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Dancing with diabetes

Dave Moller

Two Nevada Union seniors are proving you can live with diabetes and even dance with it.

Danielle Cole and Sarah Metroka are both in the school’s Advanced Dance class and recently performed in the annual “An Evening of Dance” series over two weekends.

While they were practicing and performing, their diabetes survival lifestyles continued, and as it turns out, exercise is one of the regimens to keep their blood sugar normal.

“Rather than running, we chose to dance,” Sarah said.

Both girls have Type 1 or juvenile diabetes, which requires daily insulin injections. Sarah wears an insulin pump for convenience and Danielle injects herself early each morning.

They both got diabetes while at Seven Hills Middle School in Nevada City.

“I was showing all the symptoms, weak, tired and drinking water all the time,” Sarah said.

“I was having trouble remembering things,” Danielle said and was constantly hungry, thirsty and tired.

They were both getting sick a lot, so when they were diagnosed, it was by that time a good thing.

“I was relieved to find out what was wrong,” Danielle said. “There’s other things that are worse that you can get.”

“It was good to know you could do something about it,” Sarah said, “and that it’s something you can live with.”

What they live with is a constant monitoring of their blood sugar, calculating how many carbohydrates are in what they eat to raise or keep the level their bodies need.

At first, “it’s almost a constant guessing game, trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t,” Sarah said.

“I have a carb counter but some things you have to estimate,” Danielle said. A large apple might not be right for her count at a certain time of the day, but a small one could just be right.

NU officials and teachers are aware of the dancers’ diabetes and they are allowed to eat or deal with it at any time. Dance teacher Yolena Holt does not find it a problem.

“All dancers need to eat, so it’s compatible with our training,” Holt said. “If they tell me they have to take a break, I let them.”

She also knows they will not use their diabetes as an excuse. “They’re both self-motivated girls,” she said.

Both girls consider themselves lucky because they know when the levels are going high or low. Many diabetics do not get warning signs and simply pass out, the dancers said.

Before they eat or go to bed, they test their levels by poking a fingertip with a lancet, which produces a drop for a blood sugar meter. Sarah’s glucometer tells her pump to either release some insulin or not. Danielle’s tells her if she needs another injection.

Monitoring the blood sugar and food “becomes more of a habit as time goes on,” Sarah said. “It’s made me pay more attention to what I eat because I have to and I eat healthier than I was.”

Both get annual checkups and are in contact with doctors who monitor their situations.

“When we get sick, it’s a bigger deal than it is for normal people,” Sarah said, because their blood sugars levels are affected. “I had strep throat and had to go to the ER.”

“I had the flu and throwing up and it was right to the doctor’s office,” Danielle said.

Keeping on top of the disease averts the kidney, heart, foot and vision problems many diabetics have. But it is not always easy.

“I can still go through a whining phase,” Sarah said. “It gets to ‘Why is this happening to me?'”

“You see people with soda, cake and you say, ‘I wish I could have that,'” Danielle said. But knowing the consequence is to get ill, “it’s a lot easier not to.”

The regimen remains however, because, “the alternative is to die,” Danielle said.

It also means, “you control the diabetes and don’t let it control you,” Sarah said.

___

Juvenile diabetes facts

– Juvenile, or Type 1 diabetes is more severe than Type 2 because the body does not produce insulin, which takes sugar from the blood into cells. In Type 2 diabetes the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore it.

– Type 1 diabetes occurs most often during puberty. Those with it can have flu-like symptoms, urinate frequently, be constantly fatigued, always thirsty or hungry, irritable, suffer great weight loss, blurry vision or a combination of the list.

If your brother or sister has Type 1 diabetes, there is a 10 percent chance you will get it by the time you are 50. If you are an identical twin of a juvenile diabetes sufferer, you have a 25 to 50 percent greater chance of getting it.

Source: The American Diabetes Association


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