Planning for the Trip of a Lifetime
Editor’s Note: I am excited to introduce our guest blogger Mari Ruddy, a long-time Medtronic customer and diabetes advocate, two time breast cancer survivor and endurance athlete. She has had type 1 diabetes for 31 years and is the founder of the Red Rider Program of the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure and the Director of TeamWILD. Today she tells readers about her upcoming trip to India with our Medtronic team. She will be going during Diabetes Awareness Month to increase diabetes awareness and share her personal story about how she has used insulin pump therapy to excel as an athlete.
Ever wonder what it’s like in a place completely different than where you live, work and play? My whole life I’ve been curious about how others live and experience the world. We traveled my whole childhood: with a tent, a cooler, a station wagon and a map of the US park system. I was a Spanish and Latin American Studies major in college, mostly so that I could live in Spain, South America and Mexico.
Yet, international travel when one has the added life challenge of diabetes can be overwhelming. Thus, while I’ve traveled the US freely and done some crossing of the border, my international adventures have been limited. Now it’s time for that to change, and here it is, “I’m going to India!!!!!!” And I’m crazy excited about my trip in November – Diabetes Month! I’m traveling with a team from Medtronic Diabetes!
It’s been a lifelong dream to go to India. After all, I love Indian food, I watch Bollywood movies, I have a regular Vipassana meditation practice, I have dabbled in yoga for years, and I have always been fascinated by contrasts, and India has A LOT of contrasts!
Medtronic Diabetes has made it a priority to bring insulin pump therapy to India. It’s an exciting and big challenge to do this. For eight days, I am going to help them talk to physicians, diabetes educators and people with diabetes who take (or should take) insulin. I have been extremely happy and empowered in my diabetes management by wearing a Medtronic insulin pump for over 18 years.
Diabetes is never fun, but at least there is good and even awesome technology to help manage it until we figure out an actual cure. I’ve been able to do all the fitness and athletic things I do, survive several surgeries with amazing recovery, and generally live a great life, in large part because of my pancreas on a leash that the wizards at Medtronic make. And I am eager to listen and share, and to have a cultural exchange about diabetes.
Since I’m an educator at heart (I was a high school teacher and administrator for much of my career) I did the research and preparation for this trip as I would for any major undertaking. I took care of the expected things: got lots of shots, got lots of backup drugs, applied for my travel visa, checked out 10 travel books about India from the library, got some new shoes, updated my camera, ordered extra diabetes supplies, and most important, started learning about diabetes in India.
It’s bad. There are somewhere around 61 million people in India with diabetes. And maybe many more with pre-diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 are exploding although type 2 is much more common. Okay, so that’s bad enough, but here’s where it gets crazy to my American mind: there are type 1’s dying because they don’t take insulin. Did you have to read that a second time? I did. They HAVE insulin (it’s very inexpensive in India) they just don’t take it. WHAT?????
Put on your cultural sensitivity hat, NOW. Please. Take a deep breath, getting mad or being frustrated doesn’t change the situation. I don’t know all the ins and outs of why this is happening, but I have a few ideas about why, and the Medtronic team has been briefing me, so I’m starting to get the picture, a little bit.
I’m going to go learn more about this phenomenon. And if I can, I’m going to help reframe taking insulin, and if you’re going to take insulin, why not also use an awesome delivery system like the Medtronic insulin pump? I’m going to, by telling my story and being me, encourage the people I meet to shift the way diabetes and people with diabetes are seen.
I am not so foolish to think I can change something so huge in 8 days, or by myself. But I can say, I do know that the world is changed by those of us who show up and who take action. And change happens when like-minded people from everywhere band together under the international flag of love, health, connection and joy. That’s the flag I’m going to be waving.
I leave for India on November 18th. I will blog while I’m there from the TeamWILDAthletics.com website, if you want to follow along. I will also do a post-trip reflection piece here on the Medtronic blog upon my return.
As they say in India upon greeting and departing one another, Namaste. Namaste means: the goodness in me touches and sees the goodness in you.
Once again, Namaste.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.
Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.
Please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/about/safety.html for complete safety information.