Day 12: Juvenile Diabetes Research Association

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Rewind six years. September 3, 2003. Eight years old.

I was always thirsty, fatigued and urinating frequently. Our family was shocked with the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes as we have no knowledge or family history of this disease. Wow, did we learn quickly!

I realized I would have to deal with this on a daily basis. It means monitoring my blood sugar via finger pricks 8 to 10 times daily, inserting a catheter site into my stomach every three days for my insulin pump, carb counting everything I eat and balancing it with the proper amount of insulin so that I can perform my best in every situation.

My daily activities are overshadowed with the constant worry and frustration of my inability, despite my diligent efforts, to control my blood sugar and keep me happy, healthy and successful in all I do.

Fast forward five years. I've had over 20,000 finger pricks measuring my glucose levels, over 3,000 insulin shots and in excess of 365 site insertions. I must take daily precautions, but I will not let diabetes hold me back.

I carry a bag filled with necessary supplies. It includes a blood sugar tester, juice, glucose tablets, snacks, ketone strips, pump supplies and a emergency glucagon kit for severe low blood sugars. This is a burden as I hate carrying it everywhere. Be it a swimming or track meet, hanging out with friends, the movies or a family dinner, I always carry a bag -- no one else does.

At school, I check my blood sugar often, especially before assessments and lunch. This takes time away from my studies and social time. About 2 a.m., my mom tests me to ensure my numbers are okay for sleeping. If low, I must wake up and drink juice and snacks. This makes sleepovers tough.

I am a year-round, competitive swimmer. Handling diabetes in the water is difficult. Vigorous practices and races are even harder. I have to stop and test my blood sugar throughout practice. Exercise greatly affects blood sugar as it works as a hidden insulin. If I am low, I must drink juice, sit out 15 minutes, retest, follow up with a snack, and THEN continue my workout. This results in a loss of valuable time and means I must play catch up.

Meets are also difficult. I try to perform to the best of my ability despite a high or low blood sugar reading. It is frustrating because I know I may have done better if my blood sugar was within the normal range. There have been times when I was low, drinking a juice on the block and afraid I wouldn't have enough energy to swim a 500 meter race.

I have participated in various activities and made numerous speeches as I advocate for a cure. I am happy to be a Children's Congress 2009 delegate.

For the past five years, whenever I throw a penny in a fountain, my wish is constant. I am confident that it will be granted in my lifetime. In order for this to happen, however, I need your support and efforts. Together, this can become a reality. I will always remember the day I was diagnosed with diabetes; I will also forever remember the day when my wish is granted...

Tanner Barton, Dublin, Ohio

Over nearly four decades, JDRF-funded research has led to treatments and therapies that have significantly improved the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. Today, our research is focused on translating the basic research advances we have achieved over the years into treatments with the potential to prevent, stop and cure type 1 and its complications. JDRF is currently funding more than 40 clinical trials to test potential new therapies in people a true demonstration of our progress. Please consider giving a gift of hope as we continue our mission to find a cure and fast!

About the series

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