Thea's Climb to the Top for Diabetes
Starting June 14th 2014, I will be undertaking a phenomenal 10-day journey to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro with the goal of raising funds for JDRF, the leaders in research for Type 1 Diabetes. Mt. Kili is the highest freestanding mountain in the world, reaching altitudes of almost 20,000 feet. For any hope of successfully reaching the summit, this venture requires a huge amount of endurance and fitness training. I will partake in this adventure with a group of Type 1 Diabetics and several medical professionals (specializing in diabetes) from around the world.
I've lived with Type 1 Diabetes for almost 30 years. I have no major complications because of numerous factors- maintaining a strict focus on diet & active lifestyle, close monitoring by medical specialists, administration of insulin (a life sustaining medication that is produced naturally in the pancreas of non-diabetics) throughout the day, and of course depending on God to see me through. Diabetes is a life threatening illness if not closely monitored and treated every day. Type 1 diabetics must maintain a strict diet and check blood sugars 6-10 times daily while trying to keep it within as close to a normal range as possible, in order to avoid consequences such as blindness, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, amputations, or death. Keeping sugars in this range is no easy feat (actually impossible) since food, exercise, illness, and stress all effect blood sugars and cause unwanted fluctuations that make everyday living even more challenging, draining, and frustrating.
This venture serves 3 purposes for me. First and foremost, it is fulfilling a dream that I've had for decades. I have always wanted to scale this mighty and beautiful mountain, but I was hesitant to attempt such a challenge because I realize that there are just too many risk factors with Type 1 Diabetes, especially without the medical support necessary to be safe. This trip offers the opportunity that I never thought possible- to climb this mountain with medical supervision and the camaraderie of at least 19 other Type 1 Diabetics in a closely monitored environment. Secondly, this trip gives me the chance to raise money for JDRF. JDRF is the leading foundation in Type 1 Diabetes research, and it is through them that I have benefitted from phenomenal progress in diabetes treatment throughout my life. I hope to raise $5895 before June of 2014: not much time! Why $5895? Because this is the number of meters to Uhuru Peak, the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Of course I would be thrilled to raise even more! Thirdly, this trip allows me to show other Type 1 Diabetics that anything is possible. Often this disease leaves us feeling helpless and beat-down. Sometimes we are embarrassed about it. I want to inspire other Type 1's to take control of their lives, to live their dreams and passions, instead of letting Type 1 Diabetes control YOU.
Please consider donating to my Climb to the Top for Type 1 Diabetes. I need your help!!! Your financial support goes directly to JDRF and a small percentage (20%) does go to necessary trip expenses such as airfare, medical supplies, equipment, travel insurance, etc. Also, please spread the word and forward to anyone whom you think may be interested. This is an incredible opportunity, please consider being a part of it by donating whatever you can, large or small, and by spreading the word to anyone and everyone that you can. I want to represent all Type 1 Diabetics when I CHOOSE to say, diabetes doesn't stop me!
If you are interested in contributing to help support me in this venture, please click on the link above to make a donation. Thank you for whatever you can offer financially, large or small, and thank you also for any prayers you can offer on my journey!
For additional adventure details: http://www.jdrf.org.uk/get-involved/join-in-an-event/treks/jdrf-climb-kilimanjaro
As I wrap up fundraising for JDRF and this hike, I just want to thank everyone who has supported me and believed in me enough to put your money, time, energy, and anything else you have offered into making this a success!!! This is my first major fundraising journey, and man have I learned a lot!!! Such as…
1) Fundraising is not for me. It takes a lot of time which was a struggle to balance with time spent training. It takes a lot of physical, mental, and even emotional energy. It takes asking people for help, which has always been a struggle for me. It takes being an extrovert to some degree, which is difficult for such an introvert like me. I probably could have raised a lot more money too if I had put myself out there more, but I chose to put my time & energy elsewhere, but I think I did ok overall.
2) People are very generous. I never expected to raise this much money. Honestly, I truly believed that I would never reach my financial goal. I thought $2000 max, IF I was lucky. I thought that the majority of my donors would be friends (100% of whom are broke haha), and a few family members. Not so! I was so wrong! Which leads me to #3.
3) Many people whom I never expected would donate actually did! People I haven't seen or talked to in years, friends I haven't hung out with since high school, family members of those friends, people I have never even met who live both near and far away, coworkers I never would have guessed would contribute, friends who I KNOW have little or no income, even my ex-husbands family. All believed in me enough to say, "You and your cause are important to me." via contributions. Large or small, just the gesture of these contributions means so much to me in so many ways.
