Sept. 5, 2022
I tend to avoid my birthdays by escaping into nature for a period of self-reflection and orienting to nature. Last year, I went into the woods of Vancouver Island to camp near Pye Lake. This year, I followed the logging roads to the west of the highway and found a waterside six-site campground on Campbell Lake. It’s one of a number of wilderness campsites run by the provincial government. Rustic (pit toilets), a bit hard to get to (jarring rides on logging roads) but beautiful settings and relatively private. In my mind, well worth the extra effort.
Last year, I wrote a Facebook post about how I spent time watching the clouds and seemingly random thoughts rolled through my head. I thought briefly about the past, and about my mother. I wasn’t upset or angry, at least not on the surface. Then my glucose monitor rang, saying my glucose was in a “rapid rise,” creating a spike. I was drinking black coffee. I hadn’t eaten anything to cause the spike — it was emotional. I thought back to the realization that Mom created a divisive culture in the family, she encouraged her three children to relate only to her and not to each other. So we grew up apart. And later in life, Mom blamed us for not getting along. We don’t know each other at all, and it’s a source of consternation for me.
That’s what made the glucose spike.
So this year, I was intent on total relaxation. I found a spot on Campbell lake where my tent site had its own beach. I lolled in an inner tube that had its own headrest — how cool is that? The unseasonably warm temperature was perfect for closing the eyes and letting go of all worries.
I’d brought along a couple books to read, both about badass women doing amazing things. (The Ride of her Life by Elizabeth Letts and Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak by Victoria Jackson) As it turned out, both women had serious health issues and defied doctors’ orders to realize their dreams. One woman, who in the 1950s, rode her horse from Maine to California, had serious lung issues. She was given a couple years to live. On the way across the country, she met a woman diagnosed with a terminal illness. She told the woman “Don’t give up — doctors don’t know everything. With all respect to doctors, most don’t know what’s foreordained and what isn’t.”
She went on to live to a ripe old age.
Jackson paddled Northwest Passage by kayak, in sections, despite having survived a couple strokes, edema and bleeding ulcers. She put her dream to explore the North in spite of cautionary advice of medical professionals that her health was at risk. Guess what? Jackson survived several excursions to the North where she paddled the Northwest Passage a chunk at a time. She learned the limits of her exertion, and when to take a break.
So here I float in the lake, defying doctors’ orders to take an insulin that will make me fat. I already am dealing with 20 lbs extra that came on quickly (1 lb a day) after advice from an endocrinologist. I quit the long-term insulin and now just use short-term stuff which isn’t as bad. It means my glucose levels aren’t great, but I know what’s best for me. I’ve let insulin get me fat before, and the results aren’t good. It’s weird that I seem healthier (over 20 years) riding high in the glucose numbers than I am when I take the “medicine” prescribed by doctors.
Back to me lolling on the lake. I was recalling the idea that doctors don’t know everything. It’s reassuring to hear another voice in the wilderness confirming what I suspect.
And then my phone on shore blares a rapid-rise alarm. My glucose is rocketing up. It may not sound like much but having my blood sugar rise by 5.5 mmols over 20 minutes is considered a spike. Food was not involved. I was just laying there on an inner tube. Same damned day — my birthday — as last year, and I get the same glucose “rapid rise” alarm.
I believe that we get messages from outside our sphere. And the messages I get confirm that I’m on the right path, as lonely a journey as it may be.