I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) when I was two years old. It had always felt as though T1D was a part of my life. I of course don’t remember much before I was two, and so being a diabetic has been all I’ve ever known: from learning how to manage my blood sugar throughout school and sports, to understanding the effects certain sugary foods had on me. I feel fortunate to be in my position, to have been diagnosed from such a young age. This is because I’ve seen first hand from my older sister, Amanda, what a shock T1D can be for those who are a bit older. She was diagnosed when she was eleven, and while T1D did change her life, it didn’t stop her from adjusting and figuring the ins and outs of the disease just like I had once done myself.
While terrifying for most parents, T1D never made my mother stop me from getting into sports. I attribute myself being able to manage my T1D as well as I do because of all the sports I played growing up. Football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and lacrosse all taught me how to deal with low and high blood sugars during practices and games. I learned to always be prepared; I, to this day, still carry a string bag full of my supplies out to every game I play in, making sure I have everything I need in any situation. Over the years I’ve also learned how to recognize how my body is feeling. I understood when I felt shaky, hungry, and weak that my blood sugar was likely going low and that when my mouth was dry and I was constantly needing to use the bathroom and drink water that my blood sugar was high. These recognitions became second nature to me as I encountered them more and more throughout my life.
Something that I’ve found to be important is to communicate these things to other parents, teachers, and coaches. I’ve luckily dealt with very supportive people who have always wanted to help and better understand my situation as a T1D. For those who are building a support network, it’s key to communicate your symptoms, your treatments, and any issues you may face. Most people are good people and they will be willing to help with whatever problems you may encounter. JDRF has been phenomenal for T1Ds like myself. They’re a great organization which strives to help raise funds to find a cure for T1D. I’ve had many amazing experiences with them and continue to support them in all they do for diabetics around the world. I have participated in JDRF’s Annual Car Show, One Night Gala, and Bag of Hope program and have found all these events to be tremendous in supporting and helping to fundraise. All in all, while T1D can prove to have its challenges, it should never be a roadblock to achieving your goals. I never let it stop me, and I now find myself fortunate enough to be playing football in the NESCAC at Hamilton College.
Written by: Kevin Lyons | Holliston, MA
Date of Diagnosis: July 2005
Photo Credits: Frank Herzog Photography