Students, staff living with Type 1 diabetes
CONNOR WIELGOSZ, CONTRIBUTOR
Only months after turning 50, Ted Cotton collapsed from a kitchen stool into his son’s arms. He had passed out.
“My wife said she knew something was wrong, because I was babbling,” Cotton said. “I wasn’t making any sense.”
The problem was Cotton had taken his insulin injection too early.
The RRC accounting and computer education instructor had recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D), a disease that stops the pancreas from producing insulin. Insulin is the hormone that controls blood sugar.
T1D is also called Juvenile Diabetes, because it’s most common in people under 40. There is currently no cure for T1D, and the only treatment is injecting insulin.
“I started at four injections a day,” Cotton said. He uses what looks like a pen with a sharp, half-inch-long needle under the cap to administer the hormone.
Exercising and maintaining a specialized diet can also help people like Cotton manage T1D. As a former aerobics instructor, Cotton said he didn’t have much trouble adapting to this healthy lifestyle.
“I don’t instruct anymore, but I still do four classes a week,” he said.
Cotton said the diet change wasn’t too hard, either. It’s all about moderation.
“You can still have a glass of wine, but you can’t have six of them,” he said.
Although there is currently no cure for T1D, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is working to help end the disease. The not-for-profit organization funds diabetes research grants to help better prevent and treat T1D.
On Nov. 4, JDRF will host their annual Ride for Diabetes Research fundraiser. Participants can sign up in groups of five and collect pledges to ride on stationary bikes for 40 minutes. This year’s Winnipeg event will be held downtown, and that’s good news for Vicki Zachanowich, JDRF’s prairie regional manager.
“It’s exciting because there’s a lot of downtown corporate involvement,” she said, adding that in past years, all the teams from certain businesses have worn matching coloured shirts.
“There’s a sea of colours coming out towards the event through downtown,”she said.
Over 500 riders are expected at this year’s event.
• Edit made at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 — Corrected date of Ride for Diabetes Research from Nov. 3 to the correct date of Nov. 4.
To the point
Jessica Williams, a second-year Creative Communications student with Type 1 diabetes
When did you find out you had diabetes?
Ten years ago. It was 19 days before I turned 10 years old. I was eating lots and drinking lots and super tired and losing weight, and we went out for Thanksgiving. Everyone in my family was like, ‘she’s looking really skinny, what’s wrong with her,’ and my mom’s like ‘no, she’s just growing.’
Then I went into the walk-in clinic the next day, and they’re like ‘yup she has diabetes, take her to the hospital.’
Looking back at pictures now, I look like I’m on death’s door. I’m super skinny. I was probably like 30 pounds underweight.
How do you manage your diabetes?
I’m lucky because I have an insulin pump, so instead of getting four needles a day, I get one needle every three days. My pump gives me a little bit [of insulin] every five minutes to keep me stable, and then whenever I eat, I just press a couple buttons.
What is your advice for other students with diabetes?
Don’t be shy about it. Don’t be nervous about it. If you have to give insulin during class, do it. Just talk about it and tell people, because the more that other people know, the more that they can help you if you’re in a bad situation.