They say if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough. Today I signed up for the Rottnest Channel Swim, a 19.7km open water swim to Rottnest island which is off the coast of Perth, Western Australia in February 2017.
The swim will be tough, but it pales into insignificance compared with the complexity of managing my type 1 diabetes throughout both training and the event. To succeed, I must keep my blood glucose levels balanced with insulin injections, frequent testing, and strict dietary management. I must wear a sensor in my arm constantly to measure glucose levels, work out how to waterproof my monitors, count carbohydrates, remember to stash glucose down my togs for long ocean swims, keep food and training diaries, understand my hypoglycaemia symptoms in water, train my paddler and boat crew, and plan, plan, plan.
So it’s a big enough dream then. Phew.
Why am I swimming to Rotto?
- I believe that daily physical activity is a key pillar of diabetes management. Swimming, like any exercise, makes me highly sensitive to insulin. This means smaller error margins, which are critical when calculating doses of a medicine that is so potent it can kill me if I get the dose wrong.
- I like to be challenged. Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew (I have a feeling this could be one of those times). Nutting out the diabetes management strategy for this swim is going to be one of the most challenging things I have ever attempted. But life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so that’s where I’m going.
- I have managed my type 1 with a low carbohydrate approach for many years with great success, and I think I can make a low carbohydrate high healthy fat (LCHF) diet work for marathon swimming. My goals are t0 feel fueled, keep my blood sugar stable, and ideally be in a mild state of ketosis during the swim. And also not to puke from seasickness, find foods I’ll be able to eat with a swollen salty tongue, get fluids and electrolytes right so I don’t cramp, time insulin injections right so I don’t spike or crash, and learn how to inject whilst treading water – no biggie! Oh god.
- As the CEO of the Telethon Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, my ultimate goal is to show our kids who have type 1 that they can live a life without limits. They can swim, ride, race, travel, go to space, climb mountains – dream big scary dreams and nothing, especially not diabetes, can hold them back.
So here I go. Sweet dreams.
Kilometres this week: 15