Thursday, May 7, 2015

Teen with Type 1 diabetes to speak at support group May 13

Ryan Wilkins, a seventh grader from Brookville, Ohio, will present “The Highs and Lows of Living with Diabetes” at the Reid Diabetes Support Group on Wednesday, May 13, from 5 – 6 p.m. Ryan, a Type 1 diabetic, will be joined by his mom, Leigh, who will share her perspective as a parent. All community members are welcome, particularly those who are dealing with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Ryan was nine years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during a routine check-up. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are very different, although both relate to insulin, the hormone that helps regulate how the body processes sugar. Like all Type 1 diabetics, Ryan must test his blood sugars frequently, track his carbohydrate intake and deliver insulin to his body. He wears two electronic medical devices — an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor — around the clock.

“I am excited to talk at the support group, because diabetes is one big challenge, and Type 1s need to stick together,” he said. “The most important thing is that you can’t be that person who thinks you’ve got it figured out. You need to let other people be on your team so you can have a normal life.”

Ryan said that staying active with sports such as baseball, soccer and wrestling helps him keep his blood sugars in a good range. At the Reid presentation, he will talk about the daily aggravations of dealing with diabetes, some strategies for success and what he has learned about himself through the experience. Despite the frustrations, having diabetes does provide an occasional benefit, Ryan said. “Sometimes when my blood sugar goes low at school, I get to leave class and have pudding in the nurse’s office,” he explained.

The presentation also will include a few words from Ryan’s mom, Leigh. She will talk about how diabetes has affected their family, how she provides support to Ryan, and how they balance his need for independence with her need to monitor his blood sugars closely. Afterward, Ryan and Leigh will answer questions.

The Reid Diabetes Support Group meets monthly in the hospital’s oncology conference room, which is located in the Reid Cancer Center (enter on the north side of the hospital). Questions? Call 765-983-3423.

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