Inspiration part 3

In my previous 2 posts about inspiration, I was somewhat flippant amongst the serious stuff. But recent events have provoked this post about the most important source of inspiration for this trip, and something I actually had in mind when I first decided to take on the challenge. Two weeks ago, my father, a type 1 diabetic for nearly 60 years, died from a combination of diabetes-related complications. In the previous 18 months, he had had both legs amputated below the knee and latterly, a finger. By the end, he had gangrene, scepticaemia, pneumonia, heart problems and very little circulation anywhere.

Despite having been diagnosed with diabetes in the 1950s when treatment was rudimentary, to say the least, he never complained and, rightly or wrongly, actually went to great lengths to not let on that he even had it, until more recently when things got tougher. But more importantly, he never let it stand in his way, and when I was diagnosed with it aged 8, in the 1980s, he was quick to quash any complaints I might have about getting the disease. He was an avid traveller and sportsman, and always encouraged me to do the things I wanted to, regardless of the possible dangers. I’m sure secretly he worried when I set off to New Zealand on my own for 8 months with nothing but a backpack, but by the time I’d told him I’d been bungy jumping, glacier climbing, and completed a week’s paragliding course, it was too late…

I visited him in the hospice about 3 days before he died, and we talked about my plans for Kilimanjaro next February. He was full of admiration and despite knowing full well that he only had a few days to live, insisted that he would not die until I came back from Kili and told him all about it. I replied that I’d better change my flight and go the next day, but he just laughed.

Memories of my dad and the courage and determination with which he faced adversity in life will be what motivates me the most. And as a constant reminder, I shall be wearing his watch on the trip. I hope the money I am planning to raise for the JDRF will help to fund more research into type 1 diabetes and eventually prevent others suffering as he did. Not to mention funding a cure in my own lifetime, or at least a fully functioning artificial pancreas.

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