I am rowing the Atlantic ocean, thanks to diabetes – by Hugo Thompson


Hugo-Thompson-blogger-150x124 years old, on the other side of the world and I’m in for a big surprise. I found myself in Sydney, Australia working for an insurance company 12 hours a day, losing whatever weight I still had like you would never know was possible.

My eyes were constantly bagging, I was drinking litre upon litre of water as if someone just invented the stuff. I would sleep an hour, drink a litre of water, use the washroom and repeat all night. That’s when I started to think something was up.

It was time to go to the doctors. It was in a fast paced health clinic, used mainly to make sure I could get to work on time. The consultation went well enough. A nurse took my bloods and instructed me to come back the following day for the results. In my head now, they were just going to give me a bunch of sleeping pills and tell me I’m working too hard. Then the call came.
“Urm hi Mr Thompson, we need you to come back to the surgery at your earliest convenience.”

This is when the realisation came that all might not be okay and naturally your head starts to come up with all manners of weird and wacky, life ending diseases that you now definitely have.
The news was given like a plaster being ripped off: “your blood sugar is dangerously high, you have mild ketosis and you really need to see a specialist as soon as you can. Here have a leaflet with some information and a referral number for a doctor who actually knows how to handle this situation.”

Now for me, the first thing that went through my head were things like ‘my life is never going to be the same again’ and ‘this means I have to inject myself all the time just to stay alive’. Ten minutes to myself and a bit of a panic later and I got to the internet. Like a lot of people, I really didn’t know a lot about Type 1 diabetes and how it worked. Then I was smacked in the face with pages and pages of limitless information about what you should and shouldn’t do, how Type 1 diabetes will affect me as a person and how to treat yourself constantly for the rest of your life.

Question after question buzzed around my head: what if I forget to take my insulin, how was I going to exercise regularly around this condition, what happens at night? However, the most pressing thought at that moment was ‘how on earth was I going to climb 23,379ft to the top of the mountain I had already planned and paid for in the upper Himalayas two weeks later?

So what’s next? I have travelled the world, climbed mountains, cycled across Europe and lived in foreign lands for three years. I am 100% determined not to let Type 1 diabetes affect my life or the way I live it. In fact I am so passionate about this that it has pushed me even further into wanting to test my body, my mind and my newly diagnosed ‘condition’. So having seen a documentary on YouTube, I set my mind on the next adventure. I am going to race a rowing boat 5000 km across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean island of Antigua. It will take the team (my partner and I) between 40 and 90 days to complete and we will have to row in a two hours on, two hours off pattern, 24 hours a day for the duration.

More people have been to space or climbed Mount Everest than have crossed the Atlantic by rowing boat. I decided the challenge must be done because there are so many people out there that have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes that will feel like they now live a limited life. Or perhaps it’s a parent thinking their child’s life won’t be the same now they have Type 1.

If I can spend two years of my life, showing people that this isn’t the case, learning about the effects diabetes has on my body when I put it through such torture and passing that information on. Then it’s two years well spent. There is a great community attached to diabetes and I intend, like so many others out there, to be a positive part of it. This is why I am fundraising for Diabetes UK.

During my training I will blog the lows, the highs and everything in the middle from different diets, training methods, negative and positive influences. My story is everyone’s story and it begins here.

Donate to Hugo’s fundraising mission

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