Raising Awareness on Type 1 Diabetes

Written by Debbie George, Founder of EASE T1D Organization | September 20, 2018

When Corona Firefighter Eric Estes had his blood drawn for his job last year he was surprised to see his

fasting blood sugar level come back at 293. Although Eric had noticed symptoms of Diabetes he didn’t

give it much thought. After all, he’s always helping others and didn’t think that he might be the one in

need of help.

When Eric received his result he immediately took out his medic box to check his blood glucose level,

the meter read “High.” Eric went to the ER and was given fluids, 2 units of Insulin, and a prescription for

oral medication. He was told he had “Type 2 Diabetes.” Eric was then told to go see his primary doctor

which he did. Eric’s primary doctor gave him long acting Insulin and also confirmed he had Type 2

Diabetes.

After a week of continued high blood sugar levels and spikes after meals, Eric being a Paramedic, knew

he had Type 1 Diabetes, he diagnosed himself! Once Eric went on fast acting Insulin his bg levels

dropped and he now has an A1C of 5.2! Awesome job Eric!

This is just one of many stories we hear about of being misdiagnosed simply because you’re an adult!

We MUST change the public’s perception of Type 1 Diabetes being a childhood disease. So much

AWARENESS and EDUCATION is needed. This is why we at EASE T1D get out in our community and

inform people that Diabetes is NOT a single disease!

We thank Eric for sharing his story with us and for helping us raise awareness to T1D! Please share his

story and help us raise awareness.

 

*Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic life-threatening autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas

produces little to no Insulin. It can be diagnosed at any age but is usually diagnosed from infancy to the

late thirties and lasts a lifetime. Type 1 Diabetes has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle, is not

preventable, not reversible, requires insulin dependency, and has no cure at this time.

Fire Captain Matt Kearney, Paving the Way While Inspiring Others

By Debbie George, Founder of EASE T1D Organization | September 10, 2018

 

When Fire Captain Matt Kearney was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of twelve, his family

didn’t know much about the autoimmune disease. Matt had been wetting the bed and falling asleep in

class. His father told a co-worker who had Type 1 Diabetes about his son’s symptoms and he suggested

he get him checked out. Matt saw his Pediatrician who confirmed he had Type 1 Diabetes.

Matt had always been an active child and he wasn’t going to let his diagnosis slow him down. Heavy

into off-road racing both car and motorcycle, Matt thought he would pursue a career in racing someday.

However, after two bad crashes, Matt started to think twice about his racing career. It was on the ride

to the hospital in a fire ambulance that sparked his interest in thinking a career in fire service may be the

way to go and, after all, it was his number one job recommendation in high school!

Matt soon became a volunteer firefighter at his local fire station and attended his local fire academy

where he graduated second in his class in 2007. Matt however, was met with some challenges that he

had to overcome. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2007 did not recommend people

 

with Type 1 Diabetes to be in fire service activities, and the California DMV states if you have T1D you

cannot drive an ambulance. Matt was unable initially to get his ambulance driving certificate so he went

and worked for a basic life support ambulance company as the emergency medical technician in the

back. After several months of determination and grit Matt received his ambulance driving certificate

from the Department of Motor Vehicles where he went and started working for his local advance life

support ambulance company. Matt then went to Paramedic school and worked as a Paramedic on an

ambulance for an additional two years.

In 2012 Matt was hired by the third fire department he applied for, Palm Springs, which is his

hometown. With much hard work and perseverance, Matt was promoted to Fire Captain this past June,

2018! Matt’s wife, Amy, had the honor of pinning him with the Captain badge. We congratulate him on

this great achievement! Matt is truly a role model for others to follow… never let Type 1 Diabetes stop

you from pursuing your dreams or achieving your goals.

It’s not surprising Matt made Fire Captain in such a short time, he has always strived to push himself to

go beyond his best and that includes his physical capabilities.

Matt has accomplished many physical endurance races and events including the Stagecoach 400, a

challenging non-supportive bike-packing race that travels through a mosaic of contrasting landscapes

taking riders from remote mountains through a seemingly endless desert, into the city, and along the

sea. This grueling ride is 400 miles and took Matt 72-hours, non-stop! Matt finished 11 th out of 90

participants. WELL DONE!! Amy shares the same passion for the outdoors, in 2013 they hiked the John

Muir Trail, a trail that that starts in Yosemite and travels South to Mount Whitney. It took them 21 non-

stop days; an experience Matt describes as “life-changing” which I can only imagine!

