A lady in my running group who cycles a lot with me has a daughter with type 1 diabetes that was diagnosed when she was 15. She often talks to me about her daughter in high school and the highs and lows of living with diabetes. I find her comments quite interesting most of the time. Case in point:
"I think that the majority of serious diabetic athletes were diagnosed with diabetes later in life. You are the exception to the rule, the only one I know that was diagnosed at a young age and are a serious athlete."
I've never really thought about this before. The percent of the population that has type 1 diabetes is low, and then if you analyze only those that are athletes out of the group the numbers drop even more.
I started to think more and more about her comment, and think about the athletes I knew that have diabetes, which is not many. Out of the few I know, one was diagnosed in her 20s, and two others in their late teens. I began to wonder if I knew anyone that was diagnosed at a young age, like me, at 4? It turns out that I know no one that was diagnosed young and is an athlete.
What makes me different than the rest? Why am I an athlete and so few others that were diagnosed early in life not? When a person is diagnosed later in life, they have already established interests. They now have the challenge of making diabetes fit into their already-established lifestyle. I can only speculate, but I don't think they would stop doing something they enjoy because of diabetes.
My earliest memories are that of the day I was diagnosed. I don't remember life without the disease, which is both a good and bad thing in my opinion. Although my parents were warned that they should be careful of what activities I participated in, they let me do whatever I wanted. This included playing soccer, softball, basketball, running, volleyball, and stints in tennis and golf. If they had concerns, never was it shown. I believe their desire to let me do whatever I wanted helped me in countless ways. I grew up not viewing diabetes as a limiting factor when it came to sports. Rather, it was something extra to deal with. It couldn't stop me from doing anything.
That attitude has stuck with me. I believe that I can do anything I want. Run a marathon? Sure. Ultras? Why not? Complete an Ironman or half? Of course it is on the bucket list. Sports have always been part of my life, and I can guarantee they always will be. I'll be that 88 year old woman who is still running marathons.
Were you diagnosed young in life or older? What do you think - are diabetic athletes primarily people diagnosed later in life?