Despite having lived in Southern California my whole life, there are a few things holding me back from being a real Californian. For example, I’ve never been to Mexico, and I’ve never been to Los Vegas.
But, as of this weekend, I am one step closer to being a true resident of the Golden State– I went surfing!
Well, let me clarify: I attempted to go surfing. What I actually did was more like paddle and fight to get past the waves, and then ride my surfboard like a boogie board for a bit before getting pummeled and swallowing some seawater. But, hey! Once or twice I got my feet up on the board, and, even if I never actually stood, I think that’s pretty good for my first time out!
To make things even better, my blood sugar behaved the whole time. I ate a nutrition bar before, and after an hour was 74, ate some more, went back in, and was 127 when it was all over. I started heading up at that point after two hours with no insulin pump, but not too quickly, so I was able to slowly bolus my way back into range.
I must admit there were several moments of fear: the initial point when I was putting the wetsuit on and I realized I couldn’t get it any more on without disconnecting my pump. Off the pump came, and there was a second of panic as I zipped up– I’m insulin-less! That passed, though, with a bit of self-pacifying (“You will be fine; God will protect you, and getting high won’t kill you!”), and then there was the fear of, “Oh, wow, the waves just keep on coming, one after the other, don’t they?” Then there was the first time I lost hold of the board, and, whipped around underwater, felt the force of it tugging at my ankle while I scrambled to find up and air again. But, hey, that passed too, and I was okay!
Exhilarating! But, even so, the surfing was not the coolest part. You see, the invitation, board, wetsuit, and patient help came from the great people at InsulinDependence, a San Diego-based but nationally-operational organization dedicated to helping and training diabetic athletes. They put together and support groups of runners, triathletes, and, in this case, wannabe surfers like me.
In other words, I was with a bunch of diabetics, going surfing. It was pretty cool– not only the sense of, “Well, they understand,” when I begin to worry what the Continuous Glucose Monitor (and its awful tape cover) look like in between my bikini halves, but also the reassurance that it was possible to be both pump-bound and a surfer. Plus, they were all fun people, doing fun things, which, diabetic or not, means its fun to be there.
So I more-or-less went surfing, and lived to tell the tale. I can certainly see why people enjoy it though, and hopefully next time I can get a little closer to getting up on the board.
(A special thanks to everyone at InsulinDependence, especially those of you who patiently guided me through the waves and saved me from the riptides!)
Play us out, Rivers!