I was 3 years old when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I started drinking a lot of water. My personal best was 25 glasses of water in a single day. Luckily, our next door neighbor was a nurse and when my mom told her how much water I was drinking she said that sounds like diabetes. My mom decided to take me to the doctor a couple of days later to rule out diabetes and within 5 minutes they checked my ketones which indicated excess sugar in my urine. Then, I had my very first blood sugar check which read over 500 mg/dL – which isn’t good. The blessing is that I was drinking water which flushed the extra sugar out of my blood. If I had been drinking juice, it could have been much worse. I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and spent the next 3 days at St. Paul Children’s Hospital. From that day on, my life was changed and it has affected me in many ways.
As a Type 1 diabetic, I have to test my blood sugar every time I eat, drive, exercise, as well as I have to manage what I eat. Examples are shown throughout my daily routine that someone without diabetes wouldn’t think twice about. When I eat, I have to test my blood sugar, count my carbohydrates, and inject insulin. Before I drive, I have to test my blood sugar. During sports, I have to constantly monitor my blood sugar because exercise causes my body to use insulin more effectively causing my blood sugar to drop. When that happens I feel light headed, my legs get weak and I am in danger of passing out. In order to keep this from happening, I have to proactively manage it. For example, I am a quarterback and before football games, I am managing from the time I get up in the morning to the end of the game. I actually have a pre-game routine that I follow each game day. I intentionally plan to eat a Jimmy John’s sandwich because I know how it affects my blood sugar. In addition, I work with our athletic trainer to manage my blood sugar during the game. If I do not count my carbs or put in the right amount of insulin it can lead to my blood sugar being very high or very low. As a result, I am unable to perform to my normal capabilities. Many of my teammates have noticed this as well. When I am low, I cannot practice until my blood sugar returns to normal levels. This is why sometimes I am off to the side during practice. These lows also affect my cognitive ability which negatively impacts my ability to make quick decisions during games. However, not everything about diabetes has been bad. I am able to drink juice boxes daily. One time I received a medical pass at Universal Studios that allowed me to go directly to the front of every line because of my diabetes. I am still able to do most of the things that I would do if I didn’t have diabetes and I am proud that I have been able to play three sports through high school and manage my type 1 at the same time.
What I learned as an Athlete: I learned that I had to work smart instead of just working hard for hours. Because of my diabetes, I could not just play sports for hours straight like my friends. I had to be able to get my work done in about 2 hours because my body can’t sustain long periods of physical activity. Sometimes even less than that. This made me figure out what I needed to work on and find the best way to go about improving.
How I apply it to my life: I apply this to my life by trying to find the smartest way to do things. Whether it is chores around the house or studying for a test, I try and focus on the things I need to do to get better in the shortest amount of time.