Conrad woke up excited on September 27, 2014—the day of JDRF One Walk Boston—but his knee was still swollen and painful as it had been on and off for several weeks. We told him he could rest and skip the Walk, but Conrad insisted on participating. So we set out for the DCR Hatch Shell where he happily met up with friends from school, from his three soccer teams, and from camp. He limped and hopped his way through the entire 5K Walk without complaint.
We didn’t know then that it was Lyme disease that had swelled Conrad’s knee joint and had caused him intense pain. Thankfully, he was cured of the Lyme with a month-long course of strong antibiotics. But Conrad still has to manage his type 1 diabetes every day with our help.
That fall we put a lot of thought into the design of the turquoise and electric yellow t-shirts for the Walk. A soccer player kicking type 1 diabetes off the planet is featured on the back of the shirt. Conrad and his friends wore them proudly, and so did a group of more than 10 teenage girls, invited by Conrad’s then 15-year-old sister, Natalia.
As a family, we have tried to make the best of life with type 1. Natalia has helped Conrad test and bolus for years now, especially when their parents are out. Conrad’s mother, Susan, recently published a short piece that conveys the experience of parenting a child with type 1. Bruce, Conrad’s Dad, has taken up coaching soccer to monitor Conrad more closely, and has expanded his medical research to improve treatments for type 1. His laboratory at MGH was recently awarded grants from both JDRF and the National Institutes of Health
Conrad was diagnosed five years ago on an unlucky Friday the 13th. In the years since then he has lived up to the meaning of his name: brave. He was determined to participate in last year’s JDRF Walk even if he had to hop his way through. Every day he is taking on more of the responsibility of caring for himself, and doing so with intelligence and good spirits. We are not surprised that his 6th grade teacher told him this past June that he has the courage of a lion. Conrad can’t ignore the burden of living with type 1—none of us can—but it never stops him.
Team Conrad will be participating in the JDRF One Walk Boston on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at the DCR Hatch Shell.