Monday, September 10, 2007

The Places I've Been

For the first time in 6 years I ran on my high school track last Friday night. The last time I ran on that track I was preparing for my senior season as the starting center at Hobart College and remember thinking after my last wind sprint for the summer, I'm ready for this year, I've prepared as hard as I could. I never thought all that preparation I did as a college football player could have enabled me to handle my 2007 the way I have.

The feeling was absolutely surreal, I had some things to take care of in the city and didn't get to my parent's house until 8:30 pm but I knew I needed to get my run in. I headed over to the track which was completely empty and had only one set of lights on. Running in the near darkness next to a field that I had amazing memories on allowed me to really reflect on my path of the past year. I recalled running through the gates to my high school field as a 170 lbs. sophomore guard starting my first varsity game and can say those emotions were very similar to the ones I had when I was diagnosed with Type 1. I remembered throwing up on my Dad's shoes after he had me run 15 suicides in the 90 degree August heat as I got prepared for my senior season in college and compare that to the tenacity I have attacked this disease with. But more than anything the time on the track let me realize that I've been working at something as hard as I've been working at controlling diabetes for as long as I can remember.

The darkness also put me at ease for one of the hardest struggles I'm going to have to face in the coming months. I fully believe that the stress I put myself under to get into a top MBA program last year was one of the reasons I developed Type 1 diabetes. After I completed my first master's in Political Economy in 2005 I signed up for a Kaplan course to prepare for the GMAT but was unhappy with the tutoring they provided, from there I enrolled in Manhattan GMAT, took the test and scored a 670 - ok but not quite elite level. That fall I wrote my applications to Darden, Haas, Tuck and Columbia with self-doubt and no confidence. I most likely had blood sugars that were running all over the place as I couldn't figure out why I didn't have the ability to focus as I used to or why I would pass out on my couch after having 2 beers with a friend while watching the Giants. Starting in January I received rejection after rejection and my confidence was shaken blow by blow.

To prove the admissions committees wrong I was pro-active, signed up for an accounting course at Pace, found a GMAT tutor and starting coaching youth football. Somewhere between all that I was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was struggling to keep a relationship together. I received an A in that accounting course and then took a finance course receiving another A which helped me regain some of my academic confidence, I retook the GMAT and scored in the 90th percentile and found another youth football league to coach in. Now September is here again and I've done all that I can to improve my application but I'm scared to death of the ramifications of going through all this again. Last year the process completely changed my life and this year I have to face all those fears and all those vulnerabilities as I chase my dreams.

Perhaps I've had to fight for everything I've gained so I could be prepared to handle this disease in the way that I have. So I'd have the courage to sign up for an Ironman to inspire children with Type 1 diabetes. So I'd have the intensity and fortitude to only eat turkey sandwiches on whole wheat for lunch or to only have ultra meal protein shakes for breakfast. My entire past has helped me prepare for battling this disease but now I'm at a point where I must battle the situation that may have been the catalyst to my pancreas failing and it is a fight I refuse to loose this time. Tonight Darden's application and me meet again!


Sarah said...

I too had a very similar experience with applying to graduate school. I took the GREs with very little adequate preparation as I had worked two jobs during the summer before I took it, and couldn't afford time or money to do test-prep. It was very early in the analytic writing section's use and I scored appallingly low on it, though I did pretty decently on the rest. That fall I had lots of symptoms that I didn't connect up to diabetes until I went home for Thanksgiving, and then I forced myself to make it through two more weeks of school plus finals after that as I couldn't really afford to do the whole hospital thing, plus I was about to graduate and I wanted to just get it over with. I applied to five or six different schools and only got accepted to two - and only one gave me funding. One of the schools I applied to was U of M. They have a brutal application process and due to one single mistake (I accidentally applied to the wrong program with a very similar name - hard to read with sugary eyeballs), they misfiled my application from the rest of the stuff I sent them. I was so angry when I found out. The next day I had a doctor's appointment and on went the diagnosing.
In conclusion, graduate school applications and diabetes go very poorly together - I'm very glad to hear that you're taking the plunge with your MBA program. I wish you all the best!

Shannon said...

Do you know why I read your blog? Because you have the tenacity I see in my own son.

I would love to have him read your posts and show him someone who is similar to him (he's only 7, but still) and give him an example of someone who keeps pursuing and doesn't give up.

What you're doing is difficult in and of itself, and diabetes makes it all that much more difficult and complicated.

But, I believe you can achieve whatever goals you've set for yourself.

Us parents of D kids need more people like you to set an example for them.

Thanks :)

Dying Water Buffalo said...

Lovely and heartfelt post, Ed.

Amylia said...

I am with you on that, too. My twin sister got diabetes after my parents divorce and I got mine after my mom's alcoholism increased to an unmanageable level, and I do believe stress and internal factors influence the onset of diabetes, though no studies prove this yet.

Thank you for this brave and honest post. I admire your tenacity and courage to keep going despite the odds. You are proof positive that it really is mind over matter. As I battle my own diabetes management,which has not been controlled tightly these past few years, as well as beginning graduate school in Taiwan, teaching a whole new full time schedule at the university and trying to learn Chinese, manage a romantic relationship, and write and exercise somewhere in there, it's proof that we can do what we put our minds to, though it's not easy, it is worth doing!

Bernard said...


You've done a great job accepting th big D. I think the effort on the Ironman alone should qualify you for acceptance.

Best of luck with those college admissions and I hope you're accepted by the place that's just right and meant for you.