For all of my adventuring around the world, I’m a fan of following tradition, even if it doesn’t always seem to make sense. St. Patrick's Day is a holiday laden with tradition, but for me, the green holiday holds a different kind of significance.
Over the last few years, I've developed a tradition of doing a fun and exciting thing (or just anything out of the ordinary) each year around my "diaversary"--the anniversary of when I was diagnosed with type 1, which falls on St. Patrick's Day (March 17th). Why does it often end up being something really dramatic? Because doing something challenging and fun that coincides with commemorating a diagnosis of something challenging and not always 100% fun makes the situation a little bit better, I think! Past diaversaries have involved celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, Ireland, celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Boston, and heliskiing in the Italian Alps.
This year’s St. Patrick's Day diaversary challenge had been on my New Zealand bucket list for a while. Since I’ve already checked off skydiving, snorkeling, visiting Milford Sound and Stewart Island and seeing some amazing things, I was starting to get anxious that I might not have time to...bungee jump. When I hinted that I wanted to bungee (bungee, as the Kiwis say) jump, the family I work for immediately said “We want to watch you bungee jump!” So it was settled.
However, I admittedly hesitated about paying for it; my sensible inclinations haunted me for a while. When it came down to it, though, throwing myself off a bridge over the Kawarau Gorge near Queenstown seemed like the ideal follow-up to last year’s heliskiing trip, so I talked myself into it.
Enjoy the video (linked below) and my exceptionally long scream...of joy. It was fun! My host family, for whom I'm an au pair, were generous enough to do all the worrying for me, because I really had zero butterflies the whole time. I just really wanted to do it! I only got nervous when I had to pretty much walk the plank with my ankles velcroed together. Then the guy said, “Okay, I’m holding on to you, which means you can let go of the bridge.” Oops. And then I jumped!
If you told me I was going to do this during those times when diabetes felt like it was seriously kicking me while I was down, I wouldn’t have listened. Anyone who's been there knows that a time of less work and more fun seems impossibly far away. In fact, I think my mom has basically predicted me tackling such things as bungee jumps, despite her worrying about me doing them. I do feel incredibly, indescribably tired sometimes--when the weight of the word "chronic" feels so heavy. To quote the 3-year-old I babysit when he had a tantrum in the car last week: “I. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. LIVE. LIKE. THIS. ANY. MORE.”
Then, all of a sudden I blink and here I am tied to this bridge by a piece of elastic, looking out over the bluest water I’ve ever seen, with these lovely people who care about me watching me on the sidelines, and I get this rush of adrenaline and all of the work that goes into all of the living is all worth it.
Katie's Bungee Jump Video
A version of this article was previously published on Where in the World is Katie Doyle? in March 2015.