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I see the swell rising towards me. My instructor, Ed Guzman, says, "Catch this one!" I turn the surfboard towards the distant beach. "Get down and start paddling!" yells Ed. Stroking forward, I feel the swell of the wave begin to lift and propel my ten-foot surfboard. "Stand up and ride it!" Ed says with a big smile. In one smooth (well, somewhat smooth) action, I go from prone position to standing on my board as it begins to accelerate. I'm surfing! I feel a sense of euphoria and complete relaxation at the same time. This is the beginning of a series of surfing lessons from "Club Ed" in Santa Cruz, California.
Surfing is a very strenuous sport that requires stamina, shoulder strength and the desire to get close to nature. Riding waves is a path to natural euphoria. There are no tow lines or boats to take you out into the surfing lane. You and the waves are the only power source. Perhaps this is why there is such a feeling of one-ness with the ocean for the surfer. This is the joy of surfing.
My insulin doses on surfing days are dependent upon how long I will be in the water and how hard I will be exerting myself. On an average surfing day I take 7-10 units of Regular in the morning, two units of Lispro at lunch (if I'm going out in the water), followed by approximately eight units of Lispro at dinner. I prefer to use Lispro because it usually clears from my system faster than Regular. I then usually take about 14 units of Ultralente at bedtime. These are only average doses, and every person's insulin requirements are different.
When surfing, I always test on the beach prior to going out into the water. After 45 minutes of active paddling and surfing, I do a blood test back on shore, usually eat a carbohydrate snack, and then surf for another 20 to 30 minutes.
I always make it a habit to surf with a partner. My wife, Debbie, has taken up surfing with me, so we try to surf together. Occasionally, if she's working, I go out with a friend who understands my condition. For emergencies, I carry tubes of glucose tablets in a neoprene waist pack. I put the tubes in sealed waterproof plastic bags to help keep them dry. As of yet, I have had no leakage problems and no low blood sugars.
Diabetes can be a real pain in the rear, as well as the arm, leg, or stomach (if you inject insulin). But by keeping your motivation up and a positive attitude, as well as monitoring yourself regularly and maintaining a healthy diet, you can continue to experience the joys of life. And for some of you, climbing on a surfboard and riding a wave may add to that joy.
If you read this article and say to yourself, "Hey, that sounds like something I'd like to try!" then I've accomplished my task. If you would like to exchange information about this further, please give me a call. Note: it's advisable to be in good athletic condition and inform your personal physician of your interest prior to starting surfing.
Response to my recent article in DIABETES HEALTH (We are the Lucky People in the Nov/Dec issue) on the need for insulin in third-world countries has been very positive. One hundred thirty-eight vials of insulin have been donated by DIABETES HEALTH readers so far! These donations are being sent to the International Diabetes Institute in Australia. The Institute sends the insulin to areas where it is most needed. Diabetics in countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania and the Philippines have been given a chance, with our help, to live with this disease, a killer when insulin is unobtainable. If at all possible, please continue to respond to this cause. If you are interested in donating, please contact me at (408) 479-7837, or write me at: 3470 Crestline Way, Soquel, CA 95073.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.