Before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, one of my favorite past times was basketball. My best friend and I would head down for pick up basketball at the pavilion in Sugar Land, Texas. At 5’9” today, I was always undersized, sometimes taking the court (in middle school) at a whopping 4’8”! I was never that great of a shot or a menacing defender, but when I was on that cement floor I gave it my all.
After diagnosis at 26, I abandoned virtually all athletic activities. Basketball especially. The only thing I knew to do was to go hard and go non-stop. In my head, I could no longer rationalize or even envision how you could still give it your all when your all could lead to a diabetic seizure. When I finally found sports again, my love for obstacle course racing (OCR) took over and basketball became something I did 25 years ago.
This week as I am tapering down for the 24 hour Worlds Toughest Mudder, I passed the basketball court in my gym. I could not help picking up the basketball to reconnect with a long lost love. When I did, I of course took shots at the three point line or near to it. What’s the fun in shooting close? As I missed shot after shot, I could hear in my head: “Follow your Shot.”
Call it the Dennis Rodman diabetes management system- Hang around the rim and just keep tipping until it goes in.
It’s a lost art in basketball. Watching my son play, the new generation pulls up anywhere on the court and jacks a three like Steph Curry. Arms in the air they stare and just expect it to drop. Statistically only one player in the NBA has a three point percentage rate greater than 60% (meaning 40% of them are off). But for follow up shots, there are 8 NBA starters that have never missed and nearly two fifths of the entire starting line up are above 60%. Those stats should not be surprising. It makes sense, a follow up shot is likely going to be closer and easier to make.
Once diabetes joined me in my life journey, “shot” took a whole new meaning – that burning sting of insulin that kept my life in balance. But either shot, the message should apply “Follow your shot”. Even with the latest technology available to me, I find myself taking my meal time insulin and never looking back. Like the overconfident young basketball player, I just assume it will go in. And what a ridiculous thought that is! With over 40 factors that affect my blood sugar level, what is my field goal percentage likely to be? 30% or 40%?
An average digestion time for a meal is about an hour to 90 minutes and the average peak of your insulin is 90 minutes to two hours. Shouldn’t we follow our shot and check our levels about 90 minutes after a meal? By then we should be a lot closer to our goal so we know whether we need to add a little more food or a little more insulin? What happens when you don’t follow your shot? Well if it doesn’t go in, chances are it has rolled to the complete opposite court or at the pavilion where I grew up…rolled down the hill. Now, rather than a simple put back you are going to wear yourself out chasing after that sugar.
How certain are we that our insulin and food intake are going to match up? Well, it depends on where we are on the court. If we can focus on catching things in and around the rim, then we should hit our goal more often. Call it the Dennis Rodman diabetes management system. Hang around the rim and just keep tipping until it goes in. And let those Steph Curry types keep shooting from mid court.