This week I had one of those days where everything that could possibly go wrong did. I woke up low, super groggy, and super miserable. After eating breakfast, I decided to go back to sleep to start fresh in an hour or so.
But of course, starting fresh is apparently out of the question for someone with diabetes who is just trying to sleep in. I woke up two hours later high and as groggy as ever. I did a correction, assuming that my site was fine since I had been low only hours before. I carried on with my late-morning routine. Threw in a load of laundry, went to class, and came back.
I checked again and, just my luck, I was still high. I decided to change my site, do a new cartridge, and carry on. Usually I’d be extremely frustrated at that point, but I was still on my post–Children With Diabetes (CWD) conference high (pun intended??), so I decided to just stay positive. However, my positive attitude flew out the window when a few hours later, I was still high!
I went to the gym, worked off my frustration, and was sure that this nightmare of a day was over. But the joke was on me. Two hours after my workout, I was the highest I’ve been in at least two years. I absolutely could not believe it. What had I done to deserve such a crummy day of blood sugars? And not only was I upset that my sugars were not cooperating, but as anyone with diabetes knows, after being high for a prolonged period of time, you become especially irritable and physically drained. I felt like I just could not take it anymore.
That’s where the title of this blog post comes into play. Not Dead Yet is a fantastic book written by one of my heroes, mentors, and dare I say it, friends, Phil Southerland. I first met Phil years ago at a CWD conference. I was still new to Type 1, and Phil was one of the first “celebrities” with diabetes that I ever met. (I remember I was also fortunate enough to meet Kris Freeman and Gary Hall, Jr.)
Phil was introduced as the founder of “Team Type 1,” a professional cycling team consisting of people with Type 1 diabetes. Team Type 1 has grown into a much larger project, and I would encourage anyone reading this to check out their Web site. (Editor’s Note: To read more about what it’s like riding for Team Type 1, check out our series of blog posts by professional cyclist Joe Eldridge.)
I am not kidding when I say that Phil is one of my heroes. I remember seeing him at the American Diabetes Association conference in Atlanta a few years back, where one of the booths was conducting A1C checks. I was pretty nervous about getting mine checked, as I was surrounded by a bunch of people that I knew had phenomenal control. Phil (definitely one of these people) convinced me to get mine done with him.
I don’t know how, but he put me at ease about getting it checked. He said that regardless of what the number was, I’d be able to work on it and reach my goal, whatever that may be. Since that day, every time I talk to Phil, he asks about how my A1C is. Not in a judgmental way, but 100% out of genuinely caring to know. It may seem like a simple enough thing to ask, but Phil encounters so many people with Type 1 diabetes in his work, and he manages to make every single one feel truly cared about.
Of all the Type 1 celebrities that I have encountered through the CWD conference, Phil is perhaps the most accomplished, but most humble. And, on top of all his caring and compassion, he keeps his diabetes in ridiculously phenomenal control. It’s amazing. I will never forget how that day when we got our A1Cs done, Phil’s came back at 5.9! Seriously, I’m not kidding: 5.9. It had never occurred to me that someone with diabetes could possibly get their A1C down to the 5’s. Phil is living proof that anything is possible, and living with Type 1 can’t stop you from doing anything.
Last year Phil published his book Not Dead Yet, a personal account of his journey in living with Type 1 diabetes. I got a copy of it last summer at the Friends for Life conference, and started reading it at the airport on our way home. Here’s proof!:
If you don’t already own this book or haven’t yet read it, you have to.
Now, to tie this all together: That day I was writing about at the beginning of this post was the day that I picked up Not Dead Yet and decided to start reading it again. I can’t tell you how much it calmed my nerves and put everything back in perspective. Phil is very candid and honest in his book about all his ups and downs, and it was so great to just sit and read a book about life with Type 1 diabetes! (And how crazy is it that it was written by someone I know?)
That day I tweeted him about reading Not Dead Yet, and lo and behold, he responded by asking if everything was all right and how he could help. It’s not often that you come across someone with such a crazy schedule who manages to ask, “Is everything OK?” Phil is one of those people, and I consider myself very lucky to know him.