Earlier this year we introduced Dilan Shah and his blog, as one of our new supporters. Since then his blog has progressed into an informative and excellent journal as he prepares to undertake his challenge of a lifetime and climb to the Everest Base Camp in 2014! We are delighted to share his latest blog entry as he talks more about raising awareness for T1 diabetes.
“So the trek is becoming ever closer…and assuming all goes to plan in 1 month I will have been trekking for over a week, and I hope to have reached Everest Base Camp (EBC) and the summit of Kala Patthar. I know I have been talking about EBC, at an altitude of 5365m, because it is most well-known, but this is actually a big rudimentary campsite used by climbers/trekkers. A further 200m altitude ascent, but a day’s trek away is Kala Patthar, a Himalayan summit, and my ultimate goal. It will provide the most accessible point to view Mt. Everest from base camp to peak, which cannot actually be seen from base camp.
“My blogs so far have been quite detailed, and that is only because I want to raise awareness. Although I started blogging not quite knowing whether I would have anything to say, it turns out although I haven’t written many blogs, the blogs have all been quite long, but I hope they have been interesting (I assume this is the case given the likes on Facebook and ~400 views on WordPress).
“When I signed up to trek to Everest Base Camp, I wanted to accompany that with fundraising, because I feel it is important to help others who are less fortunate. As a Type 1 Diabetic, something that I have always wanted to do was sponsor diabetes medication for a child, whose family cannot afford the high cost of medication, in a developing country where medication needs to be self funded. Given my Indian ethnicity, I was drawn to look for a charity in Indian, that supports diabetics and through which sponsorship can be coordinated.
“From searching the web, I found the DREAM Trust and read the stories from Dr Pendsey on his inspiration and drive to set up the Charity, and all the work he has done for local diabetics, alongside his diabetes clinician role. This also led me to the Pendsey Trust, which was founded by Lucy Laycock, after she saw the work conducted by the DREAM Trust first hand. After a conversation with Lucy about the Dream Trust, and realizing how all funds raised makes such a big difference to so many people, I knew that I wanted to support the Dream Trust through the Pendsey Trust.
“The Pendsey Trust works with the Dream Trust as their local partner in India, which means that all donations made go directly to those individuals that are identified by Dr Pendsey as needing the most assistance. I have chosen to fundraise to sponsor diabetes medication (insulin injection and blood glucose testing supplies) for a child, because as a Type 1 diabetic, I appreciate first-hand that without insulin, unfortunately diabetics wouldn’t survive. I am coordinating, but together we are sponsoring Gaurav, who was identified by Dr Pendsey as in need of the most support, as his family couldn’t afford the high medication cost.
“The work also done by the Pendsey Trust has meant large numbers of people with diabetes have been sponsored through education or vocational qualifications, and therefore are able to/will be able to self-fund medication costs.
“Type 1 Diabetes means that diabetics are dependent on insulin injections, but your support/donations to the Pendsey Trust will mean they are no longer dependent on medication sponsorship once children become adults.
“I have talked about the vision Dr Pendsey had in setting up the Dream Trust, and introduced Gaurav the Type 1 diabetic child whose medication we are sponsoring. I am grateful that being in the UK diabetes medication is provided at no charge. It continues to sadden me that although insulin was discovered over 90 years ago, and has never been patented; it is unfortunately not available to all Type 1 diabetics. As Gaurav’s father said (in the video included in my last post), “The help we are getting from the Dream Trust is saving Gaurav’s life”, and this is the reality. As a Type 1 diabetic, this is personal, and I appreciate all your sponsorship and support.
“Friends have asked how I have been preparing for the Everest Base Camp challenge, so let me briefly explain. In my mind there will be a few competing factors which will make this trek challenging – altitude, temperature, fitness/fatigue and diabetes. Unfortunately living in the UK, altitude training is not really possible – Everest Base Camp is over 4 times higher than Ben Nevis (the highest point in the UK), and the travel distance doesn’t make it practical. Having climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa, I have had some altitude experience, but the body can cope differently on different occasions at altitude. The summit night on Kili was tough, and it was the combination of factors, not just altitude that meant this.
“The temperature will vary quite dramatically, likely that the average day time temperature initially will be mid-teens, and this will drop with altitude and at night may reach minus 20 degrees centigrade. I cannot train for temperature variation; therefore I have been preparing through sourcing the correct kit to take. I also have a maximum (relatively restrictive) weight limit to consider; therefore I am quite limited in terms of the number of items of clothing. In terms of kit, I will be taking merino wool base layers, which apparently don’t smell after numerous wears (therefore likely my clothes will smell better than me!), and keep the body warm and cool. Socks bought are of different thicknesses with additional liners for comfort/warmth; both liner and ski-gloves to keep hands warm; and for the head/neck will wear a buff (on Kili I kept this on for the full week, and others thought they would have to surgically remove it from me!). Several fleeces of different thicknesses and water/wind-proof jackets will be additional layers as temperatures continue to drop – likely I will look like the Michelin man, as I attempt to reach Everest Base Camp and the summit of Kala Patther!
“To improve fitness and as part of training for this trek, on nearly every Sunday for the last 3 months I have done a walk/hike for several hours. This has meant Sunday morning lie-in’s ceased, given I was leaving home at 7.30am! The group that I am going to Nepal with has been fantastic, and they have led these Sunday morning training walks. As part of training I also went to Snowdonia in Wales a couple of times, and also completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge, which was the most intense training, given the 26 mile distance walked over ~11.30 hours. In addition, I have found that stretches have been key to preventing muscle aches; and given some knee pain from previous Marathon running, I have focused on strengthening knee muscles.
“Type 1 diabetes means this Trek will also be a medical challenge for me. I will take spare medical supplies, and try and keep medication warmer at cold temperatures, by keeping this in a running pouch, which I will wear under most of my layers. For the last couple of years I have been using an insulin pump, and I expect this to give me more flexibility, because I will be able to more rapidly reduce or increase the amount of insulin that I am taking, dependent on my blood sugar levels. I will be testing my blood sugar levels more frequently, and hope that blood glucose meter provides reasonably accurate readings – although no equipment is considered reliable at such altitude/temperatures. Practically speaking, I think testing blood sugar levels will become difficult given cold temperatures will mean removing gloves and finger pricking may become harder. To prevent low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia), I will mix electrolyte in water, such that I am taking on carbohydrate with every gulp, and will also keep a supply of glucose tables.
“Whilst Type 1 diabetes will make the Everest Base Camp trek a challenge, I am indebted that the medication which is keeping me alive and allowing me to participate in such challenges is available freely in the UK. Unfortunately this is not the case in many countries, including India, and therefore the reality is where families cannot afford medication, children unfortunately don’t survive. For me this really is personal, and I feel strongly that we CAN make a difference and Gaurav benefits directly from our sponsorship – nothing more drives me than remembering his father’s words that this is saving his life.
Thank you in advance for your support.