So here’s the deal: I seldom use this forum to get up on a soapbox, preferring to speak softly and carry my big stick for real life, face-to-face encounters with students. And regardless of how big a sarcastic smart ass I might seem to be, I actually do believe that individuals can make a difference. I think that in our hearts we see the importance of doing the right thing.
Truthfully, I seldom participate in charity rides – and when I do, it’s mostly because it sounds like a fun outing. (I mean, after all what prepubescent, yet aging, dude wouldn’t want to ride something called the Tour de Brew or the Tour de Stooges?) And while I’m being honest, I might as well admit that I was originally coerced into participating in a little ride last year called the Tour de Cure, an event set up to help in the fight against Diabetes.
It’s not that I have anything against Diabetics, which would be oddly self-defeating since I am, myself, a Diabetic. It’s just that there seems to be a never-ending stream of co-workers and students and people I’ve never, ever met except through cold calls and emails, who are all asking for donations and support for their cause. And quite frankly, I hate asking my friends and colleagues for money.
I’m embarrassed to do so. And so I promised myself – and by extension, also promised my friends and colleagues – that I’d put the touch on them only once each year… and that I’d only ask for five bucks. Times being what they are – and by that I mean ridiculous unemployment statistics, the continued economic stagnation, etc. – it’s really tough to ask for even that much. But I am doing so.
Diabetes, for some of us (and I count myself in this group), is a stupid disease. It’s stupid because, for many of us, it’s preventable. At one point in my career, I succumbed to the concept that “success” meant long hours, thriving on stress, eating crap on the fly, and essentially becoming an inert carbon mass. Stupid. And I paid the price for that when my doctor, Mitzi, let me know I had Diabetes.
“This is very serious, Mark,” she told me. “People die.”
And thank goodness Mitzi scared the living hell out of me, while also helping me to become educated about my disease, my condition, my potential outcomes, and my options. The only thing I knew about Diabetes at the time of my diagnosis was that the black dude in the movie ConAir had it, that missing his insulin shots put him into a great deal of perspiration and pain, and that he only had hours (cue the dramatic background music) until he would die a painful death without those shots. Holy shit! Really? This is what I had to look forward to???
Well, actually no. That representation of Diabetes, like most movie representations, is pretty much pure tripe. But my blood sugar readings really were dangerously high and I was put on a daily dose of insulin. I spent about three months of my life completely alarmed – shell shocked. I didn’t want to die. Then I moped around alternately feeling sorry for myself, and then kicking myself for having brought this damn thing on by poor lifestyle choices. But eventually, I came around to the conclusion that I’d never allowed any other circumstance to beat me, so why this?
Through rigid exercise and diet, I managed to get off of insulin entirely within twelve months (something my doctor told me just never happens.) I bought myself a skull ring to remind me that life is short, and that we only get this one shot at it. It also reminds me when I get whiney about regular, sweat-provoking exercise, that the alternative might very well be a quick and abrupt end to my whining. And also, because a skull ring is just totally bad ass, don’t you agree?
I’m very fortunate that I’m able to successfully manage my Diabetes in this manner.
But – and there is always a “but,” isn’t there? – not everyone is as fortunate as I have been. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert food into energy. There are over 26 million Americans living with diabetes – and the number is growing. If current trends continue, one out of three children will face a future with diabetes. That is just scary as hell.
By making a donation on my behalf, you will be helping the American Diabetes Association change the future of diabetes by providing community-based education programs, protect the rights of people with diabetes and fund critical research for a cure. And all I’m asking for is five bucks.
If you can support this cause, please visit my personal Tour de Cure page.