Wednesday, 12 June 2013

little hands and latex gloves

It’s been a while since I’ve been the victim of quite so much intimate touching in such a short period of time. I just managed to blag my way out immigration detention in Miami and make it onto a flight to Dallas (yeah I’m on the culture tour) after a few hours of interrogation, some back handed groping and allegations of being an intravenous drug user (who apparently takes care to preload needles with 5 iu portions of drugs?).  Fortunately the cool welcome of the land of the free couldn’t put a dampener on the incredibly warm and not insignificantly fuzzy feeling generated by a couple of weeks volunteering with Ayuda in the Dominican Republic. For every time a gun toting moron shouted at me today, I laughed ten times with adorable Dominican children last week. For every time someone’s latex gloves patted my gentleman’s bits a few hours ago, 20 little arms gave me hugs.

Sunday was the climax of a week of great work on the part of our dedicated team of volunteers both from North America and the Dominican Republic. It’s a cliché to say so but I really feel it’s such a privilege to share things I love with people and moving around outside and diabetes education feature pretty high on my list of things I love (also up there are beer, coffee and chocolate which all happen to be made in the DR). there’s really nothing better than the feeling of giving someone the joy that I get riding my bike, it’s the gift that keeps on giving (and occasionally the gift that lands me in the ER with massive trauma but we’ll gloss over that). To give someone the tools they need to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes is a tremendously empowering experience for both parties, to see someone take ownership of themselves and their condition, to realize that diabetes needn’t be a burden and they shouldn’t feel shame about their condition makes me so happy.

We spent the week promoting healthy living, diet and exercise with or without diabetes. We travelled around schools television studios to radio stations sometimes in Spandex and sometimes in fancy linen trousers (until I ripped the arse out of them attempting to dance mernegue) . We planned games for young kids with diabetes which would be both fun and educative (educafun?) and our volunteers shared their own experiences living healthy, happy lives with and without diabetes. We slept very little and laughed a lot. We also consumed world record amounts of rice kripsy treats for which some of us blamed hypoglycaemia.

On Friday I sat on a beach, made a mess of my cleats, ate a passionfruit ice cream and thought about all the things that had to go wrong for me to be in such a wonderful place.  My body gave my pancreas a kicking, but that seemed ok when It got me on cycling team which I though was cool, then they turned out to be anything but and I got fired for caring (and for wearing a pretty awesome T shirt), I lost my visa, my health insurance and my job. But if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have known how it feels to lack the medications you need to stay alive, maybe I wouldn’t speak the languages I do, not just Spanish or French or Catalan but the words that come from stories, from sleeping in your car, from riding 6 hours to keep your blood sugar down, from racing so hard and so much that you fall asleep without taking your helmet off, from living off the cheese you won as a prime for a week and from lying face down in the sand wondering when a bull is going to turn you into a hamburger. Everything happens for a reason and there’s no hardship you can’t learn from. I arrived in Paradise that day via broken bones, countless nights on other people’s sofas and surrogate families in every corner of the world. Sometimes if you’re not forced to rely entirely on the generosity of other people you won’t ever realize just how rewarding it is to give without ever expecting anything in return.

On Sunday I completed my annual running race, as usual I was late, and sub optimally prepared and as usual every step was pretty much purgatory. I think I came 28th, I’m pretty sure I was the first person who high 5’d the volunteers at every aid station and that’s good enough for me. On Sunday I also played with the kids from the foundation for hours, answered countless questions about diabetes, exercise, nutrition and the weather in England. I got up at 5am and went to bed at midnight and it was the most rewarding, fun, tiring, painful and joyous experience I’ve had in a long time.

Above all things I want to say thank you to everyone who supported me. With donations, with kind words, with warm beds and cold water, with the occasional push and the frequent free beers. What we do in the DR, and in Arizona and all over is my way of saying thank you, of taking the incredible kind things people do for me and passing them on to people who need kindness in a way I often do. I know how empowering it is to give and receive without any desire for reciprocity and I hope you can share the pleasure I have enjoyed in the last few weeks.

Stay tuned for more, I have a week of training my arse off in San Diego (I don’t want that TSA bloke to have anything left to grope) then back for a few more weeks in the foundation in the DR. We still welcome your support; people still need your help. Then it’s back to Catalonia and some solid training because I have some big bike racing plans coming up. Oh and Wait until you see what we’ve got lined up in October.  Right now the happy thoughts bank account is receiving deposits and I’ll need all of those to fly when I start to make withdrawals.

No comments:

Post a Comment