Thriving While Managing Type 1 Diabetes
Patrick Swingle is a typical American kid. He enjoys hanging out with his friends, playing rugby, rock climbing and going on backpacking trips. Patrick also has type 1 diabetes. Rather than feel sorry for himself and let his diagnosis hold him back, he is thriving. “Patrick has completely integrated diabetes into who he is. It does not define him, but it is absolutely a part of him,” stated his mother, Vivian.
Getting to this point wasn’t a walk in the park, for either Patrick or his parents. “When Patrick was first diagnosed, our biggest concern was his blood sugar when he wasn’t with us. Particularly when he was playing sports or at a friend’s house. Sleeping was another big area of worry. We would test his glucose at midnight and again at 3 AM, but there were many nights when we would tip toe into his room, wearing a headlamp and saying a prayer that he’d still be breathing.”
The decision to adopt and trust the latest technological breakthroughs in diabetes management helped to ease this anxiety. Just 3 months after his diagnosis, Patrick began using a pump to administer his life-saving insulin. Two years later, he was using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to track his glucose levels throughout the day. “There is always an undercurrent of worry when you have a child with type 1 diabetes, but glucose monitoring makes that undercurrent much quieter. Knowledge is power – and the access to his blood sugar levels gives us the information we need to support him as needed. Without that information, we lean more into worry and concern,” Vivian explains.
When Drs. Fredrick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin in 1921, they saw their research literally save lives. However, the burden associated with managing diabetes continued to prevent many patients from living life to its fullest. Ongoing research advances over the years have enabled kids like Patrick to pursue the same activities as their peers without a constant, looming fear of swings in blood sugar.
“Technology has allowed me to prevent lows because it can predict when I will be going low. I can see trends that help me with decision making – what to eat, when to correct, and so on,” Patrick stated. “I hope technology in the future will be completely hands off and will make blood glucose corrections without my input.”
The mission of the American Diabetes Association is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Since 1952, the ADA has supported scientists and the life-saving research they conduct to ensure people with diabetes, like Patrick, can live life to the fullest.
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