YLC Member Bethany Davey, only a years after diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes, did the incredible: Climbed to Mt Everest base camp! Read about Beth's story and how she didn't let T1D hold her back!
Taking Type 1 to Everest – Bethany Davey
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on the 7th of October, 2014: 8 weeks before I was supposed to be cycling in the Great Victorian Bike Ride, and 12 months before I was supposed to be travelling to Nepal and trekking to Everest Base Camp.
This isn’t going to be one of those blogs that says “You can achieve anything you put your mind to!” or “Don’t let chronic illness hold you back!” because truth be told, T1D did change who I was and what I could manage. But what I’m proposing, is that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. My diagnosis was a spanner in the works, as a 19 year old who was fairly confident that she was invincible, and had planned out nearly every year of her life for the next decade. All of a sudden, I had to relearn what I was capable of juggling, but it taught me to focus on my health and prioritise self-care.
Since returning home from Nepal, I have had a number of people ask what advice I would give to type 1 diabetics wanting to pursue a similar expedition. To be honest, I’ve never really known how to answer this question, because in many ways, I still feel like the new kid on the block. I haven’t even lived with type 1 for a year and a half, nor have I studied any kind of science since grade 10. Nevertheless, here are a few tips (with absolutely no medicinal or scientific backing), from a girl who definitely isn’t qualified to be giving this kind of advice:
- Don’t stress about the high carb diet. Your body needs the energy, so don’t hold back on the rice, bread and noodles. Just make sure you have snacks for when your BGLs crash after the big meals.
- Get good travel insurance. Most companies won’t cover you in the first 12 months post-diagnosis, so it took a fair bit of research to find a suitable company - but they do exist.
- Take spares of all your equipment, and make sure to always keep some insulin on your body so it doesn’t freeze. I also left some supplies in Kathmandu and Lukla, just to be safe.
- Be flexible. The altitude can make your BGLs rise, but usually the intensity of the trek brings you back down. It is definitely worth taking those acclimatisation days to rest and recover.
- No one on the mountain will know what diabetes is. Trying to explain T1D with the language barrier and lack of oxygen is too hard. When people ask if your insulin pump is a pacemaker, just smile and nod.
o anyone considering a trip to EBC – it all comes down to mind over matter. T1D adds an extra challenge to the trek, but it’s 100% doable. Make sure to communicate your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
To anyone who has been recently diagnosed – focus on what’s important to you (not what the health professionals tell you is important). For me, this meant getting back on my bike. Regardless of persisting hypoglycaemia, it restored confidence in my abilities and did wonders for my mental health.
I have found support networks in the most unlikely of places, and I am eternally grateful to my friends and family for their love, prayers and encouragement, every step of the way.