Over the weekend, I jumped out a plane. I didn’t mean to – it was completely unplanned. I had intended to go cherry picking while my husband went sky diving, returning just in time to see and photograph him landing safely. But as he was checking-in for his adventure, the lovely woman passing him some paperwork said to me ‘Do you want to jump?’ and inexplicably, I heard myself saying ‘Yes. Yes I do.’
Wait? What? I was meant to be picking cherries!
Instead, I found myself at 12,000 feet above the ground in a tiny Cessna, strapped to and sitting on the lap of a young man I’d met only half an hour earlier. We traded in clichés: ‘How long have you been doing this for?’ I asked him. ‘Today is my first day,’ he joked (I think…I hope…). ‘Shouldn’t you have bought me dinner first?’ I said as he strapped himself very tightly to me, pressing his body hard up against mine. Oh, how we laughed! Considering he was about to push himself out of a plane with me strapped to his front, we were very relaxed and chilled!
Let me tell you what jumping out of a plane does to ones blood glucose levels.
Just before I got out of the car – where the highest I planned to get for the day was up a ladder in a cherry orchard – my BGL was sitting nicely around 7.0mmol/l. Quite good, I thought, considering I’d eaten a lime brulee doughnut a mere 50 minutes earlier.
Just before I climbed into the plane to fly into the sky and then hurtle to the ground, my BGL had crept up to 12mmol/l. I gave myself a correction bolus before disconnecting my pump and leaving it on the ground.
I have no idea how high my BGL got, but I suspect that if I had checked the moment I was sitting half out of the plane, with my legs hanging somewhat lifelessly over the edge of the step, about to tumble into the sky, free-falling to the ground at around 200 kilometres an hour, it would have been stratospheric and my meter would have expoded!
When I got to the ground and finished screaming with absolute, unabashed joy, and jumping up and down, and high-fiving anyone near me, I checked again to see a nice 17.9mmol/l.
I was running on pure adrenaline. I could feel the blood pulsing through my veins, the bright blue sky was vivid, people’s voices were crystal clear. It was as though my senses had all been heightened and I was feeling everything with an increased, crisp intensity. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Apart from being interested in my BGLs, diabetes was completely insignificant in this little adventure. I filled in a few forms, one of them asking the requisite medical questions. I told the woman behind the counter that I have type 1 diabetes and use a pump. ‘Disconnect it and leave it with me,’ she said. ‘Same with your meter. Just check your sugars before you jump.’ I must have looked surprised. ‘A friend has diabetes. She’s jumped heaps of times. But never with her pump – she leaves it with me. They are worth a bit, aren’t they?’
I have never had a burning desire to sky dive; it’s not been on my bucket list – actually, I don’t even really have a bucket list. So perhaps because I hadn’t been thinking about it for years, I didn’t really have any expectations. I know deciding to do it was simply a spur of the moment decision – I wasn’t doing it to prove anything or to feel like a daredevil. It was just something to do because I was there at that moment.
I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t scared. I just was. I hear all the time that people do things like this to shake up their lives or when they feel they are in some sort of rut. Was that why I did it?
As I was floating back to the ground, I thought about what I had just done and I realised that perhaps I hadn’t jumped to escape any feelings of boredom. I was not doing it to distance myself from feeling I was in a rut. I was jumping, and now floating, towards something. Towards my life. A life where, if I decided to, I would – and could – jump out of a plane. A life where nothing stopped me from doing things out of the ordinary; not even diabetes could stop me!
We headed to a cherry farm later the day. But picking our own fruit sounded like too much work, so we just walked up to the packing shed and bought a couple of kilos to take home with us. ‘I was going to pick my own,’ I said to the woman at the farm. ‘But instead I jumped out of a plane.’
I heard how strange that sounded and laughed, popping a cherry into my mouth. I had just jumped out of a plane. I had just jumped out of a plane.
If you are looking for somewhere to go cherry picking around the Yarra Valley, I suggest you head to Lanidale Orchard in Wandin. Awesome cherries and friendly staff.