Real Talk With Dave- HOW TO: THE NEED TO KNOW ON NEEDLES

 QUESTION FOR FELLOW DIABETICS : HOW DO YOU DISPOSE OF YOUR USED NEEDLES?

            This is one of THE MOST asked questions those of us with Diabetes often face.

 MY JOURNEY TO SAFETY:

When I first got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes back in 2008, I vividly remember how unaware I was on the topic of safe needle disposal. I didn’t know of the harmful effects of throwing away used needles right into the trash.

Fast forward to one year after my diagnosis, I setup my very first pump at the age of 12! This opened up a whole new world that I never experienced before.

It can be pretty daunting when you’re 12 years old. I learned a whole encyclopedia’s worth of experiences. I learned everything from putting on my pump to how to wear it and even how to actually use it!  I’d like to share with you my top tips for disposing needles safely.

My journey to safety was NOT an easy one! I had lots of trash that needed to be thrown away. A used needle and inserter were among that pile of trash, so without the knowledge I needed, I threw away my used needles in the trash!!!

MY TOP TIPS ON HOW TO DISPOSE NEEDLES SAFELY:

  1. DO NOT THROW USED NEEDLES AND INSERTERS IN TRASH

  2. ENLIST A PUMP TRAINER

    • When I began my new world as a T1D, I constantly threw away my used needles in the trash. My pump trainer quickly caught me in the act of throwing the needles away unsafely and showed me how to break my long-term habit!

 

  1. HAVE ACCESS TO A SHARPS CONTAINER:

    • Unused needles go in a sharps container as well as used syringes, lancets, and any other form of needles.

Today, this is something that I am very passionate about. After  educating myself on the dangers of disposing used needles the wrong way, I made it my goal to always have a sharps container in sight. Whether I am at home following a set routing or creating temporary plans for traveling-I always make sure to dispose safely!

 

  1. LOCATE A SHARPS DISPOSAL ANYWHERE YOU ARE WITH SAFENEEDLEDISPOSAL.ORG

  • I partnered with SafeNeedleDisposal.org to bring awareness on this very important topic. This website allows you to search for drop off locations in your area by zip code and teaches you how to safely store your used needles at home! Some areas even allow disposal in your household trash bin if placed in the proper container. I find that education is so very important since many may not be fully aware of the potential dangers in disposing their needles unsafely. As SafeNeedleDisposal.org states, the bottom line is that safety is the point.

HOW TO USE SAFENEEDLEDISPOSAL.ORG:

  1. LOCATE DROP-OFF LOCATION:
    • Use the site to locate the appropriate drop-off location in your area is so vital and so very convenient.
  2. STORE UP USED NEEDLES:
    • Store up all your used needles for a few months.
  3. DESIGNATE A REGULAR DISPOSAL DAY:
    • Designate a certain day to go out and dispose of your needles at your local drop-off location. You are not only bettering the environment, but your own health and safety as well.

 Let’s be honest ,as Diabetics, we go through lots of needles, daily, weekly, monthly, and so on. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Diabetes yet, so we must insert pump sites, CGM sites, inject Insulin, and prick our fingers daily! Basically, we go through LOTS of needles and they need to go SOMEWHERE at the end of the day. By having designated areas and a great website to help us find those locations, it becomes a great way to dispose of needles both safely and efficiently.

Bottom line, safety is the point.

Live well,

Dave

How Camp Ho Mita Koda Has Impacted My Life

A lot of things have impacted my life, few as much as Camp Ho Mita Koda (HMK).

