Living Life to the Fullest with Type 1 Diabetes - Brandon Bowker
November is Type 1 Diabetes awareness month. I always do something to honor this month and to hopefully provide some insight that will provide awareness for Type 1 Diabetes. This year I am going to be providing three written interviews from three different people who live with Type 1 Diabetes that inspire me. Each of these people live every day with a "disease" that is emotionally, mentally, and often even physically draining yet they do not let it define them. Rather they take it in stride, living a strong, healthy, and confident life. They did not give up just because it may be slightly harder than most for them to lead a healthy, active, and normal life instead learned to adjust, manage, and better themselves. All three of these people motivate me everyday to keep moving towards my goals, to not give up, and to keep pushing the limit of what my body, soul, and mind can handle because they balance that every single day.
These interviews are simple and without a lot of fluff, as there is not a lot of fluff when it comes to diabetes. It is every minute of every day monitoring, pricking, monitoring, and pricking some more. Diabetes is messy, it has scars, insulin pouches, it is people questioning whether you should be eating something, and its being unsure of yourself. Despite all the messy there is something wonderful about Diabetes because it can teach you so much about yourself, and as someone who merely participates on the outside, my husband is the diabetic, it also teaches each us about patience, love, caring, and responsibility. I believe strongly that those with Type 1 Diabetes are instantly stronger than the normal person for what they go through on a daily basis. It is this strength I see in each of them, specifically these three people I am highlighting, that continues to motivate me and I am very excited to share their story with you.
I am going to start this series with someone you all don't need much introduction to, my amazing husband Brandon Bowker. This man defines everything about the strength, passion, and faith that I strive to live my life by.
(Q) Name: (A) Brandon
(Q) How long you’ve been living with T1D: (A) 17 years. It was the night of Super Bowl Sunday during my Freshman year of highschool. I had spent the last 6 months not "feeling right", my tongue was always cracked, I had no energy, losing weight quickly, and constantly peeing. That night in the middle of the night I woke up to pee, I could not walk, and could not see. I stumbled to the sink, fell, and knock myself unconscious on the bathroom sink. Hearing the bang my parents rushed in and immediately picked me up and rushed me to the hospital. When I first entered the hospital they repeatedly tried to check my blood sugar, yet kept getting error, when I was finally hooked to a monitor I had a Blood Glucose reading of 1,790.
I ended up spending 8 days in the hospital. As a 15 year old kid I'll never forget those days in the hospital balancing being grateful for all those who came to visit me and embarrassed/unsure of what was going on, the idea of being different was scary for me.
Being different was a daunting idea for a 15 year old who was still trying to define himself and the idea of having a manage something like Type 1 Diabetes was very daunting. Fast forward 17 years and I am blessed to say that I did not let the idea of being different stop me from living my life, I did not let Type 1 Diabetes hold me back.
(Q) What activities, hobbies, and/or sports are you involved in? (A) Baseball / half marathons / Golf / Skiing / Basketball / Weight Lifting / Bike Riding
(Q) Favorite snack (one that helps raise your blood sugar either the quickest, or makes you the most stable) when you are low: (A) Chocolate Milk
(Q) Do you use a pump or provide manual injections? How often do you test yourself? (A) Manual Injections / Test myself 4-5 times daily
(Q) Do you use any glucose monitoring systems? (A) Dexcom Monitoring System
(Q): The hardest aspect about managing T1D with living an active lifestyle? (A) Always making sure that sugar is available as you never know when a low is going to hit you, even if you have prepared for it.
Remembering to fuel your body to prevent severe lows.
When your body reacts completely different to a food or quantity of insulin than it normally does.
Forgetting extra insulin, sugar, test strips, needles, and any form of back up when you need it the most.
(Q) What is the best aspect about managing T1D with living an active lifestyle? (A) I know my body better than probably 95% of the population does. I know how it reacts to every type of food group, activity, sickness, moods, stress, etc. Knowing all this makes me want to treat my body with respect and live as long a possible. I want to prove that living with Type 1 Diabetes doesn't mean I have to fulfill the stereotype.
(Q) If you could tell someone who has just recently been diagnosed the one thing that was most helpful for yourself (or that you wish you were told) when you were diagnosed what would you tell them? (A) A combination of proper nutrition and exercise is important to feeling normal and managing Blood Sugars successfully. It is the best way to get in front of this disease and allow you to continue to live the life you want to live.
Little things such as rotating your injection sites regularly, I have insulin scar pouches because I didn't rotation my injections from ages 15-25.
Lastly, you have not change personally just because you have T1D. You can still live the same life you were living prior, or want to continue to live you just have to be a little bit more responsible.
(Q) As an athlete how do you manage your blood sugars during your activities? (A) It really depends on the exercise but the trick to being an athletic type 1 diabetic is to take care of yourself. You have to eat and you have to fuel your body properly, a good balance of carbs, fats, and proteins. I also always make sure to have more sugar on me than I need during exercise in case my body decides to burn more sugar than normal that particular day. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for sugar from people if you are down and out.
(Q) If you could tell someone who is hesitant to maintain an active lifestyle with T1D what would you tell them? (A) Take baby steps. Start small like going for a walk, or taking a group class. Each day it will become easier, become more routine, and each day you'll learn a little bit more about your body. Remember exercise helps to control your blood sugars which in turn makes it easier to manage.
(Q) What is the most important aspect about managing blood sugar levels while maintaining an active lifestyle? (A) Maintaining a balance between diet, exercise, sleep, and recovery. To much of any of these can put a damper on another and cause your blood sugars to be out of wack. For example if your diet is too strict you could end up with undetectable lows which is very dangerous, or your body won't have enough fuel in order to repair from a bad low.
(Q) What activity seems to lower your Blood Sugar the most? (A) Running, yard work, skiing, house work, and honestly anytime I am doing things specifically with my hands.
(Q) Can you provide some insight behind your diet? (A) I believe my diet closely resembles a KETO diet with high fats, proteins, and lower carbs. However, I do have days in which my body needs a heavy carb day.
(Q) What is your favorite healthy snack and/or meal? (A) Power Crunch Protein Bars, Protein Muffins, and Isagenix Meal Replacement Shakes.
Thank you everyone for you constant support and love!