Sailing With Diabetes


Erin Spineto is a sailor, surfer and triathlete living in San Diego. In the spring of 2011 she completed a four day solo sail through the Florida Keys to raise awareness and support for IN. Her story, as she puts it on the “about me” section of her own blog:

I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes my sophomore year in college.  Diabetes is kind of like a thermostat for your house that is broken.  You want your house to be between 68 and 73 at all times.  When it gets too cold, the heat comes on.  When it gets too hot the AC comes on to cool it off.  Your body wants you to have between 80 and 120 mmol of sugar for every deciliter of blood.  Too little and your liver pumps out sugar.  Too high and your pancreas pumps out insulin to put the extras into your muscle and fat cells. My pancreas decided not to do that any longer.  So I have to play thermostat to a very sensitive and life-threatening system.  For 14 years I did it alone.  Every problem that came up, I had to fix alone.  Every time I wanted to try out a new activity, I had to figure out how it would affect my highly tuned system of regulating blood sugars all by myself.
          After 12 years of going it alone, I was ready to quit.  That was when I met the guys at Insulindependence.  They knew the power in getting diabetics together to strategize and to share all of their strategies with each other.  And they knew the power of challenging us with new activities and adventures.  After spending time with other diabetics as we surfed and snorkeled and ran and trained for triathlons, I once again had the strength to keep on fighting this chronic disease.  But I realized that most of the 23 million diabetics living in America had no access to a network like Insulindependence.  I wanted to help them reach more people and get the word out.  So I decided to couple my passion for sailing with a fundraising idea.  I would sail alone (something some outdated doctors once told me I would never be able to do) for four days through the Florida Keys to raise awareness and to raise funds so that Insulindependence can help other diabetics gain the strength that comes from sharing your struggles with others.

In one of her earliest personal blog posts, Erin explained why she was bothering with the whole blogging thing:

“I have found a voice for all that I have learned through diabetes, to share with those just starting out on this journey. A voice to speak all that has built up inside my mind over the past thirteen years.  A voice to speak of the friendships that last a lifetime and shape who you are and how you live.  And now that I have found a voice for all that’s been running around in my head, my mind is finally free enough to take on new challenges, to actively pursue those pipe dreams that have been my escape when I wasn’t able to speak; to sail off into the sunset.”

Now she’s at work on a memoir reflecting on the sailor’s life with diabetes. We get it. She gets it. Reflecting and writing and sharing our stories about living with diabetes is important. Connect with Erin by following her posts on A Diabetic Sailor’s Logbook and “liking” her page on Facebook. 



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