Climbing Mountains With Type 1 Diabetes

This Sunday I had the pleasure of joining a team of 30 people, made up of families and children with diabetes to climb Pen-y-Fan, a mountain in Wales. Whilst summiting the mountain was a feat in itself, we know as people with diabetes that sometimes there are more mountains for us to climb than just the hilly kind. But that this shouldn’t be a reason not to set off in pursuit of our goals, and this was really the importance of the day, firstly to show that physical activity is possible when done safely, with type 1 diabetes. But also to highlight how resilient people with the condition can be.

We set out mid-morning to climb the mountain and met as a group at the foot of Pen-y-Fan so we could chat and people could get to know each other. The event was organised by my friend and fellow type 1 Paul, with support from Diabetes UK Cymru and the Children and Young Adults Paediatric Network. We were also fortunate enough to have mountain leaders with us, to ensure we reached the summit safely. People had travelled from all around South Wales to get to the event and some also as far afield as East England to be there. Whilst the day was all about children with diabetes, there were also a few of us adults with type 1, including four of us who had been involved in the Swansea Half Marathon running World Record Attempt, as pictured above and with over 150 years of living with diabetes experience between us.

As we made our way up the mountain, we stopped every half an hour to have a blood glucose check and were all carrying additional supplies of food and hypo treatments just in case. The stops of course were primarily for safety, but were also a great opportunity to get discussions going about living with type 1 and for the children to talk about their diabetes. Many of us prepared for summiting the mountain in different ways, highlighting how variable and personal diabetes treatment is. But for me, this was the best part of the walk, getting to hear different type 1 tales about diagnosis and the journey that people were on with their diabetes. Also the smiles when we got to the top of the mountain and the break-out conversations that the young people had with each other, beginning to form their own T1 communities, which could prove pivotal in the future. I remember going on days out like this when I was in paediatric diabetes clinic and am still friends with some of the people I met there, nearly 20 years later, which I think is a testament to the value of peer support in the diabetes community.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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