Michael Shelver and Patrick Merts are fond of adventure and climbing. But their backs are not working. So how does Type One Sugar affect their dream of climbing all the high peaks in 50 states of the United States in 50 days?
When you are climbing a mountain and your sugar level is low which can cause dizziness or anesthesia, this is not a risk.
This is a situation that Michael and Patrick, who suffer from diabetes, face daily, but they are still confident that they will reach the top 50 states in 50 days.
‘The first lesson is that diabetes is not a disease’
Are sweet things really harmful to you?
What is diabetes and how can you prevent it?
In his mission he has to travel 16000 miles, which includes hiking 315 miles.
Type 1 diabetes does not produce insulin in their body. It is a hormone that helps cells extract and consume glucose from food. Without it, your cells don’t have energy and over time your body’s levels of glucose increase to an alarming rate.
If you have type 1 diabetes then you can inject it traditionally through the vaccines or with the help of an insulin pump. That’s what Patrick and Michael do.
Too little or too much insulin can cause problems. This balance is also worsened by several other factors that can affect blood glucose, such as exercise, elevation or unnecessary stress.
Patrick and Michael start off on a difficult journey.
He heads the highest 20310 feet, or 6190 meters high, at the Denali location in Alaska, North America. Their journey was full of many qualms for them, including high and low blood sugar.
A sugar testing tool capable of changing lives
‘Diabetes symptoms appear years before the disease’
‘The Hardest Thing in Life’
Patrick has been suffering from diabetes since 1997 when he was only nine years old, saying that he had faced the most difficult situation at the height of Denali so far. We made this trip very quickly. Usually, most people take up to 17 days to reach the altitude, whereas we only completed it in nine days.
This trip affected my blood sugar and lungs. I am not a very emotional person but going to the top of Denali was the most difficult experience of my life. It was very important for Michael to have this success.
Another situation that could have been related was that insulin could not survive in severe weather.
Michael, who was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10 in 2004, says: “We made sure that our insulin got a moderate temperature, as well as the effect.
Upon arriving at Denali’s place, we used to put insulin inside a bag and then take it to bed. The temperature dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius and it was, on average, 32 degrees Celsius for us at the summit.
To protect insulin from the cold, we also wore several layers of it inside our jackets so that it could not freeze. We did not release insulin because it freezes too quickly. Freezing insulin means the effect is gone and in this case, blood sugar levels can rise to a dangerous extent.
Even in remote areas, we made sure we had enough insulin. Even if something needed to change we weren’t too far from the pharmacy. We couldn’t stay away.
What is diabetes?
Millions of people in the world suffer from diabetes like diabetes. The majority of them – 95% – have type 2 diabetes, which means their body is not consuming enough insulin. Insulin is essential for glucose uptake and is produced when carbohydrates break down in the body.
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled through diet, exercise and the use of medications. Occasionally the use of insulin is required. Certain Type 2 victims are at high risk, including African, Latin, Native American, Asian, and older people living in the United States.
Type one is an autoimmune disease in which the body cannot produce insulin at all, so the body has to inject insulin. It does not discount a person of any color, race or size. The disease can happen to anyone. This is sometimes called early-onset diabetes, but this is not true. The disease can be diagnosed at any age.
About 1.25 million Americans suffer from Type 1 diabetes. An estimated 400,000 new people are diagnosed with the disease every year.
Patrick and Michael have been friends since 2015 and are affiliated with a charity that works on Type One patients and provides support to the families of those affected.
He created a plan last year that aims to raise such people on a platform and raise funds for a charity to help Type 1 patients with fun.
Patrick says: “We are very fond of tourism. Last year I was hiking on the June Moyer Trail and then told Michael about it. I want to take most patients with type 1 diabetes to a major adventure. ‘
‘It’s a great feeling to have someone with you who is familiar with blood glucose fluctuations. There is no one else with whom I would like to do such an adventure. ‘
They spend a lot of time figuring out which technology they should use to continuously monitor the glucose system, and they all appear in the form of continuous readings on your phone or a small device. Instead of the old method in which blood glucose readings are detected by a finger-cut method.
Their insulin pumps also include the use of technology that can block insulin supply when blood glucose levels are too low.
They both planned to complete their mission in 41 days, but when they were visiting SpruceCube in West Virginia, they told the BBC they had already set out on a trip a day before the schedule. And now it is possible to complete their journey in 39 or 40 days.
“Their energy levels are fluctuating,” Patrick said. We crossed a floor at about 2:30 pm last night. Then after nine o’clock in the morning, nine miles more hiking. If we get enough and have a chance to rest, then they will be fine. ‘
We get energy from the people we meet in connection with the summit and it really makes us very happy. Diabetes is a very lonely condition. It’s not necessary that we get sick all the time. I think people have a hard time understanding that the disease happens to us 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
We want to let the world know that if your attitude is positive then you can do anything in such a way. You might be thinking that having such a busy schedule is essential to having a healthy diet.
But Michael says altitude can also affect your diet. My challenge right now is to eat more. There is no continuity. During this time we can never sleep for eight hours or eat three meals a day. We sleep for a few hours at a time, stay in a van and now have dinner at a gas station.
Patrick agrees, too. “We try our best to have a good meal,” he says. But we’re spending time on chocolate bars and cheese. We are so busy that after 12 hours of walking we realize we have nothing to eat or have just eaten some light chips and biscuits.
Michael says the experience is nothing short of a dream for diabetics. We spent several months planning it and then a flood came up that changed our plans. Diabetes is such a disease. No matter how ready you are, anything can go wrong.
For several days when I woke up, I kept telling myself that this was what I was doing. Then there were some experiments that showed us what we were doing.
‘In North Carolina we went hiking with a high school student who had some difficulties. When we finished hiking, he said it helped him understand that the future is bright. ‘
“If any child gets the better of what we are doing, it is also very valuable to us.”