I first went to camp sometime in the late 1980’s for a picnic that was put on by the doctors and staff at Case Western Reserve University and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. I was a few years into my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and was a participant in the Diabetes Complications and Control Trial (DCCT), a landmark study looking at the long term effects of tight blood glucose control vs. “standard” treatment which at the time was less intensive. The staff thought it was a way for some of us participants to meet and to thank us for our dedication and commitment to this research study. This first day on the camp grounds felt very good to me. I had been an advocate of outdoor activities my whole life and this was the perfect “playground”. I had just been in the process of changing careers and was recently accepted into the Ursuline College School of Nursing and asked Dr. Saul Genuth, the DCCT chair, how I could get involved with camp. He linked me to Dr. Marc Feingold, the medical director at camp at the time, who set me up as a dispensary aide for the next summer during my freshman year at Ursuline. Little did I know that almost 30 yrs. later I would still be involved in the special place that became my second home.

The first five years at camp were the best. This is because I was able to spend nine weeks each summer physically at camp. The second year I was asked to be the dispensary (healthcare center) charge. I, along with a nurse named Betsy Brown, who was my mentor and a DCCT coordinator, interviewed many candidates and we hired my staff. I worked with camp director and storyteller Rich Humphreys and we ran a capacity camp for three years. During this time, I has some of the best times of my life, meeting friends who are still people I communicate with regularly today including Rich Humphreys, who remains one of my best friends. Rich received the Lilly 50 yr. diabetes award eight years ago and is still a role model for so many youngsters with type 1.

In 1993 I met a dietary intern from Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland who was on her final rotation of her internship.

We spent two weeks together at camp which began a relationship that ended up in marriage five years later.

We were married at Notre Dame College of Ohio and had our wedding reception at camp HMK on May 23rd, 1998. It was truly a special day and I can’t believe it’s been 19 yrs. The final year of the five that I lived at camp, Rich decided to take his three teenage children around the county in a motor home so I directed camp that year. I had the best staff ever and will never forget that summer. It was truly magical.

The next 15 or so years I’ve remained involved with HMK in several different roles. I was the camp health care manager and along with medical director Dr. Douglas Rogers from the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, kept the program safe and effective working through all of the changes to diabetes management. I’ve continued to direct other camps along the way; we did teen weekend for kids too old for camp (last done in 2016), volunteered for a camp for kids with cystic fibrosis, directed type 2 diabetes camp for seven years and directed a camp for kids with PKU, an inborn error of energy metabolism for 14 years. I continue to sit on the steering committee and help out whenever I can. My wife Jill and I now have three teenage daughters who grew up at HMK.  I would often bring them along when they were younger and put them in cabins with the campers, it was very special to them who obviously wouldn’t be on this earth if it wasn’t for HMK. I could go on but need to run to work. I am currently a certified diabetes nurse educator at Case and Rainbow where I started currently coordinating diabetes clinical trials and am still a participant in the DCCT/EDIC study.


Camp Ho Mita Koda was established in 1929 as the world’s first summer vacation camp for children with diabetes.

It was founded by Dr. Henry John and his wife, Elizabeth (Betty) Beaman, on land that was originally their family’s summer cabin, in Newbury, OH. Dr. Henry John, a MD who graduated from Western Reserve School of Medicine (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland OH, was also a founder of the American Diabetes Association and the first physician to administer IV glucose. He was one of the pioneers of insulin treatment for diabetes. Dr. and Mrs. John envisioned a summer camp where children with diabetes could learn how to manage their diabetes while enjoying the company of other children. In the summer of 1929, Dr. and Mrs. John took six children to their summer cottage and continued to direct Camp Ho Mita Koda for the following 20 years! The 72 acre camp now caters to children ages 4-17 with diabetes. Its management was recently taken over by a new nonprofit called the Camp Ho Mita Koda Foundation.


