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Great article about diabetic athletes

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Beach bum, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. Beach bum

    Beach bum Approved members

    Nov 17, 2005
    Here is great story about overcoming the challenges of D and doing what you love:


    Local athletes overcome diabetes to dominate between the lines

    By Joe Marchilena

    Cabinet staff

    Rich Lapham and Peter VonIderstine have a lot in common.

    And while the two high school seniors share an athletic interest on the field — Lapham played four years of football at Souhegan High while VonIderstine did the same at Milford — they also have a common bond off it.

    Both Lapham and VonIderstine are Type 1 diabetics. VonIderstine first learned of his condition at the age of 6; Lapham was diagnosed in the middle of basketball season when he was in seventh grade.

    Typically discovered before adulthood, Type 1 diabetes affects approximately one in ever 400 to 500 children in the United States, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. The disease destroys the body’s ability to produce insulin, which is used to break down and store energy from foods.

    While not too many students in one school may have diabetes, it’s even less common to find an afflicted person out on a varsity athletic team. Throughout their high school careers, both Lapham and VonIderstine have surprised people with their ability to perform despite their condition.

    “I tell other diabetics that I play three sports,” said VonIderstine, who used to play basketball for the Spartans along with baseball and football. “A lot of people are surprised to hear it. I stayed a lot healthier than the stereotypical diabetic.”

    As a youngster who didn’t quite understand what was going on, VonIderstine was unsure why he wasn’t allowed to have the cake or candy that his friends would get to enjoy.

    It was a struggle at times to figure out what he could and couldn’t eat and how much insulin he needed to take. All of his coaches and teammates had to be informed of what symptoms to look out for out on the playing field.

    But since that time, advancements in the treatment of diabetes have improved so much that taking care of himself is something that has become commonplace.

    “Now it’s like I don’t even notice it,” he said. “I still have to have a snack before I play to make sure my blood sugar stays level. Other than that, I’m fine throughout a football game; I can last throughout a baseball game.”

    For Lapham, who also played basketball for the Sabers, the discovery didn’t come until he was almost a teenager. It was Lapham’s grandmother, who is also a diabetic, who recognized the weight loss and dehydration as symptoms of the disease.

    “She checked my blood sugar and it was 500,” he said. “We knew something was up.

    “I felt like I needed water breaks more because my mouth was constantly dry. I found myself at the water fountain every chance I could during practice.”

    Because he was older than VonIderstine, Lapham could understand what diabetes was. He just didn’t know what he was dealing with.

    “All you think about is the bad,” he said. “When you get diagnosed with a disease that’s going to change you for the rest of your life, you can’t help but think that it’s going to be a real bad, bad thing.”

    That reason alone is why the two want to be able to inform other teenagers that they can lead normal lives despite the risks involved.

    Lapham decided to devote his senior project to teaching people how diabetes affects an athlete physically and emotionally.

    VonIderstine would like to someday be a “role model and show kids that diabetes doesn’t have to slow you down.” Having gone to diabetic camps as a child, he saw firsthand how afraid some parents were at letting their children lead active lives.

    “We’d participate in activities and it seemed, for most of these kids, these were the only activities they had ever done,” he said. “I don’t know if they are afraid of what’s going to happen or are afraid of the risks.”

    Of the sports they participate in, both Lapham and VonIderstine agree that basketball is the one that gives them the most trouble. The constant running does more than the physical exertion on the football field.

    “I feel bad because if I have a low blood sugar, then I can’t play,” Lapham said. “It’s hard because I’m not sitting on the sideline with a bag of ice on my ankle, I’m just sitting there waiting for my blood sugar to come up.”

    VonIderstine’s closest calls seemed to come while on the basketball courts.

    “I’d get a little dehydrated. My blood sugar would go high,” he said. “I’d take insulin to make it come low … but I’d drop too low. I had a few very low blood sugars that scared my mom.”

    And in a couple of weeks, both Lapham and VonIderstine will be on their way to college to scare their opponents. Lapham received a scholarship to play football at Boston College while VonIderstine is still trying to decide between the University of Hartford, Merrimack College and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

    If the two become successful college athletes, it won’t be the first thing they have in common
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2006
  2. allisa

    allisa Approved members

    Jan 13, 2006
    thanks for the great article...interesting that Basketball was the sport that caused the lowest blood sugars.....I'm printing this to show my son !!

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