Engle has since run across the Sahara desert, among other death-defying feats that go well beyond what could be considered good for the joints. This was not a passing hobby or a way of dropping a few pounds. It was, rather, a purposeful blasting of the body. The running community provided for him fellowship and camaraderie, as it does for many people struggling with addiction. It also helped him realize that he didn’t have to give up being intense and passionate and obsessive; he just needed to channel these features in less destructive ways. “Do I run addictively? I’ve been accused of it,” he said. “But I’ve never lost my car after a run.”
These surgeries, even today, come with significant side effects. People have to be vigilant about getting their needed nutrients, since many aren’t as easily absorbed through food anymore. Other substances are too easily absorbed by the body, particularly drugs like alcohol. This vulnerability can then lead to alcohol abuse and may even help explain the slightly higher rates of suicide and self-harm seen in patients soon after surgery. Also distressing is that an estimated one of every 10 patients will fail to lose weight or regain the weight back in the long term, while others will require additional operations to fix complications like stomach leakages.
"Brittle" diabetes, also known as unstable diabetes or labile diabetes, is a term that was traditionally used to describe the dramatic and recurrent swings in glucose levels, often occurring for no apparent reason in insulin-dependent diabetes. This term, however, has no biologic basis and should not be used. Still, type 1 diabetes can be accompanied by irregular and unpredictable high blood sugar levels, frequently with ketosis, and sometimes with serious low blood sugar levels. Other complications include an impaired counterregulatory response to low blood sugar, infection, gastroparesis (which leads to erratic absorption of dietary carbohydrates), and endocrinopathies (e.g., Addison's disease). These phenomena are believed to occur no more frequently than in 1% to 2% of persons with type 1 diabetes.
The other way to make such things accessible is to inundate attendees with advertising—which can undermine the concept by making us feel inadequate without this product or that, rather than by affirming our wholeness. Poolside, Hoess told me that he believes there can still be profit in a less consumerist direction, but that it’s necessary to “redefine capitalism to where it’s not just about pure profit, it’s also about social profit. If we can merge those things, I think business becomes a force for good.”
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.