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Learning How to Race with Diabetes

By Luke Rosser | Nov. 10, 2015, 3:11 p.m. (ET)

luke rosserHello, my name is Luke Rosser. I am 13 years old, and I have Type 1 diabetes.

I have not always been a diabetic. On Feb. 8, I was competing at a swim meet in Tampa Florida when my family and friends noticed I wasn’t feeling so good. I was really tired, and every time I would eat or drink something I would throw up. I managed to still compete during the swim meet that day and set a new personal record for a couple of my strokes.  After getting up every hour in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and feeling sick and weak, my parents decided to rush me back home to the children’s hospital in Orlando.

When we got to the ER at the hospital I was immediately taken back to a room where I was given two IVs and the nurses drew blood to run some tests. I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sleep. A short time later a doctor came into my room and told me my glucose sugar was over 1400! I had no idea what that meant, but when my mom started crying I knew it must not be good. The doctor asked me what sports I liked, and I told him I am a swimmer on a swim team, and I am on a triathlon team and race all over the United States. I also like to mountain bike and run in 5k races. The doctor said “Son, exercise saved your life,” and I was lucky to be alive!

I had to stay in the hospital for three days in the pediatric intensive care unit. When I was able to go home, I was embarrassed to go back to swim team and told my parents that I didn’t want to race in triathlons anymore. Three weeks later I met a triathlete named Chris Clark, who is also a Type 1 diabetic. He was in Orlando for the Ultraman Triathlon Race. He told me to keep going and never give up. He said, “Don’t let diabetes take over your life, but take control of it and keep going.”

Chris was a huge inspiration to me so I told my parents and coaches that I was ready to start swimming and competing again. I wanted to take back control so I trained hard and managed my diabetes during, before and after races all on my own. (My parents supervising of course) I qualified for the Florida Age Group Championship Swim Meet in Sarasota, Florida, just a few months after being diagnosed. I raced in the Florida State Regional Championship Triathlon Race in Sebring Florida in June and took third Place. In August, I went to Ohio and raced in the USA Triathlon Youth National Championships and took eighth place in the nation.

My goals for 2016 are to qualify for the FLAGS Swim Meet again, and take first place in both the Florida State Regional Championship and USAT Youth National Championship Triathlon races. I also plan to share my story with others and encourage them to live healthy lives by exercising regularly and eating healthy. With the help of my parents, I want to make it a law that all kids are tested yearly for Type 1 diabetes at well and sick visits at their doctor’s office.

Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Learn more at diabetes.org.

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