I N T R O D U C T I O N
Accomplishing a first marathon is an extremely proud and momentous occasion especially when training takes nine months before the actual event. This was my first marathon through the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Having been in existence for the last twenty-five years or so, personal familiarity with this organization was all too comfortable. I am one of three diabetics in a family of five biological children.
With a deep personal interest involved, such an affair became all encompassing. Having raised $2,000.00 of the required $3,000.00, I was proudly on my way to Dublin, Ireland, to take part in that country’s “Friendly Marathon.”
And so it was. After completing a little more than half the marathon, 17 miles to be exact, I decided to be a tourist and enjoy the rest of the scenery with my husband before my knees wore out completely. But this book is not about that beautiful country or my glorious touristy adventures. It is about me. This is my story. I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1959 at the precious age of 2. At this writing I have been diabetic for fifty years. I almost gladly entitled this work Diabetes: Infancy to Menopause, but the present name came about through a particular fact that you will read on page 37. Yes, I honestly believe I was born with it. It didn’t “just happen,” and then was diagnosed a few years later.
In the meantime, many other books, articles (some written by me), magazine publications, etc., on the subject of diabetes are in existence and have been throughout my life. Media attention granted to this subject brings a trickle of joy to my soul if only to think that people are thinking about it.
This disease, already known as an “epidemic,” has in recent years been labeled as a “pandemic.” This means that it now covers and concerns the world and has become a frightening fact. It frightens me. Simply, it is “out of control,” a huge degradation for the diabetics that fight to survive, that fight to keep their bodies in one piece, that fight to sustain jobs, careers, family and overall happiness. A diabetic like me. Sadly enough, the continuing fundraising for more and more research has become a bottomless pit.
“Write a book!” bellowed Owen while driving the tour bus. “Write. Write it down. All of it. No matter what it is!” Therefore, I share the story of my life with diabetes with you. Having written it has been a dream come true.
After completion of this marathon and my two-week stay in Ireland, the ‘bellowing’ bus driver, Owen, became a brief yet essential character in my life at that time. It is proof to me of how all of humanity is linked in one continuous chain. It was during a tour through northwestern Ireland, its coast and inlay, that Owen proclaimed his thoughts. Owen is an inspiration to this writing.
My endeavors, all of them specifically for this particular event – the nine-months of training, the time, the diet, the wardrobe, the taping of feet, special attention to footwear, and more time – were for the cure of this baffling and devastating disease known as Diabetes. After all, having been medically classified as a “juvenile diabetic,” that is what I was to remain all my life. Then again, maybe not. Maybe I will be given a shot to make this go away! That title, Juvenile Diabetic, also became a learned stereotype on me in the medical community.
My siblings and I have knocked door-to-door for monetary contributions for a cure toward diabetes when we were children. That experience is explained on page 57. Also having participated in yearly 5k and 10k walks to raise money toward the cure has culminated over the last four and a half decades. This particular marathon was to be special. Although I have not limited my fundraising activities to diabetes, I’ve “wogged” for other fundraisers (e.g., Multiple Sclerosis, Heart Disease, Lung Disease, Breast Cancer, Leukemia, etc).
“Wogging” is a phrase I like to claim fame to: it’s the act of walking and jogging. There’s also “wog-run” where I have started off running, going into a speedier jog if only because I feel good, I know I can do it for another minute and then break out in a sweaty yet exhilarating run; slow down to a jog and back to a brisk walk. Once mentioning this to others, I am looked at quizzically and asked for an explanation. The term has since come to my ears from the lips of others. That makes me smile. Creativity always at play! It was understood meaning I was understood.
The highlight of this particular marathon was again for the cure, the actual cure of diabetes. I believed it was going to happen if only because I was a part of this team – this team of strangers that were also walking, wogging, running people who believed along with me. Well, knowing that personal participation was a necessity – a dire necessity – I was ready, willing, able, and determined to assist with the cure for this uncomfortably progressive disease. Anticipation was overflowing! Sponsors were continually contacted and updated; sponsorship checks were rolling in to help fulfill a required commitment to meet the ADA’s goal per participant at $3.000.00. My energy level was overflowing!
