Working now as a cycling coach I quite often deal with clients who are going through the rigmaroles of coming back from injury, sickness or some kind of life setback. With the experience of having been through this process many times I feel I have learnt some good strategies to share about how to best deal with the ‘comeback’.
We set off just before
the first glimpses of sunlight at 3.30am from the northern fishing
village of Stanley. Spirits and motivation were high in these
initial hours of the ride, as the sun rose winds were very light and
we were making good progress. As with many journey’s the motivation
is at it’s peak in the initial phases. Capitalising on the strong
motivation and good conditions we covered good ground in the first 3
hours covering over 110km. However at the first big mountain climb
of the day we lost our first 2 victims to the challenges of the ride
who hopped in the support vehicle we had organised due to sickness
and fatigue. Leaving just 4 of us to share the work for the
remaining 390km. As the mountains became steeper and longer at the
150km mark, my legs started succumbing to the difficulty of this
ride. Turning the pedals was becoming more and more of a struggle as
each kilometre ticked over. But perhaps the most difficult thing at
this part of the ride was knowing that there was still 300+km
remaining. My longest ride up until this day was just over 310km
which I remember as being extremely difficult and writing me off
physically for weeks. The mental knowledge of what lay ahead seemed
monumental and insurmountable.
Diabetes I believe has taught me a lot about dealing with setbacks and vice versa, cycling has taught me a lot about dealing with diabetes. When in the midst of a run of erratic BSL days or in the hours after a serious hypo all the signs we get from our body are negative. The feeling is one of unshakeable fatigue, stress, pain and sometimes shame. For some people with diabetes these feelings can last for weeks, months and even years as the struggle to manage T1 diabetes drags on. In Diabetes as in life itself- Bad things happen! It is part of life for everyone. Looking back at the injuries and the many bad days of diabetes management I have gone through one trait has been common in dealing with all of these PATIENCE. Wether it is a broken bone or sky high blood sugar, things WILL get better. We can bounce back!
The times I have spent in hospital has always been a sobering experience and has
reiterated the importance of patience. When a patient in hospital you are very rarely the most worse off person in there. There is almost always someone in there with far greater challenges to deal with than you. The perspective this can grant when noticed goes a long way to enabling that patience and empowering one’s own recovery journey.
In 2006 I spent a good 2weeks in Canberra hospital as I had emergency surgery after cracking the neck of my femur. Following the surgery I was placed in a ward with those recovering from head injuries. In the bed next to me was a fella named Steve, he worked on a sheep farm about 90mins from Canberra close to the town of Yass. He had recently crashed his quad bike farm vehicle and hit his head. His memory was impacted and was facing neurological tests every 2 days to ascertain wether his short term memory would ever return. It was heart breaking to see him encounter these tests so frequently and be denied his ticket out of the hospital upon failing. He so desperately wanted to get home to his wife, kids and animals. It was uncertain wether his memory and full brain function would ever return, he was facing a potential lifetime of not being able to use his brain to it’s capacity. I wish I had taken contact details so I could follow up on his recovery..
Next to Steve my broken bones, staf infection and spiralling blood sugar levels were but a mere inconvenience. For any broken bone and diabetes issue requiring hospitalisation we will recover. Perspective encourages patience both of these traits put us back on the high speed train to recovery.
To further assist in unlocking those 2 P’s (Perspective and Patience) of the comeback, the role model again plays a crucial role. After breaking my pelvis in 2016 in a desperate urge to find a quicker path to recovery I would continuously scour the internet searching for that magic treatment that silver bullet that might heal bones quicker. All too often I would come across worst case scenario stories that only made me feel like I was never going to make a return to the bike. Sadly, the most tragic stories are the ones that tend to gather the most traction on the world wide web and become very hard to ignore. However, converseIy found the list of stories from those whom had made a full recovery from a broken pelvis was plentiful and quite amazing!
In 2013 cyclist Geraint Thomas broke his pelvis in a stage of the Tour de France, In 2018 he had made a full recovery and WON the Tour de France!
As in my life with diabetes, finding a role model/ a story to relate to for your situation can be so encouraging. For near all challenges in life there is a positive story of recovery to be found and accessing those stories is now easier than ever! Role models can be powerful, even if you never ever meet them.
I know there can be many dark days in managing diabetes, but remember they are just that- days NOT lifetimes .
After receiving a diagnosis of type1 diabetes at age ten, Justin’s dreams and goals in life were threatened. Turning to cycling to help him cope with type1 diabetes quickly proved to not only be beneficial but also the start to a successful pro cycling career. Justin spent five years as a professional in road cycling travelling the world racing his bike. Dealing with the challenges of sport and diabetes across five different continents has given Justin a wealth of stories and knowledge about dealing with challenges on and off the bike.
Having since transitioned from a pro cycling career to completing two university degrees in psychology and education from Macquarie University in 2015 and being awarded with a University Blues Award for excellence in sport and academics. Justin continues to fuel his competitive streak with multi day mountain bike racing for team SubarumarathonMTB.com, having achieved podium finishes at The Crocodile Trophy, The Simpson Desert BikeChallenge, The Pioneer in New Zealand and The Mongolia Bike Challenge.
Since 2011 Justin has complemented his cycling career with sharing a message of hope, empowerment and overcoming adversity to audiences internationally.