On the last Saturday in September, I will wake up at a painfully early hour in Washington, DC. I will bike to Pennsylvania Ave, the starting point of the Tour de Cure. Not at the White House, but very close to it. I will say hi to my friends, take a sip of water, and eat a bagel with peanut butter. And then I will ride 50 miles with the Tour de Cure to raise money for diabetes research.
RIDING IN THE TOUR DE CURE… BUT NOT FOR MYSELF
Here’s the thing. I’m not riding for me. I don’t care that I have to take an injection of insulin with every meal and one more at night – all into my stomach – to regulate my blood sugar. It doesn’t bother me that I have to prick my finger 1,000 times a day (ok, maybe only 6) to make sure I’m not too high or too low. And I’m not overly annoyed that I have to watch everything I eat and drink so that I don’t risk long-term damage to my health.
I’m ok with all of that. It’s amazing how fast you can adjust to major life changes when your health is at stake. I’m already used to the injections, the new diet, the blood sugar testing, and all of the other changes – small and large – that I’ve had to make ever since I was diagnosed. In Nepal. On Valentine’s Day.
Here’s what I’m not ok with.
RIDING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
My doctor told me that I was probably genetically predisposed to diabetes my entire life. I just never encountered the trigger until I traveled. If I’m genetically predisposed, then there’s a good chance the children I hope to have will be as well. I don’t ever want my kids, or anyone else’s kids for that matter, to go through the fear and the worry I went through after my diagnosis. It’s one thing to have to deal with that at 31. It wasn’t easy, but I with the help of some great friends, I have been able to control my diabetes.
I can’t imagine going through that as a child. It’s terrifying to think about a doctor having to tell any young child that he or she is diabetic. That’s what I want to prevent. That’s why I’m raising money for a cure with the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure. I don’t want any child ever again to hear the words I heard, when a doctor looked at me and said, “I’m sorry to tell you, my friend. You are diabetic.”
This was one of my first days in the hospital. I want to make it clear how much I hate IVs.
I don’t want anyone’s child taking injections with every meal, or testing blood sugar all the time, or worrying about their HbA1c. I know there are all sorts of new gizmos and widgets and gadgets that make everything a bit easier, but that misses the point. I don’t want to make it easy for kids to live as diabetics. Rather, I don’t want kids to live as diabetics in the first place.
THE TOUR DE CURE
As the name implies, the Tour de Cure is a series of bike rides across the country where teams and individual cyclists choose how far they want to ride and raise money for a cure. Riders with diabetes get a Red Rider jersey. There are rides all over the country. If you’re reading this and you don’t happen to be anywhere near Washington, DC, you can use this page to help you find your nearest ride.
3 WAYS YOU YOU CAN HELP
Naturally, this is the section where I ask for a donation to my team. I apologize for the inevitable. By the way, the team name is so clever, it warrants its own donation. Our team is Duck Phiabetes. It’s an awesome name! But that’s not where I’m going to start, because there are 2 other options.
First, you can ride with us in the Tour de Cure. I know, I know. 50 miles is a long way to ride. There are shorter rides, but we’re very ambitious. So 50 miles it is. You can sign up for our team here. If you’re going to do this, please shoot me a note so I know!
Second, you can come cheer us on. At some point on this ride, I am going to get tired. I am going to ask myself why on earth I signed up for the 50-mile ride when there was a perfectly serviceable 13-mile ride that would’ve made the point just as well. I am going to want to get off my bike and take a nap. That’s where I need some help, and I think I speak for my team when I say we need some help. Line up at any point along the route and come cheer us on. Yell out “Duck Phiabetes!” or something along those lines and we’ll know you’re there. And if you don’t see us, just keep yelling it out until every rider passes. Make sure to cheer on every single Red Rider that passes you.
I am not looking forward to the climb to the highest point.
No matter which of these options you choose, thank you for everything!!