Came across this the other day and liked it. This was a college write up I had to do 2 or 3 years ago on my way to getting my first degree in Professional Writing. It had to be 2000 words give or take, a short-story with a twist ending. This is all fictional writing based on true experiences to some extent but very much concerning diabetes. I’d like to say that my character in real life is not the character in this story even though I keep my name!
Enjoy the work of a young genius…
The Diabetic Dialogue
It was within the first two weeks I came to terms with it all. I learned everything I needed to learn. I understood it. The details of being ‘hyper’ and being ‘hypo’– as the pancreas no longer creates insulin to balance out sugar-levels in the blood system the body will either run high with glucose, or become drained from the natural energy-substance; the term hypo being the latter. This can usually occur after exercise, or perhaps from a miscalculation when injecting insulin into the blood system. When one is ‘hyper’ that means the blood sugar levels are running hi, too much un-controlled glucose. I learned all the basics within the first two weeks, and I continued learning as I lived on as one, I became the condition to an extent. I became a type-one diabetic… and it became me.
“Mr Griffiths?” the middle-aged nurse came out and said whilst I sat at the table of my diabetes clinic, reading the charity magazines on the tables.
I put the magazine down for a second and looked over towards the front desk of the diabetes clinic, I didn’t say anything, didn’t have to, just gave the look…
“If you’d like to come through with me please,” she put her hand out towards the door, a short woman with short hair – reminded me of one of those bad creatures from that Lord of the Rings film I saw a long time ago, nothing against the woman, sure she was nice on the inside… just nothing to look at on the outside; certainly wasn’t going to get my blood-levels racing for my check up.
I went through the doors that she guided her hands towards; she followed me in and pointed at the chair.
“If you’d like to take a seat Gavin,” she again instructed.
Looking about the room there were paintings over the walls, cartoon paintings of Disney characters; there was Dumbo, Mickey and Pooh – not to mention Eeyor the one taking care of me.
“I hear you’re new at this clinic then, recently moved this way?” She asked as if it was anything to do with her life.
“Yeah,” I responded looking up at her after looking at the paintings on the wall and again pondering if I was speaking with one of the characters from the wall paintings – maybe Tweedle-Dee, “just transferred to this clinic now.”
“How are you finding life here then? – where have you moved from?” She waffled on as if my life was her main interest.
“…I’ve got to be heading out soon I’m in a bit of a rush nurse, can we get it all out the way please?”
The nurse measured and weighed me as well as checked my long-term blood HBA1C level: 5ft 8 inches in height, 70 kg’s in weight and, as the Doc later confirmed, 6.5 on my HBA1C – my overall control as good as though I weren’t even a diabetic.
The plan had been on my mind a while, it was the reason I was reading those diabetes magazines whilst waiting for my check-up, it was the plan of a life-time. I could do it. Many people would follow me doing it, support me in doing it – pay their money to sponsor me to do it.
The magazines were charity magazines: Diabetes UK; JDRF to name a few. Raising money for diabetes care. One matter always struck me about these charities: they employ people. How do they afford to pay their employees? – do the government pay it through taxes? – No surely not, a thought strikes through the mind of David Cameron waffling on about the importance of cuts during the morning news. So where does the money come from? – The people? No. Yes. The sponsor money. People pay for the cause, an amount goes to the cause, and the rest must go on wages. Cure? No – wages, yes. One thing was noticeable in those magazines, nothing really stood out. Nothing extreme came out the papers to pull someone in with amazement, did it? – it talked about a few half celebrities having a tea party and a group dinner and ball… all about fighting diabetes – but where was the fight? I failed to see it on those pages.
It’s a long race around a 400 metre track – 12.5 laps round – 5000 metres. The track is longer than it appears; at least it feels it whilst you run. Those who take off early pay the price, I know it, I watch it, I take advantage of it. The same consistent pace is needed; the same consistent pace is used; the same consistent pace that can be upped a notch at the end wins. At the back of a pack of twelve runners to start with, in the bottom three at the end of the second lap, bottom four by the end of the third – but it’s the same pace, others change. I could go on for miles and miles using the same pace, others can’t. They slow. I keep the pressure on. Lap 5: position 6th; Lap 6: position 5th – a perfect place to stay for a while, breathing on the backs of the front pack to watch them drain out of energy. Lap 9 is a pounce up into the top 4 whilst the other runner drops out of the pack. Come lap 10 my pace increases, it could have stayed the same for hours, but it’s a race, it increases, my position in the race increases as others tire. By the end of lap 11 I’m on 2nd places tale and he knows it, he ups his pace with whatever he has left but there’s another lap and a half to go for him and his burned out of energy, I can feel it. Lap 12 is where I up the pace further more. The leader looks back over his shoulder, sweat drips from his brow, he begins to push it harder like the previous 2nd place runner did, that runner is now being caught by 4th and 5th place a good number of metres behind. The final half lap is where I win. My running coach on the side line knows it. The runner currently in the lead knows it. And what counts the most: I know it. When everyone else is drained from energy I pick mine up, as though I’ve sucked all the energy out of them. And then… the ultimate sprint finish.
