Saturday, 9 July 2016

CWD ffl 2016

I'm once again on a plane and blogging with my thumbs. This time I am in my way back from he children with diabetes conference in Orlando. It's one of my favourite events in diabetes, nothing makes me happier than the energy kids bring to these events. I love to share the things I have learned about diabetes with young people. I certainly wish I had such a positive environment to support me when I began my diabetes journey .

What CWD and the work we are doing on the reservation have in common is peer support and mentorship. As you can see on we believe that people need role models who look like them and who live like them. We learn better from people likened than we do from people who we can't relate to, and seeing someone like us achieve great things makes us believe we can do the same. For a young person with diabetes today, there are no barriers to anything they want to achieve; be that climbing Everest or recording a hit single. Where barriers do exist is in access to education and supplies. We want to work on bringing down the barriers between people and their better health through empowering them to be changemakers in their own community .

It was also really nice to be at the hub of the diabetes community and experience the feeling of safety and support that comes from understanding and acceptance of what diabetes is and what it isn't. Diabetes is something you have to manage, balance and acknowledge. But diabetes isn't an excuse and when you remove the blocks that we create in our own mind about doing things with diabetes we can move our horizons higher. For kids with diabetes , and adults with diabetes, these blockages can be mental or physical and the thing that we do and that CWD does is break those barriers down so people with diabetes can live healthier and happier lives .

We hope you'd like to help , and you can do so here

Thursday, 21 April 2016

we need your money!

Hi friends, 
Sorry it's been a while. Whilst I've been away, I've become a doctor (I still don't look like one), bike packed across Baja (that was supermegafun) and only broken one major limb in 12 months (that's good going for me). I wanted to share a little request, it's not for me but it's from me. I know many people with diabetes, with an interest in cycling or with nothing better to do read this. So I thought I would share. 
As many of you know, I help with  a program that works with people in the Native American community living with Diabetes. We use a community based intervention entered on exercise and education to empower people to live healthier and happier lives. I myself have diabetes and understand the value of a support structure outside of a medical team, and of exercise in diabetes management. I also understand how fun it is to ride bikes.
What we do is create a system where people on the Pascua Yaqui reservation serve as role models for each other and mentor each other in increasing exercise and improving diet, we help remove the barriers between them and a healthy diet/ exercise by providing bikes, equipment and a mobile market. We focus on an event in November at which our riders join over 8000 others in riding various distances up to and including 109 miles. We had over 100 people ride this year, 4 years ago a Yaqui person had never ridden the event.
We can demonstrate drops in Hba1c (long term blood glucose control) which are ten times better than traditional interventions (which we like to term "white people in white coats") what we can't do is get those white people in white coats to fund our program.
Our NIH Proposal cam dup against the objection that our mentors are under qualified ( i don't know anyone better qualified to work in the native community than native people, certainly not me with a doctorate). We also met the objection that cycling is dangerous (with a life expectancy below 50 for people with diabetes on the rez, i would argue that not cycling is far more dangerous). I understand that it can be hard for people a long way from where we are to understand our circumstances, but I also understand what it means to give someone their health and future back and I need help, and money, to keep doing that.
I'm looking for funding and I'm sure someone here reading this has access to it, if you have any ideas or contacts please get in touch. We're in a rough spot between research and philanthropy because we are doing a little of both and a lot of good . I'd be forever indebted for your help. Thanks 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

I haven't written my blog for ages, but the only thing worse than intermittent blogs are intermittent blogs which apologize for being intermittent. So sorry i'm not sorry!

anyway, i wanted to write a tiny bit about the change from bike racing to non profit and the pleasure it brings me. One of my Yaqui friends posted a photo today. A photo of her, her son , her husband and her nephew going for a bike ride. It's not that remarkable, it's 5 Native American people in lycra on various bikes. But for some reason it made tear up . 4 years ago that wouldn't have happened and if all my friends hadn't helped as much as they have it wouldn't be happening. And the fact it happens means so much to me, to the community and to the health of those people and future generations.

It's hard to know how to feel, this means more to me than bike racing ever did. I've won bike races before, not many but some. but when i saw that picture the joy was far more profound than any pleasure i experienced in a skinsuit with a number on. Maybe it's because nobody had to be defeated for me to win, or maybe it's because it's not a victory that will be meaningless in 6 days. But I have never cried, or cared so deeply, about bike racing.

