Letting Me Off My Leash, Free-Range Diabetic

I don’t think I need to explain that people take most common, everyday things for granted. I experience this a lot because despite the advancements I’ve lived through in the past 38 years, it’s difficult to move around without a SIGNIFICANT amount of supplies. The fact that I’m fed up of it likely makes it sound way worse than it is. But eventually, a guy gets tired of carrying around a man purse just so that he can run some errands throughout the morning without concern. The “for granted” aspect comes in because most people fail to recognize how lucky they are to be able to just step out of the house with abandon.

A week ago, I decided that I would sit through a specific bus route that I would be using for work. This was so that I could time out my entry into the city in the mornings without the concern of being late. Alexander was napping, Nathan was gone to school and my wife was hard at work in front of her own computer, so I felt it was a good opportunity to go out for an hour or two. I started to pack my usual shoulder sling of supplies, when a wave of impatience struck me and I decided to go in a different direction.

I tested my blood. Perfectly normal with no insulin “on board.” Good. I took some sinus medication so that I wouldn’t suffocate through the wearing of a mask in public for a couple of hours. Excellent. That shit’s supposed to last a few hours, anyway. I had my wallet and identification, and I grabbed a face mask and stepped out the door. I waited a matter of minutes at the bus stop and after a 22-minute bus ride, I was in the downtown core and stepping into the local shopping centre.

Not my mall, by the way. I didn’t want to be the creepy dude snapping photos in the mall.

I spent about an hour and a half downtown, walking around and browsing through some of the shops before grabbing the bus for the return journey. My blood sugars didn’t bottom out, I didn’t die and I didn’t find myself needing anything that I would usually pack and drag along. It felt really nice, being able to just step out of the house and go somewhere. It felt “non-diabetic.” I’d like to say it felt normal, but I’ve had Type-1 Diabetes for so damn long that being Diabetic feels normal to me.

I’ve managed to compress what I carry throughout the course of a day into one small, single-shouldered sling and it usually contains the following:

  • Fast-Acting Carbohydrates: I favour jellybeans as they seem to work fastest for me;
  • Nasal Spray: I’ve had some mild sinus issues since childhood and occasionally need a spritz. Wearing a face mask also makes it harder to breathe;
  • Blood Glucose Meter: Besides the fact that my insulin pump seems to be a temperamental bitch who screams at me every couple of hours despite smooth blood sugars, frequent blood sugar testing is still required to ensure the proper calibration of my CGM. Plus, should there be an issue with the CGM, I need to have the ability to properly ascertain my blood sugar levels; and
  • Extra Supplies: This is a broad one, but it can involve anything, including spare pump supplies, extra insulin or added lancets and strips. There can be a lot more, depending on the situation.

Most of the time, it’s just for when I go out. But realistically, when I travel to Saskatoon overnight, I often opt for something small and portable to carry. Considering I travel up, get the injections, sleep it off then drive right back down the following day, I make a point not to pack a huge suitcase. There are no nights out on the town, requiring extra clothing or special stuff. But when I make a point to stop and take notice, I really never leave the house without bringing a whole shwack of crap! This comes from years of situations where I’ve developed a “better to have it and not need it” mentality, as it relates to Diabetes.

It felt nice to be out for a few hours without dragging a bunch of stuff. I almost felt normal, walking among people. Note that I said “almost.” Besides, as I said earlier, I’ve had Diabetes for so long that it seems normal to ME. I can hear some friends thinking, “Shawn? Normal…?” Come on, guys! Give me a break! I’m about as normal as I’m ever going to get. But seriously, if you’ve ever had a friend text you to randomly go for coffee or you’ve decided to go sit through a movie on a whim, appreciate that freedom for what it is. There are so many things that a Type-1 Diabetic needs to consider before leaving the house that it almost makes it tedious to do so. Don’t take the little freedoms for granted. Sometimes, they’re the best ones. ☯

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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