As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, moving cities when you have diabetes adds a layer of complexity. Aside from having to plan ahead for diabetes supplies and spend countless hours on the phone changing addresses, shipping and insurance information, there were other hurdles my new Portland home would bring.
Kick-Starting my Exercise Regimen
Exercise has always been an important part of my diabetes management, so it was important to me that I get back in to my pre-Asia trip workout routine right away. Because I don’t know any gyms in the area, I decided to start with my favorite free workout: running. I quickly found a gorgeous park nearby and developed a 30-minute route that was scenic and fun…until the rain.
I’m a born-and-raised San Diego gal and I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve never owned a proper raincoat. It’s not that I can’t handle inclement weather, it’s just that I’ve never really been prepared for it. Sure, I go skiing each winter, and as a kid, I spent most Christmases in Minnesota, but those were specific trips I could prepare for. San Diego’s weather is extremely predictable year-round, and on the odd days it does rain, most people just…stay inside. Yep, we’re total weather wimps down there. So one day about two weeks into living in Portland I suited up for a run to my new favorite park, opened the front door and saw all the rain…and promptly closed the door and went back to the couch. For a few hours.
Realizing the rain would be a permanent part of my new home, I knew I had to figure out how to keep up my workouts even in the drizzle. After all, there were thousands of people outside in the rain – running, getting groceries, walking the dog. None of them were fazed by it, so I needed to figure it out too.
The next day the rain continued, so I put on my running clothes, added a hat and put on the super lightweight, waterproof jacket. I stepped out into the rain, started running and lo and behold, did not get washed away, melt or fall in any puddles. I ran for the full 30 minutes and returned home feeling empowered and accomplished. I realized that it’s not about the weather – it’s about having the right gear for your sport. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to go do it. It pays to get the right gear for your environment so there’s never a wardrobe issue holding you back from getting a workout it. My blood glucose levels have been so much better since I started working out again, so it’s worth it to me to get out there even on a wet and windy day.
Connecting with the Diabetes Community
One of the toughest but least tangible diabetes issues with moving cities has to do with building up a new diabetes network. In San Diego, I volunteered for five years with American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Tour de Cure. Working with them introduced me to all sorts of folks in the diabetes community, from doctors to business people to other athletes with diabetes. I was never at a shortage for someone to reach out to for advice about training for sports events or to ask about the latest diabetes technology.
Up here in Portland, I don’t know anyone with diabetes. But that’s where the online community comes in so handy. After posting on my personal blog about my move, a reader reached out with her contact information. Her e-mail subject line read: “Welcome to Portland!”, and it brought such comfort to me just to see that in my inbox. More posts revealed more connections and I now have a handful of folks I can reach out to in the d-community. I’ve also looked up the upcoming events from my local ADA and Insulindepence group, and I can’t wait to meet up in person with other people with diabetes. I know it won’t be long before I’m plugged in to the Portland diabetes community.
Moving cities is one of the most exciting – and sometimes scary – things you can go through in life. Adding diabetes into the mix has complicated things to a certain extent, but it is also validating to know that it doesn’t change the overall experience of getting to know a new place. In some ways, like in the case of meeting up with diabetes organizations, having diabetes makes it easier to meet new people. And at least here in Portland I won’t have to deal with trying to order a diabetes-friendly meal in an unknown Southeast Asian language! That’s a huge relief.
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