Thriving with Diabetes: My Young Triathlete

Posted by doni on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:21 in

In Podder Talk, we like to share inspirational stories of people who are not only living well with diabetes, but also thriving with it. In a “Thriving with Diabetes” series, we will be showcasing accounts of people who have turned their diabetes diagnosis into a strength and form of motivation.

Mia-Kealey-Triathalon-with-Diabetes
Mia is physically and mentally strong!

My daughter Mia has always loved swimming. Three years ago, she set a goal to make the swim team at our local YMCA. Unfortunately, swimming is the one activity that seems to make her blood sugar drop faster than any other, but she loves it so much she does what she must to make sure she can participate. Her hard work paid off and she made the swim team two years ago - on her birthday!

Swimming Practice with Diabetes

Being an athlete with diabetes isn’t easy. Mia’s swim practices are currently an hour and a half long, four days a week. It took several weeks to figure out a balance between the intense level of activity, and her insulin and food. She still gets out of the pool every 30 minutes to check her blood sugar and have a snack if needed, but she always gets right back to practice as soon as she can. Mia’s coaches and teammates are supportive of her, but don’t make a big deal about her diabetes, which helps her feel like she fits in.

Not Letting Diabetes Hold Her Back

"You can accomplish anything you want to, you just have to take better care of yourself than most other people."

Around the time Mia decided to join the swim team, I got involved in the sport of triathlon. Mia decided she wanted to get involved too. She started competing in indoor triathlons at the local YMCAs two years ago. This year she won first place in her age group for completing a series of six indoor triathlons. Last June, Mia competed in her first outdoor tri, an IronKids race in Lawrence, Kansas. She won third place in her age group and a spot to compete in nationals in Des Moines, Iowa at the end of August.

Before nationals Mia was supposed to compete in IronKids Boulder, Colorado. Her blood sugar ran high all morning on race day and, 10 minutes before the start, she burst into tears because she felt sick to her stomach and knew she probably had ketones. Sure enough, they were moderate and she was out of the race. This was a huge disappointment for Mia, as it was the first time her diabetes had ever kept her from racing. It was also the first time I really felt angry about diabetes. But, Mia is an amazing, strong girl and after a few minutes she pulled herself together and told me this experience was just going to motivate her that much more for nationals.

Sure enough, later that month we went to Des Moines and she beat her previous time by seven minutes. She plans to continue to follow in my footsteps by completing an Ironman triathlon: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.

Being Active with an Insulin Pump

When Mia wanted to get on an insulin pump, we went to a class and looked at all the options. She liked the Omnipod because it doesn’t have tubing. She’s worn the Omnipod for five years now and loves the fact that she can swim and compete in triathlons without having to worry about connecting and disconnecting her pump.

Although her diabetes diagnosis was overwhelming and life-changing, from the beginning, we as a family adopted the attitude of the ICU nurse who gave Mia her first insulin shot: “You can accomplish anything you want to, you just have to take better care of yourself than most other people.”

Click here to request a free Omnipod demo, if you or a loved one would like to experience what it’s like to wear the Pod for yourselves.