You can support Dr. and Mrs. John’s 88-year-old vision by visiting: http://www.chmkfoundation.org/

To participate in the Camp Ho Mita Koda Foundation’s first fundraiser please visit: https://rafflecreator.com/pages/15457/camp-ho-mita-koda-cash-calendar-raffle#

Facebook:  Camp Ho Mita Koda Foundation, @CHMKFoundation

Diabetes Doesn’t Control Me

At 49 years old there couldn’t have been a more pronounced time when I needed my mommy most, but at 80 years old she was suffering through her umpteenth battle with cancer and a complicated surgery.  Somehow it didn’t feel right to burden her with my diagnosis.  So there I was, just shy of turning 50, with a life-changing, devastating diagnosis of Type I Diabetes and without my mother to console me. No one can feel your pain or offer support in times of crisis like a mother. As a mother of 2 boys myself who have been afflicted with food allergies, Celiac disease, ADHD and Asperger’s I was no stranger to offering comfort.  I’m just not accustomed to receiving it. I’ve always been strong, emotionally strong I mean.  There was no time for self-pity, for sadness for failure.  Failure meant death.  My friends and family offered support and kindness but no one can really understand the depth of fatigue and fear the disease brings. The persistent need to monitor my blood sugar and account for every scrap of food takes its toll; it’s exhausting.  

Ultimately I made a new best friend, my Dexcom CGM.  I go low in the middle of the night, more often than I should, and definitely more often than I like.  It’s always there for me and I’m thankful for my little pink receiver that wakes me up and shouts EAT SUGAR, figuratively of course.  I’m doing great: still exercising a ton, eating healthy, and living life. My purse is heavier, the TSA screening takes longer and everyone has seen my muffin top when I inject in a restaurant. Despite all that I’m in control.  I’m winning.  Diabetes doesn’t control me.

My Diagnosis With Type 1 Diabetes

Everyones’ diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes is different. This is why I started my blog – to share my story and this post was the very beginning.

This is my story…

Every person diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes may have similar symptoms but not everybody’s diagnosis is the same. This story is from my account but parts within my memory are hazy. I don’t know whether It is because I was so ill or that It was a sensitive time so I’ve blocked it out.

It all started when I was in year 7 around the summer term. Everyone who took part in the stage production of Oliver at my high school was taken down to London to see Hairspray the musical as a reward. All I can remember was being incredibly thirsty. Within a few hours of my journey, I had drunk nearly all 3 bottles of my water. So as you can imagine after drinking all that water I started to need the toilet. Realizing myself that I’d drunk a lot on the way there, but just putting it down to the fact that it was a novelty to be allowed flavored water, on the way back I tried not to drink any. However, after falling asleep, I woke up to find my mouth incredibly dry, resulting in me drinking another bottle. It’s just the hot weather making you drink a lot I thought to myself.

Later in the term, I was becoming incredibly tired. By the end of the term, I was exhausted. I was still drinking lots and during the end of year exams, I started to annoy one or two of my teachers constantly asking to fill up my bottle and asking to go to the toilet. Standing outside my form room, I remember this like yesterday, I fiddled with my skirt and it very nearly fell to the floor. That night we had to buy a new skirt from the school shop before speech day at the end of the week. My mum and dad put it down to a growth spurt and I thought nothing of it.

The summer holidays rolled around. At the beginning of the holidays my cousins, sister and myself went to Filey for a week with my grandparents, something we did nearly ever year since being little. I continued drinking lots and going to the toilet a lot. My gran always tells me how she remembers I was drinking so much Robinsons fruit squash – looking back I agree. Constantly needing the toilet when you are at the beach leads to many difficulties – mainly the lack of toilet! Dragging my gran to the sailing club many times a day she knew something was wrong.

‘Promise me you will go to the Doctors when you get back from Spain’ – Gran the Pan (as we call my Gran haha)

 I dismissed it – I didn’t think anything was wrong.

Our holiday in Filey ended and we headed straight for our friend’s villa in Spain. This time with my parents, sister, cousins, auntie and uncle. This is where I became ill quickly. I was eating constantly  (I developed a love for ham toasties) and losing dramatic weight. Every night I would get up around 5 times and every morning I’d have drunk around 4 litres of water (It’s hard to hide how much you have drunk when the water is in a bottle abroad!) Every morning when I’d wake up I was as tired as I had been that night when I had gone to bed. But everybody is sleepy and lazy on holiday – that’s what I thought my tiredness was down too! My dad and uncle tried to throw me in the pool, ‘don’t snap her she’s like a twig!’ my dad joked (unknowingly of course!)