It's a funny feeling. I don't get to punch the air, or stand on an inverted box, or get kissed by two women in a weird sexualized ritual that upsets me, or spray crappy sparkling wine on my friends. And when i wake up tomorrow nobody's world will be any different and i can't clip the page out of the newspaper that reports my result, or send a photo to my granny. but somehow it still feels wonderful, because the results aren't a trophy or a cheque or a jersey. The results are people seeing their children grow up, Living happy, healthy lives and being empowered to stretch their horizons. I always took bike riding for granted until I saw that not everyone could. sharing that with them is the most special thing i have ever done, and the support that people who read this give me in doing that means an awful lot to me.

If you want t donate, you can do so here but this isn't so much about asking you to donate as sharing something with other people that makes my life a very happy one. I have written a lot about bike racing and my journey with diabetes and cycling and I think that it has bought me here, to the best possible road with the most beautiful views i can imagine. I can't wait to see where it goes next!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

broken bones

I'm typing this with one hand because the other one is in an ultrasound machine ( don't worry, my forearm isn't pregnant) which is supposed to make my bones heal more quickly. A week ago, I was finishing up a decent block of training , riding down a hill and eating a cookie. Apparently I share some qualities with Gerald Ford because I managed to wipe myself out and break the radial head of my elbow (third time I've done that) . I managed to laugh at myself, ride back to a convenient place to meet a friend, drop the cookie and smash my helmet.

I took a trip to urgent care, told the doctor I had a radial head fracture, he told me that he would be the judge of what was wrong with me. Then he looked at my X ray and informed me i had a radial head fracture. He put me in a plaster cast. I took a dremel to that pretty quickly, but not before getting in a few quality signatures.

Since then I have ridden a super secret new bike (don't tell the doctor I did that) , visited Trek HQ in Wisconsin (look out for an article in RIDE) and attempted to start running whilst I heal. Wisconsin was great, I rode on fantastic roads, met great people and ate some great food. I consider it a measure of how good my new friends are when I can rely on them to dress/ undress me within a week of meeting them. In general, anyone prepared to listen to me swearing about every bump we ride over and still drink beer with me afterwards passes the friend test.

I was thinking about all the times I have broken myself today whilst I was making inglorious progress through Balboa park and thought it might be fun to make a list. In all honesty I don't really mind the pain that occurs when I break bones, it has never really felt that terrible. But it does make me sad when I have to curtail my adventures to spend time in plaster.

in no particular order, here are some highlights

broken wrist , twice. Falling out of a tree and riding a borrowed mountain bike at the Sea Otter classic , apparently real 'mericans run their brakes the other way around

broken pelvis, i think we all remember that one

compound fracture of my spine (thanks to the lady who drove into me and drove off)
the first bracelet was when I was only speaking nonsense in French and nobody knew my name!
Broken ribs -  have a video of that one

Broken nose - the same way every young adult male gets a broken nose, someone punched me in the face

broken metatarsal in my hand - i punched him in the head

herniated discs - godawful bike fit , rowing

clavicle - Old pubelo Grand Prix

Scapula - road biking on a mountain bike

you get the picture, anyway each bump and break and crack comes with a great story attached. I wouldn't trade any of them for a safe life wrapped in cotton wool in a cubicle. Thanks to the guys at cycle fit, I keep getting back on my bike somehow and finding ways to go fast enough to hurt myself again, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

Friday, 20 March 2015

good fortune, donkeys and Karl Marx

It's been an inexorably long time since I wrote something for this page. No shortage of flights, rest days and thesis procrastination opportunities have gone unused . I could probably make excuses about AYUDA work, finishing my Phd or even writing down my thoughts in RIDE. But realistically there's still time, I just spend it working on my perfect cappuccino and seeing how many things I can balance on my Roomba whilst it clatters around my tiny home. 

Rather than boring you with the mundane details of what I've been up to, I wanted to take your time and use it to reflect on something we don't think about enough : luck. This applies to both the possible reasons you've come here: cycling and diabetes (if you've come here because you're one of my parents, your luck has run out, sorry to be the bearer of bad news). I'm both cases I think most of us are incredibly blind to our good fortune . 

