Spirit’s diabetes crew pulled together on voyage

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  • <B>Quazori Brangman</B>, 13, mans the helm of the <I>Spirit of Bermuda</I> during the Sailing the Spirit on Insulin trip.

    Quazori Brangman, 13, mans the helm of the Spirit of Bermuda during the Sailing the Spirit on Insulin trip.
    ((Photo by Mark Tatem))

  • ((Photo by Mark Tatem) The crew from Sailing)

The Spirit of Bermuda returned to Albuoys Point yesterday afternoon with a crew of 12 young people aged 13 to 37-years-old who all have type 1 diabetes.

Bermuda Diabetes Association funded the event with a purpose of allowing those with type 1 diabetes to experience new confidence in their ability to self manage their disease.

The five-day voyage began on July 1. As the youngest crew member Quazori Brangman, 13, docked the boat successfully to a warm welcome from friends and family.

Lakai Dill, an educator with the Bermuda Diabetes Association, was proud of the crew upon their return.

“The purpose of the trip was to have them push beyond their comfort zones into physically and mentally and experience new environments. It was a social retreat for them and gave them a chance to manage their diabetes in challenging environments.”

She explained the crew stayed on the Spirit most of the voyage, except for a two-hour excursion each day including snorkelling in Whale Bone Bay, hiking, and swimming in various parts of the Island.

“They slept on the ship, and had most of their experience on the ship,” she continued. “I absolutely loved seeing the initiative these young people show when they step up to the challenges they face. What they’ve accomplished is not easy. Seeing them do the work of a full time crew just warms my heart.”

Among the crew was Michal Russell, 22, who enjoyed the experience.

“The trip was fantastic,” he said. “At first I really wasn’t feeling it, but you’re on a boat, so let’s just get this thing done — and things got easier as they went,” he said, looking over the Spirit of Bermuda. “Having to deal with low blood sugar levels was difficult, but I pushed through that and blisters from the handling ropes as well.”

Mr Russell continued to explain one of the challenges he experienced and overcame.

“On the last day my blood sugar levels dropped to 26, when they are normally supposed to be between 80 and 120,” he said. “Everyone reacts differently to that, but for me I got irritable and had to conquer that. We all did what we needed to do and the ship did what it needed to do as a result.”

Sara McKittrick, Diabetes Educator with the Bermuda Diabetes Association, arrived with the crew on the vessel.

“This trip was designed for people with type 1 diabetes,” she said. “The needed to learn how to work as a team, relying on each other in different situations.

“They worked well together, looked out for each other’s blood sugar levels.”

She explained the crew had conducted blood sugar level checks before activities and throughout each night while balancing a busy schedule.

Annabelle Fountain, endocrinologist and deputy chair of the Bermuda Diabetes Association, was also on the voyage.

“Seeing these young people overcome the challenges presented to them was truly inspiring,” she said. “Half of them are my patients and inspire me already on how well they take care of themselves, so seeing their confidence rise and their teamwork was incredible,” she said.

“Just imagine doing the work on a regular basis, then try to imagine doing that work while have type one diabetes.”

Dr Fountain recalled one moment throughout the voyage that would last a lifetime. “On the last night we did blood sugar level checks at 2.30am and one of the children helped me do it by checking their peers levels and took total responsibility. They really did look after each other on that boat.”

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Published Jul 6, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 5, 2013 at 9:49 pm)

Spirit’s diabetes crew pulled together on voyage

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