I Want To Live…

I want to live. Makes sense, right? Most people do. Most people have the opportunity. Not many people fight for that privilege. And I know what you’re thinking…. Why should someone have to fight for the privilege of living? Well, I don’t mean fighting for the privilege of staying alive because of oppression, war or famine. I mean fighting for the privilege to live against something that came to be, completely out of one’s control. If none of you have guessed that I’m talking about Diabetes at this point, let me clarify: I’m talking about Diabetes.

One of the best things about living in modern times, is that Diabetes is no longer an automatic death sentence. If you were diagnosed with Diabetes prior to the creation and distribution of insulin, that was pretty much it. I’ve written posts about how long a Type-1 can survive without insulin, even if they completely eliminate carbohydrates and continue to exercise. So I won’t get into that part, since that’s not what this post is about. Needless to say, insulin isn’t JUST about lowering blood sugar levels.

People have often asked me why I push so hard when I exercise, or why I do so much. I’ve had folks commenting on the fact that by the time I’ve completed a workout, I look like a wet cat who got stuck in the rain. Sometimes, it’s can be belittling or condescending; as though they’re suggesting that I shouldn’t be a sweaty mess in a public place where other folks can see. It’s almost akin to those who make fun of an overweight person in the gym for trying to get in shape. Granted, not EXACTLY the same, but the concept is the similar.

I learned from a very young age that Diabetes would show me no quarter. If I let up my guard, even for a day or two, it would find a way to swoop in and make my life difficult. Maybe this difficulty would come in the form of high or low blood sugars, which typically fuck with my entire day. Or maybe it would simply make me more susceptible to illness and make my day-to-day interactions all the more dangerous. Or perhaps it’ll take something simple like stubbing one’s toe and turn it into an automatic, infected toenail. Just because it can. Diabetes shows no mercy because it has no emotion.

Fitness is an important part of ANYONE’s lifestyle. It’s no secret that someone who doesn’t exercise regularly will face a host of health problems too numerous to list here. But staying fit and active is an important part of life and all the more so for someone with Diabetes. Again, from a young age I recognized this, especially in light of my doctors telling me I’d die due to Diabetes complications before I reached my teens (I’m now well into my forties, in case you were wondering).

I guess where I’m going with this is that there are a number of different reasons to work out and go to the gym. Some people want to get fit, some want to get muscular and some want to lose weight. hell, some people go to the gym simply to be social and see certain key people they may associate with. And that’s fine. At the end of the day, whatever your reasons for training consistently will never be bad. Anything will always be something more than nothing. My point is you’ll be able to easily discern who’s training to get fit and who’s training to save their lives.

That’s what I do. I train in order to save my life. I train because if I don’t, Diabetes complications will reach me all the sooner and take away something that I need in order to live. That’s why I’ll spend an entire hour on a cardio machine at a high level and end up soaked and breathing hard. That’s why I rarely take break days or rest days. Diabetes never takes a rest, so why should I? I push myself because I’m trying to stay ahead of a condition that will ultimately end my life, despite all the therapies, despite all the available resources and despite all my efforts.

And that’s the ultimate punchline of my existence. This is a race against time and a race against a condition that I will inevitably succumb to, despite my best efforts. But like trying to outrun an oncoming tornado, I have to try. I need to give it my all because I refuse to let it take me down. I have too much to live for. I owe it to myself and to those who matter in my life. I’m fighting against complications. I’m fighting against organ failure. I’m fighting against death. Besides, I’m well aware that there are those who push and train harder than me, anyway. But my efforts are mine and mine alone.

So, the next time you see me breathing hard at the gym, it doesn’t mean I’m “out of shape” or new to working out. When you see me walking away from a machine looking drenched like an alley cat left out in the rain, it isn’t because I couldn’t handle the exercise I was doing or I was doing too much. It’s because I’m fighting for my life. And if you don’t come out of that fight bloody and covered in sweat, you’re not really fighting. And you will lose. Ask yourself why YOU do it. No matter what your reason, you should never judge someone’s efforts or appearance when trying to better themselves. Whether it’s someone trying to get slimmer or fitter or someone who is simply trying to prolong his life long enough to see his children into adulthood. Food for thought… ☯️

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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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