It seems fitting, whilst I’m recovering from the second fracture of my fifth metatarsal in 6 months, to talk about the effects of injury. For everyone who plays sport, injury is part and parcel of taking part. There aren’t many players or athletes who can span a whole career without having to face up to the difficulties of it. Unfortunately for me I’ve had quite a few in my time, which have varied in severity.
In my opinion, the mental pain of injuries far outweighs any of the physical pain you feel. Yes in some cases the pain can be agony and excruciating but this often reduces within 2/3 weeks of the moment in which you suffered it. The mental strain can last much longer.
For anyone in sport, injury is a tough physical and mental test of your resilience and determination, but if you add Diabetes into that it creates an even more complex return to fitness.
That snack you used to have before bed with 2 units now becomes 4, that meal which required a 1:1 ratio now becomes a 1:2 and the responses to insulin your body has had for the last 2 years has changed completely in the space of a week. All of the tricks and shortcuts you’d learnt and taught yourself over the last few years go completely out of the window as a result of this lifestyle changing injury. The move from super active to completely inactive poses challenges to Diabetics that the rest of society doesn’t see.
I’m going through all of this right now, but it isn’t my first bad injury so I know what to expect and how to “try” and attempt to keep both the Diabetes controlled and remain positive ahead of a return to action in the future.
For the first week the body seems to react in a similar way to what I’m used to and ratios remain similar to when I was exercising, but I know a change is coming. It’s in those following weeks where I try and reduce my carbohydrate intake, as I don’t need the energy, I drop my insulin doses and keep a closer eye on my meal ratios. It’s frustrating, as I’m normally so active that I can sneak treats into my diet and not notice their impact, but during this time every carb that is digested impacts on the control of my blood glucose levels and the sustainability of my body weight. The focus for me is ensuring my body remains in the best shape it can be to make the return to activity as easy as possible, as there’s nothing more frustrating than having to lose weight, having known the shape you were previously in.
No period of injury is ever the same, so the more testing I do, the more I learn about the way my body is reacting and what I need to do to remain in control. As long as you’re confident in learning from trial and error you’ll be able to cope with your Diabetes during this testing time. It gets easier the longer you’re inactive but whilst you’re itching to get going again, you know you’re about to flip this lifestyle you’ve just got used to back upside down, as soon as the Doctor gives you the all clear!
Knowing what’s ahead of me in this most recent injury setback helps me to come to terms with it but I’m not sure it makes it any easier. I still have the same emotions as any other injured sportsperson, the self-doubt, the questioning, the anxiety and depressed feeling of not being able to compete in something I love doing but I have to add to that the complete regime change to my Diabetes.
Injury is engrained within sport, unfortunately, but dealing with it as a Diabetic poses challenges and difficulties most cannot appreciate. It’s a test of mental strength, that’s coupled with the complication of ripping up your Diabetes textbook and starting again!