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Rolling With My Pancreas: Fighting the Hypos

January 20, 2019

I sat there, sweating and shaking, trying to make sense of where I was.

“You OK?”

It was my coach. I was in the locker room, alone and thoroughly confused.

“I’m good,” I lied.

“You almost got locked in here,” he said, still trying to figure out what was going on with me.

I’d just made my return to training, and hadn’t figured out my “routine.”

(Over the last three years, my routine has consisted of eating certain foods at certain times prior to training; keeping track of my blood glucose in the hour leading up to going to the gym, and having “sports drinks” at the ready throughout my classes.)

I scrambled, got dressed and offered up some apologies. Then I headed out to my car, where I started eating glucose tablets until my blood sugar returned to an acceptable level.

So I made a decision that night: never again. Never again would I push through when I thought a hypo could happen like this. Never again would I put my health or safety at this kind of danger again.

It was about 9:15 p.m. and I’d just finished a class. I could tell my sugar was dropping, but obviously not this much. I remember small details from my last couple rolls: mainly that I’m lucky one of my training partners didn’t go home with my arms.

When I started training, almost 11 years ago, I was an “MDI” (multiple daily injections) diabetic. I trained for two years, then had a five-year hiatus. When I started back, I was using the Medtronic 530g pump with CGM (continuous glucose monitor), which was OK, but it wasn’t powerful enough to provide CGM readings during class.

Just over a year ago, I started using Medtronic’s 670g with Guardian CGM, and the difference has been night and day. It can now track your CGM readings throughout class, which informs whether I should have water or a sports drink during breaks.

Since that night, I’ve begged off of rolls when my sugar has dropped. My coaches, I hope, realize that I’m not trying to avoid tough training. (I can only hope.)

This past August I got promoted to purple belt, and I’ve taken that promotion very seriously. I’m 48, so my days competing are probably limited, but I thought I could take this opportunity to show that people with diabetes aren’t limited in what we can do or achieve.

Type 1 Diabetes Defense Foundation patch on my blue BreakPoint gi.

In September I connected with an organization, the Type 1 Diabetes Defense Foundation, which is a small but mighty group based in Oregon who are dedicated to ensuring equal rights for people with diabetes. (I wish I knew about them a few years ago, but more on that later.) T1DF has provided me with branded rash guards and patches, and I’ve added their patch to my competition Gi, a blue BreakPoint Flight Gi (because blue is the color of diabetes awareness, after all).

Here’s to many more rolls, and years of balanced sugars.

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