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When we arrived home my mum took me to the doctors, I tried to persuade her not to go but it was no use. This is a TMI warning – so they wanted me to wee in a bottle and as a 12-year-old girl, I refused. We took the bottle home and was told to bring it back the next morning. Finally, after sleeping on the idea I reluctantly did. The doctors then ran some tests and told my mum the results should be there later that day and they would ring us. But an hour later there was a phone call…

It was Doctor Brophy my godparent and GP. He told my mum and dad that I urgently needed to go to the hospital because I had extremely high blood sugar and ketone readings. We rushed all the way to the hospital and I had some more tests. They weighed me and took some blood samples. My mum and dad were both really nervous but I didn’t really understand. They told me that I was Type 1 Diabetic and that my bloods were 38! They explained to me that a non-diabetics blood sugar is between 4 and 7. I weighed around 4.3 stone and my condition at the time was severe. They told us that I was very lucky and that if we had not gone to the doctors on that day I would have been in a coma (shortly followed by death from DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis))

5th August 2009 – The date I was diagnosed.

It was really hard being diagnosed with a ‘disease’ (ergh I hate that term!) that you have never heard of and there is no cure for. It hit my parents especially hard. I remember being sat in a room and my dad having to leave – I know it was because he was trying to process it and didn’t want me to see him upset. My mum with soft Northern Irish heart just cried. (I’ve just cried writing this). I refused to stay in hospital that night. I just wanted to go home. I was told I was allowed if I did my own injection at home and came straight back the next morning. ‘ (From what I recall – my dad may have a different version) What would you like?’ My dad asked when we were sat in the hospital. Instant laughter from the nurses and my dad when they found out it was going to cost my parents an iPhone 3. Every cloud and all that ? haha!

The rest of the summer is just a blur to me – I remember going to Clumber Park in our caravan, we always go to Clumber when a big event happens in our life. But apart from that, all I remember from the rest of the summer is my parents helping me (mostly them) carb counting my dinner, scales, carb ratios and insulin injections.I did my own injections from the start – I refused to let anyone else inject me.

September rolled around and with all my new diabetic supplies I headed off to my first day of year 8. I was lucky enough for my mum to work at school so she let all the staff know that I had Type 1 – however, I was petrified of telling my friends. Our first lesson was Biology and I think all the stress got to me because I felt really strange. From what I remember I’d only had this feeling once before. I checked my blood sugars and they were low. I remember being really embarrassed having to tell my teacher I was low but she was lovely. Some of the symptoms of low blood sugars are lack of concentration, dizziness, and shakiness. I had two plain digestive biscuits to bring me back up as my eyes were welled up with tears. My friends on my table asked what was wrong. Newly diagnosed I didn’t know how everyone would react. Only knowing about Type 2 before I was diagnosed and how it was portrayed in the media I thought they’d think it was because of my weight (which to be honest) you must have been able to tell it wasn’t!

 I wrote it on my wrist – ‘I have Type 1 Diabetes’ – That took so much of my courage.

Being Diagnosed with Type 1 wasn’t the be all and end all. It was the beginning and the start of a long journey but not a bad one – it’s a roller coaster. It was a learning process, it still is and it always will be. I hope by sharing my story it will be relatable to other Type 1’s – the unknown, the confusion and the symptoms. If you didn’t know what it was like to be diagnosed with Type 1 I hope it’s given you more of an understanding (and well done for reading to the end!)

Lots of love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx

I Am A Warrior, I Have Type1

I have been a type 1 diabetic since I was 8 years old. My brother is a type 1 diabetic as well. He is one year younger than I am, and was diagnosed one year before I was diagnosed. Other than that, we have no family history. It just was a freak thing, a mystery. It is rare for a brother and sister to both have type 1, that’s what the doctors told us at least.

