Mike Fisher, Competitive Snowboarder

Mike Fisher is a 23-year-old from Ontario, Canada, who’s been snowboarding since he was 13 years old. At the age of 18, he was involved in a motorcycle crash that necessitated the amputation of one leg below the knee. He says, “At first, I felt that my life was coming to a crashing halt. But I just pushed myself to recover as fast as possible and get my life back on track, go to school, get back into snowboarding and motorcycles-just anything so that my life wasn’t affected at all. I had a lot of support, and I would say that I was pretty optimistic about it and took it almost as a challenge. By the time that I was 19, I was happy. I was walking again, I was back in college in London, Ontario, and everything was good. The accident was a minor setback to me, and I rose above it. I was just continuing with my life.”

“In May 2007, I was learning about the signs of diabetes in my health class, and I told my best friend in school, ‘I have a lot of those symptoms.’ So I went to the doctor and got tested. Everything seemed to be fine, but then I got an infection in my leg that wasn’t healing properly, so my grandma tested my blood sugar, and it was crazy high. I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with diabetes on Mother’s Day.”

“It really bummed me out. I thought, ‘I’ve already been in an accident, and I’ve gotten my life back on track, but now here’s another big step back to slow me down. One bad thing has already happened to me, why does something else have to happen to me too?’ I could deal with the first one, but number two really affected me. It was hard to climb the second mountain.”

“But again, I drew support from friends and family who were telling me ‘you can overcome this. You’ve done it once and you can do it again.’ So I accepted the challenge. I thought, ‘I can be upset, I can sit at home and be depressed about it, or I can go out and continue to live my life.’ I wouldn’t let it slow me down. I just knew that I had to take care of myself, and I had to keep pushing through.”

Mike is currently a professional snowboarder on the Canadian Para-Snowboarding National Team. He competes in an event called snowboard cross, which is like motocross on snowboards, with four people racing each other down a course at one time. His next goal is to be in the 2014 Paralympic Games in Russia.

“I’ve worn an Animas insulin pump for three years now,” Mike says. “I’m always training, I’m always snowboarding, and I’m always on the road, so I test my blood at least ten times a day. It may seem a little excessive, but when you’re traveling and always pushing your body to the limit, I think it’s completely necessary. My A1Cs are usually in the 6.5% range, which is pretty good. A lot of it is all trial and error; once I figured out what my body’s like, I’ve been doing pretty well. I have thought about getting a CGM, but I’m leaving it to the summer when I’m not so busy and always on the hill.”

Mike says, “When your sugars are not in range when you’re training or competing, you’re just not getting the best results out of your body. If you are in range, it’s one less thing you have to worry about. Testing myself on the hill, if I’m in range, I’m like, ‘Perfect, I’m good to go, let’s do this.’ But if I’m going to race and my sugars are high or low, my number one thought is ‘I’ve got to fix my sugars’ instead of focusing on my race.”

Once his professional career is over, Mike says, “I will fall back on the career that I went to school in, which is developmental services-working with people who have physical and developmental disabilities, supporting them through their everyday lives, and helping them achieve their goals. When I got in my accident, I was in architecture, but then when I did all my rehab, I changed my career path because of it.”

“I’ve had injuries through snowboarding, but compared to my accident and diabetes, everything else is minor to me now. Last year I suffered from my eleventh concussion, and I just thought, ‘Whatever- I’ll heal.’ I’m absolutely a different person now because of these things that have happened to me. I think I’m definitely a stronger person because of them, and my outlook on life is completely different. Instead of plugging along through life, I wake up every day and I’m happy to be alive, happy that I’m healthy, happy that I can get out of bed every day. The small things like that, like getting up and walking downstairs, I don’t take for granted. When I get to go up the hill and go snowboarding every day, I definitely don’t take that for granted.”

“Basically, it doesn’t matter what happens in your life or the cards that you’re dealt. You can achieve your dreams; pretty much-you can do whatever you want to do. I know that there are setbacks in life, but then again, that is life. That’s what happens sometimes, and you’ve got to rise to the challenges of it. It’s how you respond to the setbacks that makes your life and makes you who you are.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.