Benched for Diabetes: Trying to Educate Others on Diabetes Management

Posted by kayley on Thu, 12/11/2014 - 09:29 in










I just finished up my third year of Varsity field hockey and found this past season to be a giant personal challenge. The coach I had is the same coach that I have had for the past two years and I have struggled with trying to get her to understand diabetes.  This season we started an intense conditioning process before practice with a trainer. I found that I was going low – very low – during practice on the days that I had conditioning.

My mom was in contact with the nurse after a number of times when my blood sugars were dangerously low. The coaching staff really did not seem to understand exactly how low my numbers were. On a number of occasions, they allowed me to walk away from the practice field on my own to treat numbers that were in the high 20’s and low 30’s. It got to the point where I was so uncomfortable asking to be able to check my blood sugars that I actually stayed on the field a few times in spite of the fact I knew that my levels were heading down.

After a few weeks of working with the nurse, my doctors and my parents – making adjustments, eating more and treating lows – things were still not where they should have been. I tried suspending insulin delivery with my Omnipod insulin pump, I tried reducing my insulin at lunch so I would go into conditioning a little higher – I tried basically anything we could think of. One day I came into school and the nurse informed me that until I had a clinic appointment she and the coach had decided to bench me. I was surprised and very upset, as we were actively working together trying to take care of the situation and this came out of nowhere.

I called my mom and let her know. My mom was also very upset and called the nurse to inform her that she thought this was inappropriate, as we had been working together and it was unacceptable to decide to bench me based upon my diabetes. My mom was able to reschedule my clinic appointment to the next day. When I informed my nurse practitioner of what had occurred she was amazed that someone would make this choice. She wrote a VERY clear letter to the nurse and my coach explaining that their decision was inappropriate and that if they had any questions in regards to my diabetes and treatment, they should contact her. I felt very grateful for her support and help.

The next day we had a night game and I was allowed to play based upon my visit to Joslin and the letter from my nurse practitioner. Our field hockey season ended last week and we as a team came in second in our district. I worked hard all season and love the sport of field hockey – although I must say it is a little worrisome for me to think that next year, I will more than likely have the same coaching staff. All I can do is try to educate others and help them understand what living with type 1 diabetes is like. I will not let anything stop me from pursuing my passions!

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