Sick Days

Beware of visitors bearing gifts! Gifts in the form of a virus. Which made our poor visitor himself very sick.

For a type 1 diabetic, even the simple flu can be a life-threatening condition. I pride myself on good blood sugar management through diet, exercise and a total daily insulin dosage of 4 units.

When the flu comes, this all becomes irrelevant.

When the body fights an infection, stress hormones are released, which in turn cause the liver to release all it’s stored glucose as ammunition in the fight. Blood glucose skyrockets. At the same time the body becomes insulin resistant. I don’t know why. There is an enormous amount of sugar floating around in the bloodstream, but a type 1’s body can’t access it. Not enough insulin. The body starts to break down fat to survive. This process produces ketone bodies.Too many of these can bring on diabetic ketoacidosis, and death, in a matter of days.

The fix: inject insulin. Much insulin. And more insulin. Remember, the body is insulin resistant, and injecting insulin appears to be as effective as injecting water. There is a huge risk in that too, only by trial and error do I know whether enough is enough or too much. Too much means hypoglycaemia, and if not caught, coma and death.

My vision was going blurry, I peed gallons, and lost several kilos. Flu and type 1: the ideal weight loss product!

Three sleepless nights of battling raging sugars with ineffectual weapons, and I was beat. After breakfast, of which I ate two spoonfuls, I sat in my chair, reclined it, put up my feet and closed my eyes.

When I opened them, I knew exactly where I was. There is only one place on this planet that has this magical quality of light, a light shaped by the distant memory of rains, by dust and smoke. I am at the helm of my new little ship, which a moment ago was merely a set of drawings and a pile of plywood, timber and epoxy. Gonbung Point on the starboard beam, Urquhart on the port bow, making good use of the ebb, on the wings of a gentle land breeze, headed towards number 5 beacon. From there the course would be 210°M across Albatross Bay. All is well on board.

With the wind now forward of the beam, our valiant little vessel lifts her skirts and dances lightly across the waves, making good speed to bring her crew safely to her destination.

The fiery red ball of the sun dips into the Gulf of Carpentaria as we swing into the anchorage of that place. The first mate hands and stows the sails, as I let go the anchor. The rattle of the chain barely disturbs the peace. I cook a hearty dinner of potatoes, onions and beans, which is enjoyed in silence. Words are superfluous. The first stars wink in the east. The mystery of the night is upon us.

After cleaning the pots and utensils in a bucket of water alive with bioluminescence, the first mate retires to her bunk. I linger in the cockpit a little longer. The silence is palpable, the soft sighing of the surf on the sand like a symphonic song. Overhead an angry Scorpio flexes his tail across the sky. In the south, the kite of the Southern Cross launches itself out of the headland. In the north, the Bear points out the North Star to her cub. Below, darts of light in the water speak of fish eating fish. The anchor chain creaks softly.

This is my healing place, my dreamtime place. My body takes me here when things are tough.

I let the healing happen.

Healing, how? Not the laying on of hands, mumbo jumbo, suspension of the laws of nature variety. Rather, I receive courage to carry on, to not give up, to somehow see this to a good end. I receive serenity, a deep peace, a still eye in the turbulent storm. And I receive patience to bear the suffering without whining too much.

This too will pass.

About the author Rien

dutch by birth 🇳🇱 | australian by choice 🇦🇺 | type 1 diabetic 💉 | married ❤️⚭ | grandfather 👴🏻 | fujifilm photographer 📷 | boat builder and sailor ⛵️ | seeker no more 🚫📖

All posts by Rien →


  1. Stunning photography as always Rien. Get well soon.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Looks like Bung-bung beach… Joshua.

      Liked by 1 person


  2. Poor you! I hope you’re feeling better and back in charge. I feel like going tho that place now…

    Liked by 1 person


    1. We did some great sailing there, didn’t we! Am slowly on the mend, blood sugars are much improved, and I can eat again. I’ll be in fine shape by Saturday.

      Liked by 1 person


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