Being one who helps others, Matt had the opportunity to share with his Endocrinologist, Dr. Gaja

Andzel, who also has T1D, that he follows a low carbohydrate diet and has had great results, his last A1c

was 5.0. Not too many fluctuations with highs and lows like many people with Diabetes experience. Dr.

Andzel had been struggling with her sugar fluctuations despite her great A1C of 6.2. She decided to give

the low carbohydrate diet a try and has had fantastic results. Within two months she had stabilized her

blood sugar fluctuations as well as transforming her health. Dr. Andzel is now recommending the diet to

her patients and has started a weekly class at her clinic to teach others.

Matt and Dr. Andzel started a local Facebook group two years ago called Low Carb Talk IE to help inspire

others to transform their health. In the two years since inception, they have helped countless people

with Type 2 Diabetes get off their medication which is great news!

Speaking with Matt certainly inspired me to persevere in our mission to raise public awareness on Type

1 Diabetes and to continue to touch lives and help others when we can. Oh, and did I mention, Matt

coaches the high school mountain bike team, as well as being a fire instructor for the local fire academy.

I’m pretty sure any parent whose child is on the bike team and has T1D is going to be pretty happy they

have Matt as a coach!

We appreciate Matt sharing his inspiring story with us. Keep being amazing Matt, we appreciate all you

do!

Raising Awareness of Type 1 Diabetes

By Debbie George, Founder of EASE T1D Organization | October 10, 2017

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic, autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas produces little to no

insulin leaving a person insulin dependent for life. It cannot be prevented and can affect anyone. Unlike

Type 2 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes is not related to diet or exercise. Alarmingly, Type 1 Diabetes is on the

rise, according to a study that examined the prevalence of diabetes in the United States’ pediatric

population from 2002–13. That study found an increase of almost 60 percent during that time period.

There is currently no cure.

For those living with the condition, Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) affects every aspect of life. It is a careful

balancing act of food, exercise, and insulin, as well as a number of additional factors. Too much insulin

can cause a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and should be treated immediately with glucose. Not

enough insulin can cause a high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), which often starts slowly, but can lead to a

medical emergency if not treated with insulin.

The Corona-Norco Unified School District has made raising awareness about Type 1 Diabetes a priority.

The district is educating students and staff about the symptoms, which are often mistaken for a virus,

and include extreme thirst, frequent urination, weakness/fatigue, and weight loss. Last November,

Corona-Norco USD partnered with the PADRE Foundation, a Type 1 Diabetes nonprofit organization, to

present an educational program about diabetes at two school sites, Citrus Hills Intermediate and

Santiago High schools. The PADRE Foundation’s presentations use Youth Leaders who have T1D to

educate school communities about the ways living with the disease affects their daily lives, and the

challenges they face managing T1D.

Erica Holguin, a teacher at Santiago High School, was happy to see the school participate. "Raising

awareness in schools about Type 1 Diabetes is important because it mainly affects children and teens.

We have 22 T1D students currently at my school,” she said. “If our students know the signs and

symptoms of T1D, hyper/hypoglycemia, and what to do to help ... they could potentially save a life!

Raising awareness will also bring understanding and compassion and help end the stereotypes and

bullying that comes to students who are different.”

Corona-Norco USD has also helped raise awareness through the dissemination of T1D educational flyers

to all K-6 schools and educational posters to all 50 health clerk/nurse offices, as well as posting the

information on school websites.

EASE T1D, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness about Type 1 Diabetes., recommends the

following steps to raise awareness about the disease this November, National Diabetes Awareness

Month: post educational flyers at school sites and on websites; hang awareness banners; include T1D

facts in school communications, such as school newsletters and PA morning announcements; and wear

blue, the official color designated to bring awareness to the disease, on Fridays in November and on

November 14, World Diabetes Day.

Raising awareness about this life-threatening disease can save lives and foster understanding in school

communities. On behalf of EASE T1D, I thank you for the opportunity to share our mission of raising

awareness about Type 1 Diabetes and hope to see every school site participate this November!

Resources:

EASE T1D: www.easet1d.org

Beyond Type 1: www.beyondtype1.org

JDRF: www.jdrf.org

Study: Prevalence of Diabetes and Diabetic Nephropathy in a Large U.S. Commercially

Insured Pediatric Population, 2002–2013, American Diabetes Association:

goo.gl/kHmAJL

Debbie George is the mother of a son with Type 1 Diabetes who was diagnosed at the age of 2, and

Founder of EASE T1D, which stands for Education, Awareness, Support, Empowerment on Type 1

Diabetes. Since her son’s diagnosis, she has made it her mission to raise awareness about the disease

and its symptoms.

© 2019 by EASE T1D. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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