A Note From Kim: Riding For a Cure

This entry was posted in d-Tales, Inspiration and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Kim Southwick rides for a cure all around the country. Keep up with her on the Joslin Blog!


I’m a little late in getting this recap note out, but I’m very happy to say that WE DID IT!  Ted and I finished our first century of 2013 on March 17 in Orlando, Florida.  We had a great ride with perfect conditions, no hills and a speedy pace (for the first 50 miles that is)!  We rode together the entire time, picking up Pat, a solo rider at about mile 55. We saw a spectacular sunrise, smelled the perfumed scent of the orange blossoms and even caught a quick glimpse of a gator around mile 80!

My numbers were in great range, allowing me to slowly back off my insulin requirements until I was pedaling without it!  Unfortunately, best laid plans sometimes go awry, and mine was no exception.  At some point in the ride, my insulin pump restarted (I hadn’t set the time for long enough and didn’t realize the insulin was flowing again until it was too late).  By mile 90, with the insulin flowing freely and the exercise reaching its peak, I tanked.  We were pushing into a headwind when I finally said I needed to stop.  A test later and I was at 56!  I wouldn’t get on my bike to ride to work at that number, so you can imagine what I was feeling to see that NINETY MILES into the ride!

Ted saved the day by getting me a Coke and we spent 30 mins on the side of the road nursing my blood sugar higher (90’s was as high as I could get it).  Another 10 miles of headwinds and we rolled across that finish, just before 3:00 pm that afternoon.  We averaged about 20 mph for the first 50 miles (thank you random teams who let us ride in your slipstream!) and about 16 mph overall.  For a March century, neither one of us is complaining!!

This year of riding is dedicated to the memory of my Mom whom I lost in December last year.  She was a champion of the mission all diabetes organizations hold, that of a cure and education about this disease.  It’s been difficult for me to sit down and write about my disease since she left.

As we readied ourselves to board our flight home, I wondered what I would say about this ride since words weren’t coming to me easily.  My answer came at 10,000 feet when I overheard the steward telling the pilot there was a diabetic on board who had taken 17 units of insulin that morning and not eaten anything after doing so.  As he spoke to the captain, I did some calculations.  17 units is a lot.  If he’d taken it before breakfast, he’d likely taken it around 3:00 am based on the time we all had to arrive at the airport for the flight.  It was about 7:30 when I heard the steward.  There’s no doubt the other passenger was in trouble so being the nosy body I am when it comes to this disease, I piped in and told the steward I was type 1 and would be happy to help if he needed it.  He quickly brought me back to Bill, who was a heavy set, older man, firmly seated in the window seat about halfway into the plane.  He was sweating profusely and was slipping in and out of coherent speech.  He was ignoring his juice and had his eyes closed.  His wife was in the aisle seat and the woman between them was the unlucky passenger sandwiched in the drama.  She gladly moved so I could take her seat to help.  The look on her face said volumes!

As I sat down, Bill’s wife told me he’d taken 17 units of insulin and not eaten. When I asked what kind of insulin he’d taken, neither could tell me, but it was offered that he’d only been on insulin for a few days and that he was type 2.  Insulin is some very powerful medicine and these two were not able to give me any kind of information about it.  Their doctor had failed as far as I was concerned.  When I asked for his meter so we could test his blood sugar levels, I was told it was in the cargo hold of the plane in their luggage.  I offered to test on mine and both she and Bill said OK.

We got a “HIGH” reading (so much for my numbers!).  Deciding there was residual peanut butter cracker on Bill’s fingers, we tested again.  This one produced 147, which to me is high, but to Bill, it clearly wasn’t given his symptoms and how he was acting.  When I asked what Bill’s target range of blood glucose was, neither knew.  (Ugh.)  Next question about all their supplies, and I got silence.  Then his wife meekly offered everything was in their luggage. (Good grief.)

Cut to the end.  Bill came around with some prodding on my part and fast acting sugar in the form of a Coke.  His wife asked me several questions and I offered as much advice as I could in our short time together.  First nugget I said:  Never, ever, ever get separated from your supplies.  There are exceptions at TSA for diabetics.  We CAN bring a can of soda and food on board.  We CAN have needles and vials of drugs.  We CAN pre-board a flight so we’re closer to the front of the plane and help from the staff.

Bill and his wife knew none of this.  They didn’t know the difference between long and short lasting insulin.  They didn’t know Bill’s target range and they clearly didn’t understand the power of insulin.  They understood a lot more after our conversation, but I suggested a follow up appointment with their doctor nonetheless.  The EMT’s met our plane and attended to Bill some more and my family and I headed off to our next flight and posts about the experience on Facebook.

Diabetes is a tricky beast.  You can control it and live a full and good life with it, but you must understand the disease before control happens.  Understanding only comes from education and experience.  Leaving the plane after meeting Bill and his wife, I realized again why I ride.  I ride so that the organizations I ride for can continue to educate and help those that are living with this disease, and their families.  I learned a lot from the ADA and the JDRF in the beginning months of living with this disease, but that knowledge never would have been available if people like you and I didn’t donate their time and money to help.

Ted and I are gearing up for our next century, the North Shore of MA in May, but I’m beginning to focus my fundraising efforts on Death Valley now, as that ride will always be the apple of my eye and my fundraising goal is a lofty one of $4,000.

Please, join me in the fight to cure this disease and educate people about it.  A donation towards my Death Valley ride will be used by the JDRF to do both. They are on forefront of research for a cure and are offering more and more programs to educate about this disease, using $0.85 of every dollar towards their mission.  Please make a generous donation to my ride if you are able!  The link is below and thank you!!

As always, I hope this note finds you enjoying the Spring days we’re being offered, and of course, I hope this finds you enjoying your ride!!

My best,

….( )/ ( )  http://www2.jdrf.org/goto/kimsride

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *