Sunday, February 17

The times they are a-changin'

I know it's been awhile since I have posted and I am sorry, but I have been a little conflicted. I love blogging and I love writing about things that happen in my life, but I always feel guilty writing about random things on a blog called 'the beautiful diabetic'. I feel like I should be writing things about diabetes. And, to be honest, I feel like diabetes is such a small part of who I am, that I feel CONFINED. Heart disease is a much more pressing matter for me. I could rename the blog 'Long Qt girl', but again, it's only a small part.

The sad part is, i LOVE the name. The Beautiful Diabetic. Here is what I wrote on my very first blog entry:

"I didn't decide on the name out of vanity and strong conviction of my beauty. I decided on the name because I am tired of disease marking people as 'flawed' or 'weak' or 'sad' or 'dying'. I decided on the name after living with disease throughout the last decade. After watching an UGLY disease kill my little sister, who truly was beautiful. After realizing that I have spent too many years at war with this thing called my body. Calling it names that are ugly and spiteful. No more. I am diabetic and I am beautiful. Therefore I am the beautiful diabetic. I expect those words to love each other. To be what my mother always called 'Fast Friends'. To wrap around each other in a warm embrace, like two things that were always meant to be, but were always somehow kept apart. A homecoming of sorts. Where diabetic will say to beautiful- 'At last!' And beautiful will say to diabetic- 'It's so good to see you!' And two words who have been kept apart, will fall together naturally, and suddenly the beautiful diabetic will have taken flight."

Isn't that poetic and nice? To me it was. It just RESONATED within me.
So, I don't know what to do. Can I keep on being JUST the beautiful diabetic, when I feel like there is so much more? Is it just me? Is the name not that big of a deal?
Maybe I can just call it 'the beautiful' and leave it at that.

So, here is one of those beautiful moments of my life that I have been thinking about lately.

One of the highlights in my life thus far happened in the summer of 2002. I was in Japan with my mom, aunt and cousin. We took the bullet train from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji. We got to Fuji-san (as the locals call it), and it just so happened that we were there in the middle of the few weeks that it is open for climbers. Well, for some reason, Megan and I thought it would be a good idea to climb it. Why not, right??

In hindsight, there were MANY reasons NOT to. However, those eluded me at the time. I was engulfed by the challenge of it all. I was standing at the base of Mt. Fuji! THE Mt. Fuji!!! I was flooded with emotions. My little sister had recently died. I had had my first heart surgery and I was angry at my body. I was angry at many things, and it felt as though I had something to PROVE. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do ANYTHING despite the betrayal of my body and my bad heart. So, the combination of Mt. Fuji and a girl with a dead sister and a flawed heart seemed like a match made in heaven.

My mother protested. I could not be swayed. So,she and my aunt returned to Tokyo with hugs and tears and the promise that we would meet them tomorrow.

So, here is the scene. Climbing this sucker was not planned. Apparantly, if you intend to climb a mountain, it's best to prepare and do a little research and planning. There is a list of things you need, we had a total of ZERO of those things. To help you understand my idiocy, here is a visual of mountain climbing Kathryn:
White linen shirt under a pair of blue jean overalls topped with a stylish black cashmere sweater. I had on thin socks and a pair of running shoes. OH, and for some reason I had a red bandana. Oh yea, sounds like I was really prepared. We bought rain slickers, gloves and walking sticks in the supply shop and started our climb.

It was actually pretty easy. At first.

We met people from all over on the mountain. The higher we got, the vistas became increasingly beautiful. 5 hours into it, I was cold, I was exhausted, I was in pain, but I was determined. I would pick a place in the distance and tell myself that I just had to make it to that point and then I could quit. I would get to a point and I would suddenly look beyond it and see other mountains below it, and I would be flooded with emotion. I kept thinking about my sister and how she would NEVER have the chance to do this, to see this...and I wept.

I wept as I climbed. I wept as I thought of Courtney and a life without her. I wept as I yelled at God for taking her and I wept as I thanked Him for the grace and mercy He gave to survive it. It was a mess of emotions. It was intense, but I continued.

It was really stupid to be there in the first place, but as night fell, we were halfway to the summit. They say you should climb halfway, sleep for a few hours in a mountain hut, get up at 2am and continue to the summit to be there in time for sunrise. The Japanese call it 'Buddah's Halo'.

In this hut we met 3 older Japenese men. They met every year to climb Fuji-san. By the end of the night, they had adopted us. My Japanese grandfather was called Shimnee. I think he could tell instantly that I would need help. Megan went on at a olympic pace with the other two old men, and Shimnee stayed behind with me, the obvious weak link.

As we climbed in the darkness, we shared stories. I told him about my sister and he was silent and understanding when I cried. He told me about his life and his wife and children. We were moving slow. It was hard to breath at that altitude.

But I was determined.

I was having to stop alot. I was freezing and Megan had mercifully given me her coat that she just happened to have. I kept sitting on big boulders along the trail and Shimnee would admonish me and say 'No Katrin-san, you must rest standing style. No sit.' It was a race.

I NEEDED to be there at sun rise.

It was so quiet on the mountain. I could hear a clanking noise and I turned to look and there was a snake of lights wrapping down the mountain. The noise was the swaying of lanterns. There were hundreds of people making their way to the top. It was a stunning image, pitch black on the side of Mt. Fuji with hundreds of flickering pin pricks of light. All of these people going to the top. I seriously doubted I could finish. I hurt EVERYWHERE.

And then I heard my name being called. It was Megan and she was smiling and waving. She had made it to the top. The sun was getting ready to appear and Shimnee put his hand on my back and said 'We finish now', and with that, I took a deep breath, and with everything in me, I climbed that mountain. Megan and the other 2 old men were cheering me on, Shimnee was right by me silently willing me to continue. I was so close and I was STILL crying and then, I WAS THERE!

I was on the top of Mt. Fuji! I did it! I was totally overwhelmed. I was hugging Megan and Shimnee and the other men and everyone was doing a little half bow thing and then it happened. A collective 'OOOhhhh' spread across the summit.

It was like a crack in the steel grey sky. Like fire and light had just cut through the darkness. Then the sun rose in all its glory and it took my breath away and I wept again. But this time, I felt new. I felt cleansed. I felt STRONG. It was in that moment that Megan called me again and said 'Smile!! You did it!'

I did it.

One agonizing step at a time, I climbed a mountain and a part of me was reborn:


SpaceyMom said...

Can I keep on being JUST the beautiful diabetic, when I feel like there is so much more? Is it just me? Is the name not that big of a deal?

You should keep the title and write about whatever you want.

I had the same struggle when I started my blog. I ended up not posting because I felt every post had to be about my diabetes. Then last year I said to heck with it, this is about me, not *just* my diabetes. So far no one has complained. :)

Great job on climbing the mountain!

Amylia said...

What a feat!

What a story!

What a woman you are!

What a poetic writer!

And amazing cook...

And climber...

And a million more things.

I love your blog and you can call it whatever you want.

Of course, we are all so much MORE than our limitations or our diseases.

Oh how I love your explanation of your name.

Donna said...

Kathryn - This story is such an inspiration! You are such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your life with us.

Patty said...

I've only recently started reading diabetic blogs and to be honest, I've lost interest in nearly all of them because that's all they're about: diabetes. Then I found your blog and read a lot of it and I enjoyed it, whether you wrote about diabetes or not. And, when I read that you had made marshmallows, I decided you were my kind of diabetic. :) So I'll keep coming back, no matter what you're posting. As for climbing Mt Fuji, color me impressed. :)

Kathryn said...

Thanks everyone!
you guys are awesome!

i do believe I shall keep the name!

Meghan said...

I hadn't been to your blog in a LONG time, I think, because the last time I checked you hadn't posted anything new in awhile. I decided to come over and check on you and lo and behold you've TONS of new posts.

This one in particular made me weep.

Gave me chills in a good way.

I hope you are well dear heart.