I was visiting my father in Michigan when I was diagnosed with type 1. I had extreme thirst, was always lying around, didn’t have much energy, and urinated my bed due to the extreme amounts of fluids I was drinking. I was brought to the doctor, and my blood sugar was unreadable due to how high my glucose was. The doctors taught me how to practice giving shots with needles on oranges; yes, the fruit. After that I was hospitalized for a few days.

jillian-and-brother
My brother Joseph and I, both type 1 diabetics. Diagnosed one year apart at ages 7 and 8.

I was so young and I didn’t understand exactly what was going on. It was a challenge. Even though diabetes had been around for years, in the 90’s it was still considered “new.” Today we have advanced medicine such as insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and mixed insulin. However, when I was a child, we did not have any of those. I had to administer multiple shots every day, and mix two different insulin’s together.

At school, my brother and I were the only diabetics, no one else. We both felt different and alone in that factor, but we did have each other. We would have to be called out of class to the nurse’s office to test our blood sugars and give insulin. I think the hardest part as a kid was not being able to eat sugar. I always had sweets before I was diagnosed, and then all of the sudden I wasn’t allowed to. Diabetes was so “new” to us at that time that things were eliminated simply because of lack of knowledge. We were told “no sugar, low carbs.” I was grateful however, that my parents found a sleep-away “diabetic camp” that my brother and I both went too where everyone there was just like us: diabetic.

jillian-at-camp
At diabetic camp. I’m still friends with one of the girls to this day, her name is Alison. Type 1 diabetic.

As I got older, my diabetes was mostly kept silent. I didn’t want anyone knowing I had to give shots. Then the insulin pump came during my high school years. I hid my pump so people wouldn’t ask questions like: “what’s that” or “why do you still have a beeper?” College was the real challenge though. I was in denial. I didn’t test my sugars often, didn’t give myself enough insulin and my eyes felt blurry. I felt invincible. All I did was drink and party. My a1c at the highest was 13, which is beyond dangerous. Shortly after, I was hospitalized for DKA (diabetic keto acidosis). That’s when I knew I had to get my act together.

As I got into my mid 20’s I began working out and seeing more and more diabetics on social media. I came across so many diabetic accounts and it made me realize there are people just like me, facing the same obstacles (and more), who were truly inspirational. I got my life back. I started listening to my doctors, testing my sugars all the time, going regularly to my endo and other specialists, and giving the proper amounts of insulin for my food intake. I began working out and being open to having my pump out in the open instead of hiding it. I became heavily involved in the diabetic community: JDRF Long Island Chapter attending walks and local functions as well as the ADA, ride to cure diabetes. I got involved on the diabetic app “Beyond Type 1” and was featured on their Instagram account for “living beyond type 1 by lifting weights.”

Raising awareness and being around other type 1’s made me realize that I was not alone. I loved what I saw at these events, so I began a diabetic Instagram (@t1dchick) with over 7,000 type 1 followers. They started asking me questions and advice, and at that moment, I knew I was a leader. I was helping diabetics and inspiring them to want to live healthy lives with type 1 diabetes.

After my social media explosion, I wanted to make diabetes visible. I created trendy diabetic alert bracelets and began selling them. I donated a percentage of my sales back to the organization that has been there since I was a kid: JDRF.

Diabetes has taught me so much. With age comes maturity, and I am truly living “beyond” this disease. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started to embrace my disease and take care of my life. I have been on the Medtronic insulin pump for over 12 years now and just recently became a cgm, Dexcom user. I am so grateful for this technology, making my everyday life easier. Type 1 is manageable and I can live a long healthy life with the proper care and positive attitude.

I want to inspire others to not hide behind diabetes. There are so many people living with type 1. More and more diabetics are coming out and being open about our “invisible” disease.

Diabetes is part of who I am. I don’t remember life without having diabetes.

I am a warrior, I have type 1.