“Great running Gav!” my coach shouts out, applauding his hands as I finish.
Coach turns to the others watching on, looking to Roger who owns the Athletics club.
“He’s a strong runner,” says Roger.
“Yeah he’s like a machine; just don’t make him sprint any longer than that!” coach replies.
I warm down in front of them, drinking my bottle of water. Roger calls me over…
“Gavin, you should try something bigger than track running, you’re a long-distance runner like I used to be,” he says, “before you began sprinting at the end there, how long did you feel you could have gone on for exactly?”
“Until I win,” was my response.
“You’re a marathon runner like I once was, and you’ve got the ability to succeed.”
Getting noticed by Roger is a confidence boost. He is the one who the big-fish come to in checking out talent, some say he was exceptionally quick in his time at running single miles alone. My talent is that I can run all day long. Not sure if that’s a talent, a gift or if there is something wrong with me. But, it fits into my plan.
I knew in my mind I had put myself in for a tough challenge, that was obvious; I knew it even more on the ferry over to the Isle. Approaching the giant blob of land rising out of the sea, the left side curved almost out of sight, the right side from the angle I looked from was out of sight. I was going to run that. It was crazy. It was genius.
The local news press came down to see me start and snap a few photographs for the local papers. I posed in my Diabetes UK running vest and Nike brand running shorts and trainers. The weather was foggy. Cold and foggy. Not the expected forecast for a summers day. I posed almost as though I was some kind of hero, a little smile into the cameras, one shot with my fists clenched. A crowd gathered around to see me off, mainly old people with nothing better to do but to jump on a random coach and go somewhere random for the day. They were my biggest fans. Then once the groupies had finished telling me to “take it easy around the Isle” and offering me sandwiches and biscuits, once the photographer had had enough of taking shots of me warm up along the pier, I was off.
I ran at my calm pace. A strong pace, yet not one to push the motor too hard – 3rd gear pace. I could go on in third all day without running out of petrol. Fourth would still be comfortable. I ran clockwise beside the sea, following the ‘coastal route’ signs, the fog stayed low, the sea stayed by my side – offering a hard windy chill to blow against me, the seagulls remained hovering above me. The hills continued to incline. Up, up, up, down, and then up again… like one big upward hill. On my back I carried a black bag with white writing boldly across it: ‘Sponsor Me’. Every now and then I’d stop to stretch and talk up a few locals who looked on…
“What are ye doing here then?” some asked, in this case an old local island man with white hair and an ‘uncle Albert’ style white beard.
“I’m running,” the logic answer.
“What ye running for then?”
“…Diabetes. I’m going around the Isle.”
“Round thee Isle, cor I never, good cause that – tell ye what,” he searches his dusty pockets, a few screwed up tissues fall out first, then a screwed up five pound note. He puts it in my hand.
“There be some sponsorship for ye, good luck son,” he tells me. I put the money in the bag on my back and then it’s back to the road.
It is dangerous at times, when away from the sea country lanes appear, I can’t see anything around the corner, they can’t see me. My pace eases up a little and I drift into the middle of the road, wave my hands out if I’m unsure, and then pick up the pace again.
Occasionally there is the odd field to run across, avoiding the cows and bulls along the way. Sheep sometimes scramble away from me. I carry my energy drinks on me, one in my hand a couple more in the back-bag. The stretch stops are always in the more public areas, the towns on the seaside are the main places where the change fills up in my bag.
I come to a dead end along the way. The road signs aren’t great on this upward Isle, in fact they are all but non-existent, the coastal path signs come and go, they don’t mention anything about a steep dropping crevasse interfering with the route or rock climbing. I had a decision to make… go all the way back and try to find another route (could be miles) or climb, climb, stare down the rocky steep drop into the sea, take a run up and jump, hold on for dear life, climb down and run on. I opted for the later.
Day one I had covered 35 miles. I had raised a fair amount of wads in the back-bag, stopping at a café with a few parked-up coaches was a help. Day two, after an iced-bath followed up by a hot one immediately after at the campsite the night before, I was nearly there, running with a hard ache down the legs, battling with the stiffness, but running nonetheless. The finish was in sight. It was a mighty pull to get that far, each step begun to ache, and for a moment was on the rocks. It was as though I had driven into the dreaded runner’s wall at 100 miles per hour. I couldn’t do it. I could do it. A glimpse was all I needed of the finish line, hills no longer mattered, the power flooded back, the pace picked up, the gear cranked up to 5th, and I sprinted across the finish point.
And then home.
After packing up my tent and belongings at the campsite, and suffering another iced bath, off to home…
Collecting more money on the Ferry…
Or away again?
A bag with well over a grand’s worth of money inside it… Away it is! I pick up the home phone…
…“Hello, yep, I would like to book on the offer I saw on your website, yep that’s it, the year around the world ticket please. Erm… no I have no medical conditions… My name? It’s Chris, Chris Brasher.”