Mike’s Story – NEW!

Once again, here’s the #1 FAQ and Mike’s response to it …

“Why do you want to ride across the USA?”

Like Lucia said, “One question with so many answers.” Unlike Lucia, I will be a  smart-aleck and say, “It’s complicated …”

But, here’s the short answer for those of you Type A personalities:

Because I can!

The whole “because I can” concept for me is an offshoot of the “tape measure of life” concept, which might be where the “Do it Now!” concept came from, but it’s probably older than that too.

Here’s the refresher – Take a tape measure, no not mentally, actually take a tape measure and pull out the tape to 85 inches (if you are on the metric system, pull it out to 85 cm). Now, put your finger on your current age, then take a look at the distance from the beginning of the tape to your finger, and then the distance from your finger to 85 whatevers. Now reflect and come back here when you’re done …

85 on the tape
85 on the tape

… okay, you’re back!?! Wow, that was shorter than I thought it would be, but now that you’re done reflecting, let’s get back to me. I’m now 62, here’s how the tape measure thing looks for me:

62 on the tape
62 on the tape
What's left
What’s left

Now I’m leaving out all of the “tape” leading up to 62 and I’m just going to talk about the relatively small bit remaining. Ummmmm, that’s just 23 years left — I immediately start to think about how I want to spend those remaining inches while constantly mixing metaphors with reality. Bottom line: Sooner is better than later, so I’m going pedaling while I still can, okay?

Overall, I’m in pretty good shape for having been on this rock for 62 trips around the sun. However, I do have a serious chronic condition called Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), formerly called juvenile diabetes. The really high-level, banal view of T1D means I have to take insulin every day, many times a day, while monitoring my blood glucose levels many times each day. In other words, I have to “manage” my chronic condition (24/7, btw with no days off). It’s not an “illness” that will go away with any sort of medical treatment/diet/exercise, except maybe a pancreas transplant – but then you’re really getting complicated …

If you’re interested, here is an excellent T1D, Diabetes 101 Explainer written by a guy named Mike Stebbins (thanks Mike!). He is developing his very own artificial pancreas (aka – using lots of existing technology, plus his own and others open source programming skills, to build a machine, linked to the cloud to control his diabetes) – “Dear Machines: You Can Take This Job”.

The upshot of all this is that I have my own collection of technology that includes an insulin pump, a glucose meter (aka a finger-stick meter, because I have to poke my finger and get some blood for it to provide me with blood glucose data), and a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that uses an under the skin sensor to also provide me with even more blood glucose data. The pump and CGM sensor are worn 24/7.

Glucose Meter - aka finger-stick meter
Glucose Meter – aka finger-stick meter
Dexcom G4 CGM alongside insulin and a newly filled pump cartridge
Dexcom G4 CGM alongside insulin and a newly filled pump cartridge

I not only get the privilege of managing all the data, programming the pump, and making dosing decisions, but I also have to make sure that I have all the supplies needed to make everything work, including:

  • Insulin in vials (needs to stay out of direct heat); 2 vials/month (one as a back-up)
    • A special evaporative cooling pouch to prevent overheating, called a Frio pouch
  • Insulin pump
  • Back-up insulin pump
  • Insulin needles as a back-up to the back-up insulin pump
  • Insulin cartridges for the pump (a new one every 7 – 10 days)
  • Infusion sets for the pump (gets the insulin from the pump into my body)
    • Sets get changed every 1 – 3 days, roughly 20/month; sweat is an enemy (but not the only one)
  • Batteries and/or chargers for pump, meter and CGM
  • Blood glucose meter
    • Not water-proof/resistant
  • Spare blood glucose meter
  • Testing strips for the meter (6 – 12 or more times/day, roughly 300 strips/month)
  • Sensors for the CGM
    • The sensor gets changed every 7 days, but sometimes can last 2 – 3 weeks; sweat is the enemy here as well, meaning a sensor might last for less than a day.
  • Sensor transmitter – sends a wireless signal to the CGM receiver every 5 minutes
  • CGM receiver – provides a visual display of blood glucose values, along with valuable alarms when my BG gets out of range (too high or too low)
    • Not water-proof/resistant
  • Spare O-ringed battery caps for the pump
  • Proprietary tool to open the pump’s battery compartment
  • Glucose tablets/gel/powder to rapidly raise dangerously low blood glucose levels; exercise can be an enemy here

Since I can’t carry four months worth of all these supplies, my wonderful friends, Steve and Rachel will send me a care package every month to a Post Office along the way. The insulin and maybe the test strips will be purchased as we go along from local pharmacies.

Care packages on the assembly line
Care packages on the assembly line


Care package "stuff" - literally and figuratively
Care package “stuff” – literally and figuratively

So, after all of this, the answer to “Why?” remains

Because I can!

Keep on rolling!