4) On the other end of the spectrum, many people whom I totally expected would donate never did! Friends who have seen me at my worst with this disease and know how it effects my life I rarely saw or heard from since I started this. I am not mad or offended, it just surprised me and fascinates me regarding the human psyche! Some of the people whom I consider my "closest" friends had little or no involvement in the most exciting and meaningful adventure in my life, in any way whatsoever. I was honestly too busy to care or notice at the time, but looking back it is curious. I know people are wrapped up in their own challenges, but it definitely opened my eyes to some degree. Maybe they were like, "Oh there goes Thea again, always going off on one of her crazy Thea trips!" Lol!
5) Fundraising was a chore, but success of the entire trip belongs to everyone who shared not only financial contributions but a variety of other contributions as well, such as: equipment, childcare, diabetes supplies, organizing fundraising activities, baking or donating for these fundraising activities, being my training companions, offering a place to stay while training, advice from seasoned Mt. Kili hikers, and much, much, much verbal/emotional encouragement. You have already helped me overcome so many obstacles and I haven't even started hiking up that mountain yet.
This post is to thank you. Thank you to every one of you who not only contributed in so many ways, but to those of you who follow this page and this journey. If all goes well, in two days I will board my plane and prepare for the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life. I'm so grateful to be sharing it with you.
Through rigorous training and even just the attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, I want everyone to see that a chronic illness such as T1D doesn't stop you from achieving any dream and adventure that you set your mind to! Although we must work a little harder to survive, T1's can be just as strong and healthy as anyone else, often even more so!
But research must continue, it must improve treatment and (hopefully) even a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Although T1 has made me a stronger person overall and has helped me to appreciate life and learn to live it to the fullest, it is also cruel and relentless. I hope to stay active and healthy for a long, long time, and to NOT let T1D control my life. But only time will tell what damage this disease will do. Until then… I am Type 1 Strong & achieving greatness with every step I take up that mountain!!!
Please consider a donation if you have not yet done so! 7 days from now I will be flying out of Charlotte-Douglas Airport, on my way to Canada (for a 12 hour layover), then onward to Ethiopia, then Tanzania!!! Please pray it all goes smoothly! My worst fear is that my luggage will be lost!!! =0
The good news is… financial contributions always make me feel calmer and more confident. Please consider donating if you haven't done so already! Thanks everyone ;)
Here is my training schedule for next week:
Monday: mid-day nap in my bed
Tuesday: sleep on the beach
Wednesday: sleep on the beach
Thursday: mid day nap in my bed
Friday: sleep in, sleep as much as possible
I may get in some low-intensity yoga and pilates if I can fit it into this very busy schedule. We are supposed to take it easy the last few weeks here, let our body rest and repair I guess. I am more than happy to do so.
On that note, let's celebrate taking time and commitment to physical fitness. Movement is such a wonderful thing, I am so thankful that I have the ability to move my limbs and breathe fast or slow, and do incredible things like swim, dance, run, and climb mountains. It really is a privilege that not everyone has access to.
I am NOT the most physically fit person, but I do encourage everyone, with or without chronic illnesses, to work on moving every day. Walking, running, stretching, sports, tai chi, whatever it is you enjoy. Make it a routine. Your body NEEDS that commitment from you. It's not easy to maintain that commitment. But you will be happier (via hormone production), healthier, and you will live longer and have a better quality of life. This advice comes from me as both a cardiac RN & as a T1D.
My advice to increase physical activity is for everyone, but especially for diabetics. As a T1D, I look at exercise as my "backup" in trying to maintain healthy organs and ward off complications. I know that as an insulin-dependent diabetic, I physically can NOT keep my blood sugars in a normal range, no matter how much I try. I know this puts me at risk for lots and lots of complications. But my hope is that by exercising regularly, this will reduce the risk of those complications (at least a little). My hope is that, if I stay physically active regularly and for as many years as I can, if I really make this a priority in my life, that this will ward off complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, retinopathy, gastroparesis, neuropathy, etc.
This may be silly, but it's all I've got. And studies do show that exercise will reduce the amount of insulin you need (or eliminate the need for insulin altogether in some Type 2's), and therefore control blood sugars better overall.