This week’s post is a bit late but better than never:-) It comes from Thriveabetes Guest speaker, Gavin Griffiths, AKA The DiAthlete. It was meant to be posted before Thriveabetes but that didn’t happen, for some reason?!? Gavin presented “Going the Distance” to multiple groups at Thriveabetes and talked about his life with type 1 diabetes, what inspired him to take on 30 marathons in 30 days around the UK and how he works to bring awareness to the lack of access to basic diabetes care or even insulin in developing countries around the world. Here is some of Gavin’s story.
I am very much looking forward to being over in Ireland for this year’s Thriveabetes Conference and meeting everybody there! It is a fantastic initiative to reach, encourage and support people living with, and families affected by, type 1 diabetes in the country with such an event; my full praise goes to Grainne, Rebecca, Christine and all the organisers / volunteers who are making this happen!
Personally my type 1 diabetes journey started with the new Millennium, in January 2000, following a difficult Christmas period in the suburbs of London, where I had missed a lot of school before the holidays as an 8-year-old boy. The symptoms from the ‘Millennium bug’ flu virus began to alter into a dreadful need to urinate very frequently, met by an equally overwhelming quench of thirst seemingly every minute! And my guesses are, all reading this know exactly what that meant…
There has often been a squabble as to whether we should say “diabetic” or whether we should be called “people with diabetes,” perhaps you have your own preference; I tend to go by the name of ‘The DiAthlete’ because I believe, as crazy as it may sound, that in living with this condition and all the daily responsibilities it brings, we are actually much finer human-beings as a result – regardless of the slightly faulty pancreas we have. There is that famous quote in Marvel’s The Amazing Spiderman: ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ From my experiences of nearly 17 years living with type 1 diabetes, I would tweak that statement a wee bit:
“With great responsibility — comes great power.” #TeamDiAthlete!
To date I am still on the journey, perhaps not the finished article; who is? We are all on this diabetes journey whether you have lived 1 month with type 1 diabetes or whether you have lived 100 years with it (like Joe Solowiejczyk!) – there is always more to learn. By coming to a conference like this it is a positive step forwards, not only in taking the tips and motivation from the likes of Gary Scheiner, Anna Clarke, Joe and myself, but in the people you’ll meet also attending the conference, who you’ll find you’ll have so much in common with. I see the people living with diabetes around the world as one big global family – and I have been fortunate on my adventures to have met many living with type 1 and also type 2 diabetes from all corners of the globe. It doesn’t matter what colour skin you have, it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in, it doesn’t matter what your fashion sense is; what matters is we all bleed the same colour blood and in living with type 1 diabetes we all just click and relate, as we each have to understand the glucose levels inside that mentioned blood!
Most of my accomplishments to date fall under a category of ultra-endurance-madness, with such challenges as the GBR 30/30 Challenge: running 30 mile routes every day for 30 days from John O’Groats to Land’s End in the UK; the Manhattan Marathons: running 7 marathons in 7 days around Long Island, NY, for the type 1 charity Marjorie’s Fund; the mHealth Grand Tour: cycling 1500km in 9 days from Brussels to Geneva, including pedalling over a few Alp mountains; most recently the World Diabetes Tour T1D Challenge, which was a much calmer 100km hike around an active volcanic mountain called Hekla in Iceland…
Whilst I have a range of adventures to share with you at the conference, the key point is that I grew up with type 1 diabetes, wondered what this condition actually was, hated it for much of my childhood and in some regards learned my lessons the hard way. I’m not super-human, but if there is a part of me which is, well, it stems from having the right attitude when it comes to living with type 1 diabetes.