Hometown: Centerville, Utah
Age when diagnosed: 26
Type 1 or Type 2: Type 1
Exercise may be one the biggest hurdles for those with diabetes. Finding the motivation to go out and exercise when you’re feeling down can seem like an impossible task. For some like Kevin, a type 1 diabetic and father of three, exercise not only benefits his physical health but also his emotional well-being. “Running or other forms of exercise can be a great release mentally and physically,” Kevin says. “A nice long run can do wonders for my A1c and my mental health. From my experience, diet is not the only key to control your A1c.”
Everyone can find something that motivates them to be healthy and happy; for Kevin, running helps him break free of the restraints of diabetes. “Running makes me want to control my diet so I don't have to haul around the extra weight all those miles. Losing the extra weight increases my metabolism and gives me more energy to complete my daily tasks,” he says. “All of these factor in together to help lower my A1c and increase my level of satisfaction with life.”
With the highs also come the lows associated with a diabetes. No one is immune to the financial burden that follows a diabetes diagnosis. “Everything adds up. Paying for pump supplies, prescriptions, testing supplies and continuous glucose monitor supplies can get pretty expensive,” he says. “The new high-deductible healthcare plans have been very burdensome. The month that I hit my out-of-pocket maximum for insurance is a great month. I also take advantage of the benefits I receive from insurance, like automatic prescription renewals and delivery.”
As with any chronic illness diagnosis, support is the foundation of not only diabetes management but happiness. “The most important lesson I learned from diabetes is that there are a lot of people that care for me. It has been very humbling for me to have people inquire after my health with genuine concern. It's always nice to feel loved,” he says. “My wife has always been there to help me with diabetes. She has learned that a grunt and a nudge at 2:00 a.m. means that I need help with low blood sugar.”
Recognizing when you need support or help can be difficult for some to accept, and Kevin was no exception. “I have always been an independent and private individual. Allowing other people access to personal information, thoughts and feelings has been uncomfortable at best,” he says. “How do I manage to do it? I still have not perfected it. Sometimes you need to be brought down to a low before you are willing to accept help. An A1c over 8 was my wake-up call. I had to shut up and just deal with it.”
For those struggling with managing their diabetes, Kevin’s advice is to find a healthcare provider who’s invested in your case. “If you aren't doing well, you need the support of a doctor or diabetes educator that will take your case personally and will encourage you to do your best. All doctors are not created equal. Find one who cares,” he says.
With new technology hitting the market each year, the burden of living with diabetes lessens — at least a little. “Each time I receive a new insulin pump, I feel like it is a turning point. The new pumps with integrated continuous glucose monitoring have kept my interest piqued. Testing and correcting can be boring and tiresome. The CGM is nice since it prods me in the right direction.”
Diabetes can teach you many things that can ripple throughout your life, affecting it in ways you may not have expected. “Living with diabetes has made me stronger by helping me understand that I can survive difficult situations. Now if I can only survive 3 kids,” he says.