I've read quite a few cyclist's autobiographies this year for the magazine and, if there's one trend, it's the consistent narrative of sacrifice , hard work and desire. Nearly every athlete claims that's what got them to the top. They fail to mention that they were already pretty close to the top when they still had stabilizers on their bikes. When you're born with a v02 max of 78, the sacrifices you make are always going to be rewarded. And that's fine, you're very fortunate. I do think thT as athletes we owe those who don't excel a little more respect than to suggest that we just "wanted it more". Realistically, anyone who gets paid to race a bike is very fortunate. And the sacrifices we make to do it (or made in many cases) are, in the grand scheme of things , minor. Even the amateur guys getting up at 5 am have to give up more than most pros in terms of sleep , social life and spending money. And even then getting up early to partake in your hobby is hardly a day down the mines is it? 

Whilst this narrative isn't intended to be dismissive or dangerous we should apply some caution to it. I see an increasing number of young cyclists making frankly irresponsible decisions based in the notion that anyone can achieve lofty goals if they are willing to give up other things. It's sad, but that's not true. I work with athletes as a coach and I think it's important to be clear with them that all i can make them is the best version of themselves they can be . And that that is a great thing to be. No amount of gluten free food , massage and foam rolling will turn a donkey into a race horse, but sometimes , there's a place for a damn fine donkey. 

The same is true in the world of diabetes , it's very easy for us to make our condition all about ourselves , to speak a narrative of sickness and suffering. In reality , we don't suffer from diabetes in the developed world , I don't suffer from diabetes. I just get pissed off by it sometimes. People do suffer from
Diabetes , people die from diabetes . I understand that some people, sometimes, in the USA, have died from hypos. But as someone living with diabetes you're still way more likely to die in your car. So instead, we should do those less fortunate than is the courtesy of acknowledging out own good fortune. None of us worked out way into being born rich. I'm always happy when young people I work with choose to test more and take a more active role i. Their blood glucose management , but I am as happy when they acknowledge the great good fortune they have to be able to make that choice. In general , I find that acknowledging the latter helps with the former. We realize that we didn't earn our right to be privileged , but that it would be asinine to waste such great good fortune.

Marx said that "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past."  I agree , I think the amongst the most empowering things we can Do is be hike enough to step back from the narrative of agency and acknowledge the role of fortune . We dont have to allot everything to luck, there's a lot we can change still. But the fact that we get the chance to change our lives and those of others is, in itself, a great stroke of luck . 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

world diabetes day

November the 14th is World Diabetes day, that means that all over the world (in theory) people stop and think about Diabetes. In practice it means that those of us with the luxury of access to information and free time and energy pay attention to diabetes for about 5 minutes. Please take your 5 minutes to read this:

Diabetes is a condition which, with access to insulin and testing supplies is of little impediment to my life. I'm very lucky to be able to travel, exercise and make a fool of myself every day despite the fact that my pancreas doesn't fo everything it should. Many organizations want your money for a cure for diabetes, that's very nice and I hope that they have every success in their work.

As a young(er) person I spent a lot of time travelling, if I had been born in another part of the world, my life would have been very different. Life expectancy with type one diabetes is 8 - 12 months in Mali. That's less than most cancers and even HIV in many places. Again Diabetes is a condition which is entirely treatable with access to insulin and supplies.

There is only one barrier between my reality and a very different one where i die at 18 years old. That barrier is access to medication, I have it and many don't but without it I'd be long gone. 3 companies make insulins, they all continue to practice olligopolisticaly in order to maintain a high and inaccessible price for insulin. As a result of this people die, every day.

you probably bought a poppy for armistice day, several rubber bracelets for something or other and a handful of pink things in October. I don't want you to light up any buildings in a funny colour or run 10k dressed in a silly costume or even wear a little ribbon. I just want you to engage with 100 campaign and to care about  the incredibly unjust pricing of medications in today's world. I say it a lot but nobody should be poor because they're sick or sick because they're poor. Please take a second longer to think about this, to exercise your empathy and to think about life on the other side of the access divide. Cures are great, but let's work with what we have first and make sure we share it with everyone who needs it before we create another inaccessible medication for a privileged few.   #wdd2014 #diabetes #wdd

Monday, 14 July 2014

Bastille day and a brief story

 It's Bastille day. A few years ago it was also Bastille day when I decided to race in France even though i'd had my ribs broken by an angry cow three days before.

 I rode to the race because it was only 30k away (but i forgot to factor in the Pyrenees so I only just made it). Then i took sleeping pills instead of the paracetamol i thought i had bought. Then we all crashed into a dog, French people flicked lit cigarette butts at me whenever i poked my nose off the front.

 I won a bottle of wine,  i got a flat riding home and arrived in Lourdes in the dark with no battery left in my front light. I drank the wine.

 I sometimes wonder how i have managed to continue being alive.