Eckerson: Living a full and active life with diabetes – Sports –


When Dan Eckerson was a teenager and newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he was told that his life expectancy would be only 30 years. Decades later, he continues to live a very active life, running, walking and playing hockey among his many athletic activities. People who know him may not even know he has the disease.

November is National Diabetes Month to raise awareness of 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 having a chronic illness and how difficult it can be to manage it.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to use and store glucose. In type 1 diabetes, the body completely stops producing insulin, a hormone that allows the body to use glucose, sugars found in food, 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 overweight and overweight people over 40 with a family history of the disease.)

Diabetes control is a 24-hour work.

"It's difficult but manageable. I take five insulin injections a day and work to administer the amount of food we eat with the amount of insulin I take to keep my blood sugar level within a safe range, "said Eckerson, adding that" there is nothing good in disease; however, forces you to manage the food you eat, your lifestyle, and encourages you to exercise. "

Dan has always been a very active person and played several sports during high school, including hockey, which he continues to play several times a week for most of the year. He encouraged me to be a better skier, but I'm sure he would agree that he started running to (ahem) accompany me. He is also an avid, longtime wanderer who recently completed 48,000 feet in New Hampshire. Physical activity may help the body to use insulin better, but blood sugar levels need careful monitoring.

"I'm lucky," he said. "Every exercise makes me feel good.I need to monitor my blood sugar level and make sure I have glucose tablets in case it gets too low.I check my blood sugar level before and after exercise and before exercise Like the rush to Mount Washington, I slow down my daily insulin intake.

"Running and hockey are fun, I just wanted to be better."

Keeping blood sugar levels as close as possible to a normal range is the goal of treating diabetes to avoid long-term complications, which can include heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure and damage to blood vessels. Figuring out exactly how much insulin needed at any time is far from being an exact science and although I have never heard Dan complain, I have seen him frustrated in dealing with the unpredictable nature of the disease.

"The worst is the impact the disease has on the people around me," he said. "If you have a low blood sugar episode, you can be argumentative, disoriented, completely out of it, and even faint, which puts a tremendous strain on everyone who interests me, the disease is more difficult for them than it is for me. "

Over the many decades of life with the disease, there have been improvements such as minor needles and monitoring of blood sugar level. "A lot has changed in my 47 years as a diabetic but the main things are monitoring and costs," Dan said. "Self-monitoring of your blood glucose was non-existent when I started and now I have an attached monitor that tells me my blood (all day) levels, almost eliminating episodes of low blood sugar. However, costs have risen from less than $ 10 a month without insurance to almost $ 300 a month today with insurance. "

A diagnosis of diabetes did not stop Dan from living a full and active life. "I have a great family, I traveled a lot, I had a rewarding career, I climbed all 48,000 feet, I ran challenging races and I met other Type 1 diabetics who did a lot more than I did."

For those newly diagnosed, he said that "there will be times when it is difficult and frustrating, but you can manage it. Some days you are on the spot and your blood sugar is excellent, other days you are not. More importantly, it does not have to stop you. "

And I agree, many times I run out of energy long before it.

All facts and information about diabetes are from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston,


On December 1st the 3-mile race takes place at Santa Claus Shuffle in Manchester, with Santa's suits for the first 1,400 registered; and the ugly 5K sweater in Sanbornville.

Nancy Eckerson writes about competing for Seacoast Sunday. You can reach it at [email protected]


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