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The Lowdown -

1. What were some of your initial struggles with having diabetes?

I definitely struggled with low blood sugars the most. Because I was diagnosed so early on, my body still made some insulin just not the right amounts. So usually I would go high, my body would realize I needed insulin, it would give me way too much, and I would crash. It was definitely hard to regulate for a while.

2. Is there a story that comes to mind where you realized that having diabetes is really hard?

When I was 12 I started to notice some changes in my diabetes. Up until then I was taking little to no insulin which made me feel almost like I didn't have the disease. Until one night I tested my blood sugar and it was over 400! I knew my extended honeymoon phase had come to an end and that I was going to need insulin fast. I went to the endo and they started me on mealtime insulin; I had very low body weight and a higher A1C (7.4). It really felt like I was being diagnosed all over again! I started taking more insulin and testing more often and I finally started to realize how hard it all was and how lucky I was, getting to have such an easy first few years (even though at the time it didn’t feel easy at all!).

3. What are some struggles that you still experience now?

I have always struggled with type 1 and sports. Pre-game/race anxiety always makes my blood sugar spike then crash. I don't even really remember running my first race because my sugar crashed so bad. Everytime I think I've figured it out (the right foods, blood sugars, times of day), diabetes goes “PSYCH!” and does something completely different than normal! It’s an ongoing learning process.

4. How have you dealt with these struggles?

A whole lot of trial and error! Diabetes is a really difficult disease to manage and treat correctly and I’m always trying new ways to keep myself in as tight control as possible. Another thing is just reminding myself that I'm going to have hard days and I'm not any worse of a diabetic or athlete because I had a bad day. Trying to have a positive attitude is honestly one the best ways to cope with diabetes struggles.

Stay tuned for next week's installment of our December Spotlight, Damage Control

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High & Dry -

1. Tell us about your diagnosis - what were your symptoms, how did you feel, did you know something was wrong?

My diagnosis was different from most people's. My parents started noticing some changes in me and immediately started doing research. I was having episodes where I felt “shaky” right before a meal or after I hadn't eaten for a while and also had an ER visit a few months before where I had sugar in my urine (even though my blood sugar was in range at that time). I was always tired and having “shaky” episodes almost every day, but because my A1C was only slightly elevated (“pre-diabetic” at 6.1) the doctors said I was ok. So, my mom bought a glucose meter and the next time I didn't feel good she tested my sugar, it was low! I then got an appointment set up with an endocrinologist who did lots of tests including antibody testing and glucose tolerance test. She told me I had type 1 diabetes. Because it was caught so early on I didn't go into DKA and wasn’t even put on meal time insulin! My body still was making some insulin, so I was put on a couple units of long acting insulin and that was it.

2. What was your reaction when you found out you had diabetes?

I was really sad when I was diagnosed, not so much about the fact that I had it now, but that I was going to have to live with it for the rest of my life. I was also scared because, like any 9 year old, I hated needles! The thought of having to take them every day was terrifying to me!

3. How was your transition from the hospital to going home?

I didn't stay in the hospital, but on my way home from the endo after diagnosis my blood sugar crashed, hard. I remember asking my mom if it was ok that I was spilling my snack in my dad’s car. I didn't realize I was low so by the time I got home my blood sugar was in the 40s. That was my first low officially being a diabetic and it was much more scary than the others because I really knew what it meant to have low blood sugar and how much of a problem it could be. So basically the transition for me was just realizing how scary everything actually was. (I was having lows without insulin because my failing pancreas was trying to overcorrect for the spikes in blood sugar I was having.)

4. How did life change in those first few months?

The first few months everything still felt so new and strange to me. I knew the basics, but compared to what I know now, I knew nothing. I started carrying my supplies on me, something that to this day I still hate having to do. My mom helped me write and present my first speech about diabetes to my very curious class where I told them everything I knew about it. I also had to immediately start learning how to manage my sugars and sports (something I'm still learning today) because I was diagnosed while training for my first 5K. It’s so weird when you go from being a kid with no responsibilities to having to keep yourself alive all the time, and of course my parents helped me with the majority of the work but it was still a lot of pressure!

Stay tuned for next week's installment of our December Spotlight, The Lowdown

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Damage Control -

1. What are some ways that you have responded to the hard times when dealing with diabetes?

For me, the hard times have mostly been the highs and lows and the correct way to respond with that is either the correct amount of insulin or the correct amount of glucose. But other than highs and lows, the toughest thing I had to handle was using my equipment in a public setting. I was already a shy kid but this taught me to toughen up because it had to be done. So I worked my way through it and now I do not care what people think. I just go along with what I have to do.

2. How have you become stronger because of diabetes?

I have always thought of myself as a tough kid, with a pretty tough go of it already, diabetes taught me responsibility as I was on my own a lot in high school. I think my attitude toward life has changed because I have developed a nothing can kill me attitude.

3. What have you learned about yourself through dealing with diabetes?

I have learned that I can do a whole lot more with what I have and I cannot be slowed down.

4. Is there a story that comes to mind when you think about how you are taking

control of diabetes?

Every Thanksgiving! This thanksgiving was easily my best thanksgiving numbers wise. On Wednesday we had dinner at my aunts and my number was 113. Before I ate, I took the desired amount of insulin and ate 20 minutes later so the insulin could kick in. Immediately after I ate I took another dose of insulin for dessert so It would not climb too high. Unfortunately it got up to around 300 but slowly and steadily came down to a comfortable range. Thanksgiving day was the same story. I took my insulin 20 minutes before I ate and after I ate I walked around since I was so bloated and waited for my number to settle. Then I took more insulin for dessert and my number scraped 200 and is now at a perfect 105!

Stay tuned for next week's installment of our November Spotlight, Calling the Shots.

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