Family, friends, neighbors, strangers believed along with me. I had their checks, I had their cash. They were all going to help me wog and get that cure! I felt blessed.
Scheduled to take place on October 30, 2000, this “Friendly Marathon” brought a delightful, anticipatory visit to Ireland. Never having visited this part of Europe, excitement was enhanced through the overall participation of this marathon and my having made a huge commitment. With that monetary goal figure in mind along with the registration fee, the personal training, and the bulk of tremendous planning and organizing, February was a great time to start! When September rolled around and I accomplished 17.5 miles along the concrete shore of the Pacific Ocean in 3.5 hours between the cities of Torrance, California, and Manhattan Beach, California, I knew I was ready. Self-perseverance with a positive attitude became one and the same. This attitude was grown and nurtured from my very beginnings! I knew what my body could and could not take. Once again I was learning and re-learning how to take care of myself.
With a diligent and purposefully pre-planned earlier arrival than was expected to Ireland, departure took place from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on October 25th to arrive in Dublin International Airport (DUB) on October 26th. As the marathon schedule was to take place on October 30th, this early-bird planning was for good reason. I needed to adjust my insulin dosages, get acquainted and acclimated with the environment, learn where available restaurants and foods stores were, as well as become psychologically ready for this endeavor.
I must tell you, I wasn’t alone. My husband of ten years at the time, Wayne, rented a bicycle when we reached Dublin, Ireland, and was able to ride by my side as I wogged. As it was bitter cold and rainy, known as the “worst storm in fifty years,” Wayne wore socks on his hands because of no available gloves. We were not expecting and not prepared for such miserably wet and cold weather. On his back he toted a backpack full of water, juices, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, and glucose tabs – just in case. I am ever so glad he did because there were no such preparations that I saw on our route. He carried enough for a few other marathoners if the need arose. Many of them are diabetics.
And so, dear reader, I’ve walked in your shoes, wogged in your shoes, and maybe even ran in them! I consider this book as a deadline to my life. I must share my story, my life as a diabetic, with you who know all too well or do not know at all. If you believe as I do, my intuition, my spirit, my soul has been magnetized to write this book. I want to be an inspiration for you. There has not been a day or night in the many years that it took to accomplish this task that my conscious mind, through angelic voices or spirit guides, has encouraged and motivated this effort. Yes, this dream has been side-tracked. However, I need to be of service to you, dear reader, through this story of my life with diabetes.
Be aware that, even though this is an autobiography, much research was used to further express facts and my personal opinions.
I describe myself as being a winsome, attractive, extremely personable, friendly, knowledgeable, resourceful, helpful woman; a ‘giver’ as opposed to a ‘taker. In no way, shape or form does my physique even hint at the terminal condition that assails my body.
I am a realist, I am an optimist, I am a believer, I am always a learner, I am many things. I invite you to encounter my life. I need you to know what is has been like.
My life has been a tapestry Of rich and royal hue. An everlasting vision Of an ever-changing view. A wondrous woven magic In bits of blue and gold. A tapestry to feel and see, Impossible to hold. Once amid the soft Silver sadness in the sky, There came a man of fortune – A drifter passing by. He wore a torn and tattered cloth Around his leathered hide And a coat of many colors, Yellow green on either side.
He moved with some uncertainty As if he didn’t know Just what he was there for Or where he ought to go. Once he reached for something Golden hanging from a tree But his hand came down empty.
Soon within my tapestry Along the rutted road He sat down on a river rock And turned in to a toad. It seemed that he had fallen Into someone’s wicked spell. And I wept to see him suffer, Though I didn’t know him well.
As I watched in sorrow There suddenly appeared A figure grey and ghostly Beneath a flowing beard. In times of deepest darkness I’ve seen him dressed in black. Now my tapestry’s unraveling. He’s come to take me back. He’s come to take me back.
Sung by Carole King on her “Tapestry” Album/CD.