Going For Gold

Gary Hall Jr. is a three time Olympic swimmer out of Phoenix, Arizona by way of Cincinnati, Ohio. A product of a strong swimming lineage, his father Gary Hall Sr., uncle Charles Keating Ill, and maternal grandfather, Charles Keating Jr., all have competed and won medals in previous Olympic games.

Hall Jr. himself competed in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic Games, winning a total of 10 medals. At only 21 years of age in the 1996 Olympics, he won two individual silver medals and two team relay golds, including helping set the world record in both the 400 meter freestyle and medley relays. Hall won 2 gold medals in the both individual and relay events in the 2000 Olympics and an additional gold in the 50 meter freestyle in 2004.

Although highly decorated, Greg Hall Jr. had to overcome being diagnosed with type-1 Diabetes Mellitus in 1999 before the 2000 Olympics. He faced a decision whether or not to give up swimming entirely.

I spoke with Gary about that tumultuous time in his career.

Hall was diagnosed in march of 1999, after we underwent the very typical stages of grief and shock he says he remembers there being few diabetic athlete standouts at the time. Most importantly, there were certainly no Olympic athletes.

Two separate doctors told Hall that his diagnosis would mean the end of his career. They told him the strenuous Eight or more hours he would have to spend practicing in the pool would be too great a risk for someone having to regulate their blood glucose levels with insulin injections.

Unsatisfied with this news, the determined Hall eventually sought the advice of Dr. Anne Peters, who he credits most for her encouragement to not give up early on. The UCLA (now USC) endocrinologist and her team worked closely with Hall to utilize his strict workouts positively to control his sugars, rather than as an obstacle. Gary Hall credits Dr. Peter immensely for helping him find a routine that ultimately allowed him to continue competitive swimming at the highest level.

When he returned to swimming competitively, he broke the world record in the men’s 50-meter freestyle race with a time of 21.76 seconds at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Most diabetics are instructed to regulate their diets and control their blood sugars with multiple insulin shots delivered through syringes and pens. Insulin pumps offer a lot of flexibility with the amount of insulin that can be delivered over specific periods of time, but can be burdensome, as they must remain attached to the body. Choosing which method of insulin delivery can be challenging, especially for a world-class competing athlete.

Hall noted that he alternated back and forth between wearing a pump and taking multiple injections as he trained for the Olympics Hall attempted unsuccessfully to wear an Omnipod pump in the water for training and meets as he adjusted to swimming as a diabetic. Unplugging his pump and no longer receiving basal insulin, his blood glucose levels would shoot up hundreds of points after a training session. Here he was competing in a sport where swimmers shave off their body hairs in attempts to gain an edge and facilitate speed. Hall on the hand was wearing injection sites for his pump that would fly off his body, forcing him to try such extreme measures and using duct tape to adhere the sites to his skin in the water. He settled finally on multiple injections for competition.

The daily activities of an athlete are so regimented; it’s nearly catastrophic when there are disruptions. Unfortunately, diabetic athletes are all too familiar with challenges which may disrupt their routines. When I asked Gary Hall what his biggest challenges were, he responded with his beliefs about the lack of resources for diabetic athletes on topics such as: post workout spikes, competition adrenaline spikes, and the differences in blood sugar management between anaerobic and aerobic workouts.

The best way to combat these challenges is to maintain a stringent routine of the same activities before competition. I am well aware that diabetic and non-diabetic athletes alike will follow a particular routine that works for them like a bible. I asked Gary to share with me his routine for the day leading up to a big race:

  • Gary claimed he would test his blood sugar 20-25 times a day.
  • He would carry his blood glucose meter with him at all times all the way up to the Ready-Room before a particular race (A small room near the pool where only competing athletes were allowed 5-10 minutes before each race)
  • After the race he would test again, his blood sugar typically had shot up, sometimes up to 300 points
  • He would then proceed to giving himself a bolus of insulin to get his blood sugar back down to a comfortable level (below 200) before it was time for his heat to participate in the next race

Despite all the precautions we take, diabetic athletes can still fall victim to complications related to their blood sugars. “Going Low” or experiencing hypoglycemia is a condition where blood glucose levels are too low. The body usually undergoes symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, and an elevated heart rate. If not treated, hypoglycemia’s can lead to seizure, coma, or death. Surprisingly, most diabetic athletes or far more concerned with not being able to compete than they are about their own safety.

