Avoiding the rock falls – Helen May

Most of my climbing is done in the safe environment of a climbing gym in a church. However, due to my interest in climbing, I read articles about climbers, watch movies about climbing adventures and listen to radio interviews with climbers.

Like watching Touching the Void about Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’s adventure in the Andes, reading about Alex Honnold’s recent solo climb of El Capitan and listening to Andy Kilpatrick talk about his experiences.

A few years ago, I heard a radio interview with Andy Kilpatrick. The reporter was not a climber and was very concerned about the dangers associated with the sport. I don’t remember Kilpatrick’s exact response but I remember the gist:

“In climbing there is a lot you can control: you can control your choice of equipment to use and make sure it is safe (unless you are Alex Honnold and climb without any equipment); you can choose a partner you trust; if the weather is looking too hot, windy, wet, cold, you can decide not to climb; you can practice and train so you are fit; you can choose the route you are going to take to match your ability.

There are things you cannot control like rock falling away from the cliff but if you are aware of this risk, you can watch out for it and adapt quickly should it happen. So, yes, climbing can be dangerous but you can do a lot to minimise the risk.”

I recently engaged in a discussion with a lady whose son had just been diagnosed with Type 1. She had been reading and learning everything should could about the disease. As a result, she was scared. She was worried that what she did now as a parent could have disastrous affects on his life in 20 years’ time. She was worried that diabetes was taking away his life and any chance of spontaneity. She asked” How do you cope?”

I don’t think of myself “coping” with diabetes. I think about myself (and many others) “living with diabetes”. However, it can be overwhelming when you start researching diabetes and learn about the risk of heart disease, neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy, …

At this point, I remembered that interview with Andy Kilpatrick and realised how well it applies to diabetes. Sure, we can’t decide not to have diabetes because the weather’s not great. However, there is a lot we can control: we can control what we eat, how much we exercise and how we take our medicine whether it is insulin or metformin or other diabetes treatments; we can do a lot to keep our blood glucose under control.

Unfortunately, there is a still a risk we may get complications but if we control what we can, we reduce the probability that we experience a health-related rock fall. And, if we see the rock start to move (like a diagnosis of background retinopathy), we can adjust what is within our control and maintain the balance.

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