Riding in memory of Eddie – by Ruth Hyde
My younger brother, Eddie, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was aged 6 or 7 – and from that age he had to give himself insulin injections every single day. I clearly remember the early days of learning how to inject himself, practising on an orange, disinfecting glass syringes and needles and the whole family having to get to grips with sugar-free chocolate which, in the 1970s, tasted pretty awful. We were lucky to be part of a local parent’s support group which helped everyone get through those first trying months.
His childhood wasn’t plain sailing – there were hospital admissions and limitations on what he could eat, but my parents were keen to keep things ‘normal’ and aside from my Mum’s habit of stuffing her handbag with sugar lump packets whenever we went out ‘just in case of hypos’, we all adjusted and nothing stopped as a consequence of his diagnosis.
Eddie was bright, chatty, funny, quirky – a really original thinker. He was passionate about the things that interested him and determined to share his enthusiasm with anyone who would listen and completely disinterested in things that didn’t. He was an incredibly loyal and loving friend, and, like any sibling, an intensely annoying little brother at times!
Technology, science and research moved on – but sadly not enough. Eddie died from diabetes aged 26…nearly 25 years ago. In the last couple of years of his life it was a struggle to control his diabetes and, while he was generally healthy, his hypos became harder to recognise and respond to, particularly at night (which we believe was a side-effect of the move to human insulin). He died alone at home in his sleep while my parents were on holiday. We will always miss him.
And this is why I’ve bitten the bullet and signed up for the 100-mile Ride London cycle event in memory of and to celebrate the life of my younger brother, and in the hope that my fundraising will aid research into diabetes. I’d like to think he’d be proud to find me raising money for Diabetes UK – but I suspect be would be puzzled that I’d think a 100-mile bike ride was a good idea.
This is the first time I’ve attempted a fundraising challenge of this scale but I love a challenge – and it all came about thanks to a conversation with one of the other girls that I cycle with. I’m fairly new to cycling and started following a knee operation on the advice of my doctor. My friend mentioned RideLondon – which seemed like a challenge to get my teeth into. I was lucky enough to get a ballot place but fundraising for Diabetes UK on the back of the ride felt like absolutely the right thing to do.
And Riding in memory of Eddie seems very appropriate. I can actually remember helping him learn to ride his first bike (a family hand-me-down with fat white tyres and stabilisers), and cycling round the neighbourhood on adventures with a little gang of friends. As I recall the days were always sunny, roads were flat and pothole free, and punctures never happened. I’m rather hoping this will be the same for RideLondon.
It’s fair to say that my fundraising is progressing better than my training so far – the poor weather put paid to many outdoor rides over the last couple of months although I have managed a few sessions in the gym. I’ve got some longer distance rides planned in over the next few weeks so I’ll be getting out again regardless of the weather.
Friends and family have been incredibly generous and I’m half way to my £1000 target. It’s been lovely to see the comments on my Justgiving page from old friends who remember Eddie, newer ones who have never met him and members of my cycling club. I’ll be cycling RideLondon on my own, but knowing they are behind me all the way will spur me on and keep me motivated on the big day.