Words by Heather Gomez, Paul Vugteveen & Lindsey Palar | Photos provided by Paul Vugteveen & Lindsey Palar
Have you been wondering what it would be like to join Connected in Motion on the upcoming 5.5er Canoe Trip this summer? We thought we would let our friends Paul and Lindsey tell you firsthand about their experience on the 2014 trip!
Q: First, tell us a little about yourselves.
Paul has Type 1 diabetes and Lindsey is the Type 3 (as we call it in the States) / 5.5er. We are partners and have been together for almost 9 years. Paul’s diagnosis occurred six years ago (at the age of 25), just under three years into our relationship. Paul is a chef and Lindsey is a social worker, and we live in Kalamazoo, Michigan with our dog and two cats.
Q: Why did you decide to go on the 5.5er canoe trip?
Paul attended the Annual Canoe trip in 2014 and was eager to share a similar experience with Lindsey. Paul found the trip to be monumental Type 1 diabetes management, with all that it entails and was eager to see Lindsey benefit from a similar adventure as his support person.
Prior to the trip, we had already spent a great deal of time together in canoes, but never to the extent that the 5.5er trip provided us. We were eager for a new out-of-doors challenge to help us both manage to have the disease in our lives with a little more ease and support. Creating personal connections with others living with similar circumstances has proved to be of incredible value to us both.
Creating personal connections with others living with similar circumstances has proved to be of incredible value to us both.
Q: What was the highlight of the trip?
The canoeing is always marvelous in the locations that CIM selects, and the challenge of portaging is always memorable and rewarding. On the 2016 trip, in particular, one exceptional memory was finding the camping spot on the island the first night – it was so picturesque, and we found the perfect place to hang our hammock for an afternoon nap. 🙂
Q: Paul, as a T1D, have you had experiences like this with the T1 community before? What did you enjoy the most about doing a canoe trip with other T1Ds around you?
Before discovering CIM, I wasn’t part of any T1 community. It was through CIM’s amazing programs and adventures that I was able connect with other folks with T1D in a meaningful way. How I manage T1D has been elevated to a new level ever since my first trip with CIM. I gained confidence to push myself to be more active and to be more intentional about my choices that affect my overall health. The experience of being with other T1s was life changing – I was able to be with other individuals, not as someone who was different, but as someone with whom they shared common thread. For a time, I never had to explain the difference between type 1 and type 2, how insulin works in the body, why my body doesn’t produce it, nor dispel any of the countless myths. Instead, I was able to be with my people, any of whom I can reach out to at any time for needed support.
Q: Lindsey, as a 5.5er, was there anything “new” or interesting you learned about diabetes on the trip? Or did you gain a new perspective on the diabetes community?
I am always learning from T1Ds because they have a wealth of information and experiences, and the amazing thing about the 5.5er trip is that I had the chance to be surrounded by so many T1s at once, which meant taking in a great deal of information (in a good way)! It is comforting in some way to witnessing others testing their blood sugars, correcting, and discussing carbohydrates for meals – it normalizes what I typically observe just Paul doing, and it makes me feel wonderful to know that he is not alone, and that I am not alone as a 5.5er.
Q: What would you tell a T1D and their 5.5er who are thinking about signing up?
We would tell a T1D and their 5.5er that this experience holds great value because it provides the opportunity to be active (in an empowering way) while discussing Type 1 Diabetes naturally and authentically. We carry the moments that we had on these trips with us, and are empowered to live to our fullest potential amidst Type 1 Diabetes by remembering the challenges and how we moved through them.