I was diagnosed what will be 5 years ago in February. I’d noticed a weight loss, and had to go to the bathroom all the time. It had been three or four months since my symptoms had started but we could always attribute them to something else. I had always been a tall kid so the weight loss made sense and I drank water all of the time so the constant bathroom trips were perfectly normal. It all started Super Bowl weekend. I had a slight fever and just didn’t feel very well. I missed school the next two days thinking I had the flu. The second night I was complaining of a crossword puzzle being hard and couldn’t concentrate on anything. That night my breathing started to become more and more shallow and it got a fruity smell. My dad decided I needed to go to the doctor the next morning. My mom got me up and we headed out the door. I remember that it was starting to snow and I couldn’t even walk in a straight line to the car. We went to the local walk in clinic and my mom was telling them my symptoms and the doctor was asking me if I knew my name and if I knew where I was. They did a blood test and diagnosed me with Diabetes. My blood sugar was over 600. The doctor told my mom that she needed to drive me straight to the hospital and that they had a helicopter on the way. I went to the hospital where they were prepping me for the flight. (About here is all I can remember. The rest my parents told me about.) I was so dehydrated that they could barely even find a vein to do an IV. They took me in an ambulance to the airport and life-flighted me to Chilren’s Hospital in Omaha. I nearly died. Once my blood sugar was more under control I went through a day or two of classes and informational videos before I was sent home. I spent almost a week in the hospital. I did injections for a year and then got an Animas OneTouch Ping insulin Pump. I’m still using that now. I recently got a Dexcom G5 CGM. I love it!

What is the weirdest question you’ve been asked about your diabetes, and how did you respond?
I’ve had a lot of weird questions but this isn’t about a question. Right after I was diagnosed there was this younger boy at my school that thought Diabetes was contagious. If he saw me walking down the hall he would either hit the wall and be as far away from me as he could or he would hide. It was one of the funniest things I’d seen.

How do you inspire others?
I’ve been an avid horse rider since I was little and I began competitely showing when I was 8. I show in the local 4-H, NRCHA, and AQHYA. I’ve shown in the State 4-H horse show and this summer I got the chance to show at the AQHYA World Show in Oklahoma City. I placed 10th! Diabetics can do whatever they put their minds too. Just like everyone else. Showing can be difficult with diabetes at times but the results are always worth it.

Tell us a story about how diabetes has affected you.
I have diabetes and so does my younger brother. One of my wishes is that my youngest brother isn’t diagnosed as well. It’s a life-long illness but one that is manageable. I just hope that it isn’t something all three of us have to deal with.

How has diabetes contributed to forming you into the person you are today? Mentally, physically, or emotionally?
Diabetes has physically, mentally, and emotionally strengthened me. I’ve seen all of the highs, lows and everything in between. If I see a needle or need to get blood drawn I don’t even bat an eye. In my 16 years I’ve dealt with a lot more than most 25 year olds. As a result of my diabetes I recently had cataract surgery. That is something no young adult should have to do but I did it and it just made me even stronger. My life isn’t perfect but I wouldn’t change it for the world even if that meant no more diabetes.

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