Wednesday, February 29, 2012

From one racer to another

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is the opportunity to meet others like me who have diabetes. Maybe they’ve been recently diagnosed, or perhaps they’ve been managing diabetes for years. Either way, whenever I get the chance to share my story I hope that I’m able to give them a bit of confidence to not let anything hold them back from what they want to do.

Recently I was connected with Lyle, a 68-year-old aspiring drag racer who has managed type 1 diabetes for 35 years with no major complications. I met Lyle’s nutritionist at a diabetes event in Montana. She remembered me and thought I might be a good resource for Lyle as he starts drag racing.

Lyle, an IndyCar fan for about 10 years, knew a little bit about my story but wanted to know more about how I manage diabetes while behind the wheel. He was worried about possible pushback on medical clearance because of his diabetes (if you can drive a quarter mile in less than 10 seconds, you have to be licensed by the NHRA).

We were both diagnosed after our teen years, and we were able to have a good open discussion about how we manage diabetes and find some similarities and differences. Like I told Lyle, I work with IndyCar medical staff, my own doctors and the team to ensure that I’m safe in and out of the racecar. I also recommended that he give the NHRA medical team a call… it never hurts to ask about specific requirements, and typically most are willing to work through any special precautions as long as they know ahead of time. As I’ve said many times before, there’s no reason diabetes should stop you from pursuing your dreams.

I’m really glad Lyle reached out to me, and hopefully I was able to give him advice (and maybe even a bit of courage) to do what he loves!

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