MoTo Move in Action – MoToMove #27

MoTo Move has written about Paula Harper before but since I ran into her at a conference, I took the opportunity to find out what she has been up to in recent times.The founder of IDAA/DESA had reached legendary status among diabetic athletes going back as far as 1978 when she started wearing a T-shirt scribbled with the words “I run on insulin” on the back. That was the beginning of what became the IDAA (International Diabetic Athletes Association). In the 1990’s the name changed to DESA (Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association) to be more encompassing. Over the years of its existence it was the only game in town that promoted, supported and educated in the field of diabetes and physical activity. Paula was its founding mother. Her list of accomplishments is amazing. She has completed 35 marathons, countless century bike rides, numerous hikes and climbs, with the favorite being the four times she hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim.

Today Paula is still on the move. After forty-seven years of living with T1D and reaching a seasoned age, Paula still hikes every day in the hills outside Tucson, cycles with her granddaughter and challenges herself with rigorous workouts on her rowing machine every morning. In other words, this gal is motivated to move.

A Long Day’s Journey to Find Motivation

From ancestral roots in India to growing up in London to settling down in Dubai with a wife, two children and a business, Deepak Malhotra found his way to San Diego, California to learn more about his diabetes and to find motivation. Up until then much of what he knew about caring for his diabetes had been through reading and research.

“I was diagnosed in 1994, one week before starting University. Dealing with this condition was traumatic for me and the family – not helped by the fact that I’d soon be moving away from home. At this time the treatment was very different from what we have today. Also, I was 18-years old and looking forward to drinking and socializing. I found it very difficult and had a hard time understanding what was going on.”

Things began to change for Deepak in 1998 when on a backpacking adventure to Angel Falls, Venezuela he met a fellow traveler from Germany who was wearing something Deepak had never seen before. It was an insulin pump.

“I came back to the UK, went to Cambridge University and went on an insulin pump – becoming one of the first pump users in UK. When CGMs came out, I started using the initial Medtronic version but did not find it particularly effective for my needs. I then moved to the first Dexcom, along with an Animas pump and that was very helpful for both my diabetes and my lifestyle. But it was in early 2018 I started having lots of issues with my diabetes particularly around my injection sites not being effective”. In Dubai available diabetes care is limited and Deepak traveled to London for medical care. But he longed to know more and meet and dialogue with other T1D’s especially since he was having problems.

“I took counsel from diabetes educator Gary Scheiner and flew to Philadelphia with my wife in May 2018. I found it life changing in terms of the knowledge I gained about how to deal with some of my issues. It was there I first learned about Afreeza and the Loop.”

While in the U.S. Deepak heard about a T1D conference run by TCOYD in San Diego and decided to find his way there. So, in August last year he went to the conference and discovered more about both of these solutions. Before going home to Dubai, he made a stop in Wisconsin to meet educator Jenny Smith who set him up on the “Loop”.

“I arranged to collect supplies of Afreeza while I was in the US. So, with Afreeza, the Loop, technological support from Gary and Jenny and what I learned at the conference, I am now in a position that I am using the latest technology available to manage my diabetes and feel very optimistic. I will be coming to the conference in San Diego again this year where I hope to learn more, reconnect with friends and share with others.”

Deepak had been motivated and enlightened by all his new knowledge and support. Not only was he exposed to other T1D’s but he was amazed at how many people he met who have lived successful and healthy lives with diabetes for 30, 40, 50 and more years. He feels a great sense of comradery with all the new friends he made, plus he learned much hands-on information about new technology and tools to treat T1D. witness the energy of other T1D’s learning, sharing and yes, celebrating their successful lives with diabetes.

Wake Up Call to MoTo Move

One other example of people, particularly T1D’s, who get up and are MoTo Movers, was clear at the same conference. At 7am each morning, large numbers were out power walking, beach running, doing yoga poses, and even practicing Tai Chi Qi Gong with this humble T1D writer. Was it enthusiasm, necessity or just plain determination to live healthy and successful lives as we go forward moving with motivation? Answer: all of the above.