper loves peanut butter and crackers so he may have ulterior motives when he wakes me up as well! He is currently training our newest canine family addition, Stella, so that she can hone her own low blood sugar identification skills.

I could go on and one but without making a long list I do want to thank everyone who has ever asked me about my diabetes, financially contributed to one of our many fundraisers, or supported any other diabetic in any way. Diabetes can be a lonely journey and it is you, our Type IIIs, that keep us going day after day. Thank you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Thumbs Up

I had a great ride this morning through our neighborhood and downtown Knoxville. With my first ride "event" of the year coming up on June 5th at the ADA Tour de Cure, I knew that I needed to get a good long ride under my belt. My plan was to hit the 30 mile mark today and I successfully shattered that goal by reaching 30.2 miles in 2:02 hours. I was certainly pleased with this ride and felt good afterwards. By the end of the ride it was high noon and temperatures were approaching 90 degrees. Needless to say, it was hot, but not as hot as Death Valley, CA will be on October 16!

During my ride today, I headed towards the UT Campus and the banks of the Tennessee River. For those that know Knoxville, I was on Neyland Drive heading east towards downtown and Calhoun's. Minding my own business, in my oh-so-fashionable spandex bike shorts, a mid-90's Plymouth Grand Voyager started tailing me pretty close. This was THE van 10-15 years ago, as many of you know. The model that was tailing me today seemed to be in pretty good shape, had tented windows, and in need of a paint job for the superior silver finish. After a half a mile or so, I started wondering if this person was intentionally on my tail or not. She eventually pulled over into the left lane and passed me, throwing up a big "thumbs up" as she passed. I am still not sure if she was intrigued by my Ride to Cure Diabetes jersey or the spandex. Either way, hopefully she realized that I am just one person out there fighting for a cure and hopefully that was really a thumb and not a middle finger!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Wet Ride!

I set out for a nice long ride on Sunday afternoon but was cut short with the lighting and downpour that ensued shortly after beginning the ride! I suppose that on one level it is all about the effort but hey, I need to get some miles on those new wheels and hours in the saddle. Depending on how my rides over the next couple of weeks go, I am supposed to be riding in the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure in Knoxville on Saturday, June 5th. They have 25, 62, and 100 mile routes...100 is definitely out of the question but at this point I am hoping that I can muscle through the 62 mile metric century. This would be a great start to my long summer of training. Will keep you posted!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Slowly but Surely

I am slowly but surely getting back into training for 2010. This year it has been tougher to get regular rides in than it was last year. I am hoping that this slowness is simply a factor of rusty wheels and that once I get going I will be on a more regular schedule.

On June 5th I plan on doing the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure event in Knoxville. This looming event is giving me some motivation to get going on training as I hope to do the 62 mile metric century ride on the 5th. I think that part of the reason my training is going slow so far is because the JDRF Ride in Death Valley is not until October and I know that I have "plenty" of time to train. Nonetheless, it is time to get in gear and get miles on the tires and time in the saddle.

Thanks for everyones support thus far and I will try to update the blog with more interesting information, more often!

Oh, one more note of interest. If you are in Knoxville, please join us this Saturday for the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in downtown Knoxville. Registration begins at 8:30am in World's Fair Park.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

40 Years: Is a cure close?

Forty years ago this year, the parents of children with diabetes formed what is now the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Since the organization's founding in 1970, over $1.4 billion has been raised to support the quest for a cure to diabetes and its complications. This year marks an awkward milestone for JDRF, the 40 year anniversary "celebration." However, what is there really to celebrate? JDRF, as they say, is "in business to put themselves out of business." Since the lights at the JDRF home office in New York City and in the 100+ chapters and branches nationwide are still on, they clearly have more work to do. Details about what has been accomplished and the plans that JDRF has in this, its 40th year.
The irony of this year being the 40th Anniversary of JDRF's founding is that the name of our ride team is "The Shafer Ten Year Team." As I explained last year, we named the team in this way because when I was diagnosed on October 23, 1998, I was told that a cure would likely be found within the next 10 years. Obviously, 12 years later, there is still no cure yet. That is why the Ride to Cure Diabetes and JDRF still exist.

Since I was diagnosed, I have taken what seems like endless shots, tested my blood sugar constantly at all hours of the day and night, and carefully managed food and exercise. However, I am able to take care of myself. The individuals who could really use a cure are the extremely young and the extremely elderly. I do well to take care of myself, but could you imagine managing diabetes for a 16 month old? I'd like to share several numbers of note that may help illustrate the life of any diabetic, not just myself.

  • Diagnosed for nearly 139 months, roughly 4,170 days.
  • Test blood sugar approximately 25,350 times.
  • Used over 209,000 units of insulin totaling over 209 vials (roughly $100 each)
Diabetes care and supplies are a big business. This is why we ride, to raise money to find a cure so that the millions worldwide no longer have to endure. After 40 years, JDRF has made great strides towards a cure, but we are not there yet.

Your support of our team is appreciated! If you can donate, great, but if not, please know that your thoughts and prayers are needed for our quest to find this cure.