It’s been 4 months since I started training to be a professional wrestler. Last month was also my 24th diaversary. Yet somehow, even with all those years of experience, I feel like the last four months have taught me more about myself and about my diabetes than ever before.
Nikki Bella describes herself as “fearless” – while I would never consider myself to be scared or weak, the physical trust I now have in my body thanks to wrestling means that I’m more fearless than ever. Taking bumps with conviction, controlling my weight whilst throwing my body into new sequences, running the ropes with reasonable speed and power. It takes time, it takes bruises – there’s no denying that. There’s also still many years of hard work ahead of me to reach the high standards that this business demands. But this is what the evolution has taught me so far:
1. That my tolerance for pain is unnaturally high
2. That my body is stronger than I ever thought it was
3. Team work in wrestling and in diabetes creates less painful (or botched) end results
4. It’s not just about the end result, it’s about the story you’ve lived to tell getting there
5. How much I want to inspire others just like the women wrestlers before me have done
As someone who does not do early mornings, it also proves how resilient I am to get on a bus at 7:30am every Saturday morning before 3 hours of training!
To some friends, family, colleagues and fellow members of the diabetes online community, wrestling isn’t something they understand nor can they see the benefits (well, they do witness and hear about those previously mentioned bruises…). But a recent message on Twitter from a very down-to-earth and well-respected healthcare professional solidified to me the reason that I do this: it isn’t about me, it’s about other people who are handed the challenge of type 1 diabetes and dream of being professional wrestlers (or have any other dreams for that matter).
You read stories of rugby players, athletes, marathon runners, cyclists, triathletes with type 1 diabetes but there are many guys/girls/men/women living with type 1 diabetes who aspire to be wrestlers – I’m merely trying to smooth out the path for them by being the best that I can be.
Kyle O’Reilly is setting the bar incredibly high. He has type 1 diabetes and is signed to one of the bigger independent professional wrestling organisations in the US, Ring of Honour (as well as the likes of New Japan Pro Wrestling). Debuting in 2005, I’ve had the smallest of glimpses into how interesting the last 16+ years must’ve been for him. I tweeted Kyle recently asking if he had any practical advice for wrestling with T1D. His reply: “best of luck, it’s not an easy path!”.
When I hear from healthcare professionals that there are others – that’s right, amongst the 400,000 people with type 1 diabetes in the UK, I’m not the only one with dreams of professional wrestling – it makes me so hopeful and proud. A future Team Diabadass. Given that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes appears to be high in the 0-14 (AKA the Cena generation) and 20-39 (current cohort of trainees) age categories, the revolution is surely only just beginning.
And what’s the dream for me? Celebrating 25 years of defying science and living with type 1 diabetes by making my official wrestling debut (that’s July 2017…not really enough time but I’ll give it everything!). That would be awesome.
But in wrestling and in diabetes, it’s best to take things one step at a time.
Keep powering through 💪🏻
P.s don’t skip leg day. Or I’ll make you tap to the Crushing Thighs Body Scissors 😉