Gary Hall recalls a hypoglycemic episode at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Australia. He remembered testing throughout the day, but approximately 15 minutes prior to the race, he checked his blood sugar (BS) on his meter and it read 60 mg/dl (anything under 80 is considered low and exercising at a two digit BS is not recommended). He quickly grabbed and drank a sports drink and waiting a few minutes before checking again. After the second reading he realized his blood sugar had actually dropped even more, and it was officially time to panic. He chugged down another sponsored sports drink in the ready room and grabbed a third on the way to the actual race. Holding his third sports drink during swimmer introductions, he gulped it down on the starting blocks legitimately moments before the sound of the gun. With a belly sloshing full of sugary hydrate, he started the race, but unfortunately vomited underwater at the 35 meter mark. Gary Hall Jr. solidified his cult hero status as he completed this task on national television, but still finished second in the race.

Hall admits his biggest fears related to going low include the serious risk of having a Seizure in the pool and drowning, but also the soul-crushing possibility of potentially having to stop what you love to do.  

On a more positive note, I asked Hall what he appreciated about his experiences participating in the Olympics as a diabetic athlete:

“I could not have imagined the level of support from the T1D community. I received letters of support from all over, motivating me to train harder.”

Hall continued to say his greatest accomplishments were being able to represent the USA and win on the greatest stage, and representing the entire diabetic population worldwide.

In November of 2008, Gary Hall Jr. retired from competition. Since retirement, Hall has been extremely involved in health initiatives related to diabetes and Type-2 diabetes prevention.

Alongside groups such as the Aspen Institute, the Clinton Foundation, the American college of sports medicine, and the T1D Exchange, Gary Hall works tirelessly with policymakers to improve the lives of Americans looking to take control of their health.

Hall is currently promoting “Project Play”, an initiative looking to increase youth access to physical activity and sport. Hall has testified before Congress and believes that when it comes to insurance, discounts that currently exist for corporate gym memberships and safe driving should be extended to children and families who consistently engage in physical activity and sport. He believes American children and families should be rewarded when they proactively protect themselves against obesity and Type-2 Diabetes.

When I asked him how he envisions the rest of us as citizens can help aid the cause, he replied that we should all be advocates. Anyone touched by diabetes in any way should open up and speak about the challenges he or she faces. He recalls that legislation back around the time of his diagnosis would not have allowed him to buy health insurance, despite being able to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Hall doesn’t believe in us as diabetics settling with the rules as they currently exist, and moving forward would like diabetics to have the ability to join the military. Overall, he preaches that more people should get involved.

I too agree more should be done, especially for those willing to work for their health and well being. I think we should all follow Gary Hall’s lead and take it upon each and every one of ourselves to promote initiatives beneficial to our cause.

When asked what other famous athletes or celebrities might’ve inspired Hall throughout his career, he chuckled and replied simply: “The people who touched me most weren’t world champions, they were ordinary folks doing what they loved, who wouldn’t be denied” In august of 2004, a 13-year-old version of myself sat and watched Gary Hall win the gold after a television segment explaining what he had gone through as a diabetic athlete aired. About a month later that boy would receive the news from his doctor that he too was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes. After recovering from the initial shock, he remembered Gary Hall Jr., and found comfort in knowing that he too could achieve his highest athletic dreams.

I will always be grateful for the inspiration given to me that year from Gary Hall, his performance encouraged diabetics and athletes across the world not to allow any shortcomings to stand in your way to greatness.

For more updates and tips on how to use fitness for diabetes management and prevention. Follow me on twitter @roycHealth !

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