Managing a disease like Type 1 Diabetes can be a daunting task for the millions of children, adults and their families that it impacts every day. To help ease its impacts at all stages of life, JDRF, a nonprofit whose mission is to find a cure for Type 1, is hosting a summit this weekend in Houston.
The Type One Nation Summit, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Church of Christ, 900 Echo Lane, is a free event that will feature local and nationwide experts on the latest information, current and future treatments and exchange information during small group break out session.
The support system that JDRF provides has helped countless numbers of individuals, including Baytown’s own Nick Woolery, the City of Baytown’s director of strategy and innovation, who was first diagnosed at the age of 15.
“For me, being diagnosed as a teenager was difficult because you already have the challenges of fitting in. Now I’m walking around school with an insulin pump, having to check my blood sugar, getting dizzy during basketball practice, etc.,” Woolery said. “As an adult, I’ve had to balance the responsibilities of work, family and community service with a disease that doesn’t take a day off.”
Since his diagnoses, Woolery said he’s had to check his blood sugar over 39,000 times and has had to change his insulin pump over 2,100 times. Without consistently doing these things, individuals with the disorder can face life-threatening consequences, as Type 1 Diabetes complications can affect major organs in your body, including heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys.
For Woolery, one instance, in particular, sums up what it’s like to live with the disease. Woolery said he had come home from a summer morning basketball
practice while in high school when his sister noticed something was off.
“I was pale and shaking. My blood
sugar had dropped to a dangerously low level,” Woolery said. “She grabbed a box of fruit snacks and I literally scarfed down six packages of fruit snacks in less than a minute. To most people, that sounds disgusting, but when your blood sugar drops that low, the body turns off a lot of normal functions including most senses like taste and touch to save energy.”
Stories like Woolery’s is why education, support and research are so important because a cure is yet to be found. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.25 million Americans have this disorder, which is a severe autoimmune disease that is unrelated to diet and lifestyle that impacts that pancreas, producing little or no insulin.
“Living with Type 1 Diabetes brings many challenges because even with the best care, it’s very hard to stay in a safe blood sugar range. You are constantly checking your blood sugar and making corrections by either eating more carbs or taking more insulin,” Woolery said. “Things like stress, exercise, and the types of food you eat can cause swings in your blood sugar, which lead to both short-term and long-term complications.”
“This is why the Type One Nation Summit is such a great event for kids and adults living with Type 1, along with their families,” he added. “You can come out and learn from experts to make living with the disease a little bit easier.”
In addition to expert testimony, the Type One Nation Summit will also have youth programming for kindergarten through the 10th grade.
Dr. Anastasia Albanesa-O’Neill, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, College of Nursing, who also serves as a nurse practitioner in the UF Health pediatric diabetes clinic, will serve as the keynote speaker.
For more information contact Amanda Nguyen at ANguyen@jdrf.org or call 713-401-3151.