When Dan Eckerson was a teenager and newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he was told that life expectancy would only be at the age of 30. Tens of years later, he continues to live a very active life, running, hiking and playing hockey among his many athletes. People who know him do not really know he has the disease.
November is the National Diabetes Month to bring about diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans and those who love them. Dan is my husband, and our family knows the challenges that come with a chronic illness and how hard it can be to manage it.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to use and keep glucose. For type 1 diabetes, the body completely ceases to produce insulin, a hormone that allows the body to use glucose, food sugars, and energy. People with type 1 diabetes should take daily insulin injections to survive. (Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not produce enough insulin or can not use it properly and usually occurs in people over 40 years of age suffering from an excessive disease with a family history of the disease).
Managing diabetes is a 24-hour work place.
"It's hard but easy to manage. I take five injections of insulin a day and I work to manage the amount of food I eat with the amount of insulin I take to keep my blood sugar in a safety, "Eckerson said, adding that" there is nothing good about the disease, but it forces you to manage the food you eat, your lifestyle, and push yourself to exercise. "
Dan has always been a very active person and has played more sports through high school, including hockey, which he continues to play several times a week for much of the year. He pushed me to be a better skier, but I'm pretty sure he would agree to run on me. He is also a turbulent and long-time tourist who has recently completed 48,000 feet in New Hampshire. Physical activity can help the body make better use of insulin, but blood sugar levels should be carefully monitored.
"I'm lucky," he said. "The whole exercise makes me feel good I have to monitor my blood sugar and make sure I have glucose tablets if it's too low I check my blood sugar before and after exercise and before intense exercise Like the Washington Mountain race, we have decreased the daily dose of insulin.
"Running and hockey are fun. I want to be better."
Maintaining blood sugar levels as close as possible to a normal range is the goal of managing diabetes in order to avoid long-term complications that may include heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, and blood vessel damage. The fact that it shows exactly how much insulin is needed at any given time is far from an exact science and although I have never heard that Dan complains I have seen him frustrated when dealing with the unpredictable nature of the disease.
"The worst thing is the impact of the disease on the people around me," he said. "If you have a blood sugar lowering episode, you can be argumentative, disoriented, completely out of the way, and even go out." "That makes enormous pressure on everyone who cares." The disease is more difficult for them than for me.
Over many decades of life with the disease, improvements have been made, such as lower needles and monitoring of blood sugar levels. "Many have changed to 47 years as diabetics, but major things are monitoring and costs," Dan said. "Self-monitoring of blood glucose was inexistent when I started and now I have an attached monitor that tells my blood glucose levels (all day), almost eliminating low blood sugar episodes. However, costs have risen from less than $ 10 a month without insurance at almost $ 300 a month today with insurance. "
A diagnosis of diabetes did not make Dan give up a full and active life. "I have a big family, I traveled extensively, I had a rewarding career, I climbed the 48,000 feet, led challenging races, and met other type 1 diabetics who did a lot more than I did ".
For those recently diagnosed, he said that "there will be times when it's hard and frustrating, but you can handle it." On some days you're on the spot and your blood sugar is excellent, you're not the other days. to stop you.
And I compete, most of the time I was out of energy long before doing that.
All the facts and information about diabetes are from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, joslin.org.
December 1 is the 3-mile race from Manchester's Santa Claus Shuffle with bridal costumes for the top 1400 registered people; and the 5K ugly sweater from Sanbornville.
Nancy Eckerson writes about running on Sunday. You can reach her at [email protected]