Today, a friend I had met at the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes asked to speak about me in an address she is giving and requested a photo of me in my cape from the ride. While looking for a photo I stumbled across an interview I had done shortly after the ride for a young girl with T1D who puts together a magazine to inspire other girls with type 1.
Rereading the article reminded me why the Ride to Cure Diabetes program is so amazing... Not only are you funding research to find a cure, but you inspire others and even more, you inspire yourself.
Please help me find a cure and continue to achieve things I never thought possible! Below is the interview...
How old were you when you were diagnosed? How old are you now?
I was diagnosed at the age of 14 when I was a freshman in High School. I’m now 24, and I work for JDRF. :)
What did you have to do to train for the ride? That is a LOT of miles!!
Oh,a lot of miles went into training! I started off slow with 12 mile rides and slowly worked my distance up. I was SO SORE after my first 50 mile ride. But my next fifty miles felt awesome. That was very encouraging and I just kept going! :) The longest ride I had done before the Ride for the Cure was a little over 60. I did 20-30 miles pretty much every week night after work and would do a long ride of 50ish miles on the weekend. I put in over 400 training miles, but I was still nervous about the 100.
Did you wear your cape for the whole ride? I love it!
I did wear it for the whole 101.7 miles I rode that day! My 9 year old T1D friend Grace made it for me. I thought I would only wear it for the first 5 or so miles and put it back on near the finish, but it made me feel invincible and I never took it off!
Did you ride on a team with your friends or just on your own?
I rode with some of my friends on the team for part of the ride, I made new friends and rode with them for a while, and I rode on my own. I rode a lot with my coach so he could keep an eye on me and my blood sugars.
How did you check your blood sugar while riding?
There were break points every 12-15 miles where I would stop to check my blood sugar and eat about 30 carbs. I pulled over and stopped between check points to test sometimes, too.
Did you ever think that you wouldn't be able to finish the race? If so, what made you keep going?
Yes,just after hitting the 15 mile mark my pump site failed from an occlusion(first time that’s ever happened!). I nearly cried when it did because I was afraid they wouldn’t let me finish. There were about 12 more miles to the next break point and during that time I became more and more determined that I wouldn’t let my pump failure stop me from doing the ride. When I made it to the break point I found the medics to let them know my pump wasn’t working and we sort of developed a plan for how I would deal with it. It involved a lot of… well, we’ll just see how things go and play it by ear. I also ended up testing between break points as well as at each breakpoint just so we could keep a closer eye on it. There was one rider in particular who helped me a lot with deciding what to do. We conferred at each breakpoint, talked through my sugar levels, what I had eaten, how I was feeling, and decided what to do. My sugars stayed around 240 the whole ride. I ate about 30 carbs at every break point without giving myself any insulin. With about 24 miles left my I gave myself 1 unit because even though my blood sugars were stable because of the exercise, we were afraid I was developing ketones. At that point I wasn’t allowed to ride without a coach just in case I went low. Our Eastern Iowa coach, Tim, happened to be at the rest point where that was decided so he stepped up to ride with me the rest of the route. I was at 300 (highest I had been all ride) at the last break point 12 miles out and gave another unit there. I crossed the finish line with the biggest smile on my face and with my mom, friends, and medics waiting at the end to give me a big hug and check my sugars. I finished at 160. :)
Anytime I wanted to give up I thought about my friend Grace, who made me the cape, and it helped me to keep going. I wanted make her proud and finish the whole 100 miles. I also wanted to show her and prove it to myself that even though I have Type 1 Diabetes I will not let it hold me back from accomplishing what I set out to do and she shouldn’t either.
What advice would you give to girls like me who are growing up with type 1 diabetes?
Don’t let T1D define who you are. I’m not Kari the diabetic; I’m Kari who loves elephants, bikes in her free time, enjoys cooking, singing, and being goofy and I happen to also be a Type 1 Diabetic. There will be times when you hate T1D and you feel like its holding you back but it’s just making you stronger. Use that strength you gain from T1D to achieve everything you can dream of! :)
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