Writing why you love someone is difficult to describe. Writing why someone inspires you however, for some reason I find easier. Perhaps it is because we can pin exact moments in time where we have been in awe of their actions and strength throughout our lives. The person who inspires me is James Vaughn.
James Vaughn, my dad, was born in Massachusetts with a clean bill of health. Went to school leading his football team, hockey team and causing trouble like any east coast boarding school boy would. When he moved out to Colorado for college - much to the horror of my grandmother - he continued to play lacrosse, hockey and met my mother.
One day after a terrible flu, he went to the doctor after not feeling any better. The doctor referred him to another doctor, who referred him to another doctor, and he found himself eating a milkshake the night before a fasting blood sugar test. You see he had been referred to the Joslin Diabetes Center and was to undergo treatment for what they had suspected was Type 1 Diabetes.
Those of you who have knowledge of diabetes would see the red flag in the last paragraph. Upon arriving at the Joslin, they checked his blood sugar and about five minutes later ran into his waiting room with a crash cart, white knuckling the entire way.
You see, after eating a milkshake the night before his fast his blood sugars had spiked to over 800. (Normal blood sugar levels are between 70-140). To this realization the doctor said to him "Son, come with us quickly, for you have no medical reason to be conscious."
Today when my father tells this story, he always has a smile on his face - however let me assure you James Vaughn was not laughing then.
Upon receiving a full diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes he learned that his body was no longer his own. At the Joslin he learned he would need to draw his own blood to monitor his blood sugar, stick himself with a needle to inject insulin or intake glucose, watch everything he ate/drank, and basically change his entire life.
Growing up never had to worry about my father's disease. Honestly typing that it is a "disease" is odd to me as it was always just a way of life. Dad was always on top of his blood sugars, monitored them carefully, sometimes he couldn't have a piece of cake at the end of dinner and had to go for a run because "his sugars were too high," but I never really thought much about it.
As I got older and learned more about diabetes I realized how foolish I had been, here was this man who not only had to provide for his family, but was an expert at hiding. Hiding the scars on his fingers from the many times he had to prick his fingers, hiding his delirium when he had a reaction and his blood sugars dipped too low, hiding the anxiety of constantly thinking "when can I eat, how much extra food/glucose/test strips/needles should I bring," fighting with health insurance to make sure he had what he needed - to SURVIVE, emergency runs to the supermarket for orange juice, and all the while acting like everything was completely normal. Hiding that if he mismanaged his disease he risked untold complications (kidney failure, amputation, loss of eyesight etc). All the while doing so- to not "worry" us.
As I mentioned, my father grew up playing sports. Constantly running, he inspired me once again by completing a Boston Marathons, two Columbus Marathons, and numerous triathlons. A marathon in itself is a feat - but a marathon as a diabetic is another story. Ensuring your body has enough fuel, regulating your blood sugar, and making sure your providing your body with what it needs - all while running a race is a lot. While training he would contact local neighbors to see if they would let him hide water and orange juice in mailboxes- so he could count on fuel at certain points along the run.
I remember watching him run The Boston Marathon and when we saw him he was smiling - but his legs had started to cramp, he was having trouble as his. If you ask him about that race he'd say "oh it was my worst race," but to me, it was the day I realized one day I wanted to run a marathon.
If my father could run this race (numerous times by the way), push through everything everyone said his body "shouldn't" be able to do. Then why couldn't I? Why couldn't I run in honor of the man who has inspired me, pushed me and motivated me to be a better person?
I want to run for him to show the world, even if you’re great at hiding something, doesn't mean it isn't hard. For all those times he had to go to the bathroom to take his blood sugar at restaurants, wake up in the middle of the night because his sugars were too high, or just not feel well after a meal. Diabetes is still a disease and I want to help fight it for my dad.
Those of you who know me well know I've tried to run a marathon a few times in past. Cancelations and injury have kept me from my goal. But this year is different.
I don't have diabetes, but my Dad does.
I am running for my Dad. I am running for my inspiration.
Please help me run for the JDRF New York City Marathon Team by showing your support with a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Let’s inspire someone else by fighting diabetes together.