Saturday, 4 June 2011


The funny thing about responsibility is that it always seems to gain more importance and notice when other people are affected.   We are responsible for our self, our own health, our own life, but this important responsibility too often comes second to the responsibilities we have to our family, friends and coworkers.     
An example that comes to mind took place two years ago when I spent the last week of summer with my three best friends at a cottage.  It was the perfect trip. No arguing, lots of laughing, a nice amount of relaxing mixed with adventure and only one rainy day!  The cottage was in the beautiful Canadian wilderness, so a lot of time was spent hiking, kayaking, fishing, swimming and ATV-ing.  ATV-ing might seem out of place in a list filled with peaceful, natural activities, but the ATVs were used to quickly get to the minnow pond to gather fishing bait.  Since there were four of us and only two ATVs, each ATV would have a driver and a passenger.
On one trip back from the minnow pond, I was driving with my best friend Scarlett riding passenger.  We were travelling along a paved road and my friend had told me to keep one set of wheels on the gravel shoulder since ATVs were not meant for pavement. The left side of the road was cottages and the right side was a steep, forested drop into the lake.  We were travelling on the right side, as proper driving protocol requires, and the shoulder on this side was rather slim.  I was trying to keep one set of wheels on this thin shoulder, and a large rock is why I think I failed at doing so.  The accident happened so fast that I’m not too sure of the details, but I think the rock shifted the wheels quickly so that they were no longer pointing straight along the road, they were now pointed to the right- over the steep incline towards the lake and into trees. I remember flying into the forested area, holding on to the ATV as it flipped in the air, realizing I was below it and that I should let go and then laying flat beside Scarlett on a bed of pine needles while the ATV flipped down the incline until it hit a tree and stopped.  My initial instinct was not to check if I was injured, but to turn to Scarlett and start with a steady stream of “Are you ok? Is anything broken? Does anything hurt?”.  I wouldn’t let her stand until I had felt her legs and arms for any protruding bones, for fear she had broken something (I’m not a doctor and I’m not really sure what I would have done if I had found any, but I felt it was important to check before she put weight on any injuries).

By the minnow pond pre-ATV accident
I suppose my worry makes me sound like a good, selfless friend, but what was also at play was that feeling of responsibility (and a lot of adrenaline, nothing like almost dying to get the blood pumping).  I had been driving the ATV, I had launched us into the trees, I had put us in danger, I had almost killed us.  If I was injured, so be it, it was MY fault, but if Scarlett was injured, the fact that it was my fault and not hers would have caused me a lot of grief.  Somehow the stars were shining on us that day, and neither of us were severely injured- Scarlett’s head had been bumped around inside her helmet, the ATV handle had given me a pretty nasty bruise when it dug into my thigh, and we were both covered in scratches, but nothing was broken or even fractured, and we were in good enough shape to go for a 4 hour long hike the same day.
It’s amazing how responsibility for others trumps responsibility for oneself. I’m not saying that I should have first checked to make sure I wasn’t injured before asking Scarlett if she was, but I do think that the strong feeling of responsibility I felt for Scarlett in that instance escapes me when it comes to feeling responsible for myself.  My diabetes affects me more than it affects anyone else and the pressure of taking care of it lies solely on me.  I should experience those strong feelings of responsibility for my diabetes, and they should prevent me from neglecting my diabetes, but somehow it doesn’t seem to work like that.  It doesn’t mean I should be ridden with guilt every time I neglect my diabetes, but I should be conscious that it is my responsibility and my health.  And if it isn’t enough to be responsible to myself, I can always think of all my friends and family who expect me to live a long, happy, healthy life in spite of my diabetes, and employ their support with this complicated disease.

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