Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Do you work with athletes with diabetes?

Sep 15, 2010

I recently read Carla’s blog about getting back to school and the challenges, or considerations, of having diabetes. Then, I read this news article about baseball pitcher Dylan Covey who, 4 days before signing a contract with a professional team, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The story reports that he and his family decided he shouldn’t sign and should stay near home to go to college while he gets used to the care of his diabetes. The comments that follow are interesting. Some support his decision to figure this out nearer to his home and parents. Some criticize him and his family saying he wanted more money. Many people commented that athletes with diabetes can do very well, citing a couple of baseball pitchers who have.

I may be naïve, but find it hard to believe that he made this decision, passing up a huge amount of money, based on anything but the shock of finding out that he had diabetes and needed to figure out what to do day-to-day to be healthy.

We read about athletes with type 1 diabetes that do very well, which is wonderful. But, what about all of the little (and big) challenges they face each day? I have read about many people who feel having diabetes actually helped them because they were more focused. But, what about those people with diabetes that may not have done as well because of the challenges?

I remember hearing Gary Hall talk about his diagnosis. He has done very well, winning several Olympic gold medals in swimming. But, he dropped out of normal life and lived in Costa Rica for a while when he was newly diagnosed to figure things out!

Have you worked with athletes (any level) who were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? How about those who head off to college or some other place, away from home and family support? What are their challenges? How have they been successful? Who helps them with their care?

I have seen some teens with diabetes who don’t like to let people know because they don’t want to seem different. They don’t want to wear a medical ID or check their BG in front of people. This scares me. I certainly encourage them to tell some teammates who are their friends and the coach and/or trainer. It is so important to have others know about hypoglycemia symptoms in case the person doesn’t feel them as they play or compete.

Tell us your experience as an athlete with diabetes or when working with someone who is in this situation. It doesn’t have to be someone ready to sign a professional contract. It can be anyone who does athletics with diabetes. What are their “secrets” for success?

Any hints you can share so we can learn to help people meet these challenges would be great!

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