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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — There are about 540 million people in the world living with type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is typically found during adolescence, but Cosumnes Fire Captain Eric Williamson found out about his type 1 diagnosis at 33 years old. It’s something he said made a lot of sense.
“When I was finally diagnosed, it was a big, kind of, relief because my wife and I were like, ‘well, that explains a lot,'” Williamson said.
Type 1 diabetes is when the body doesn’t make enough insulin. There’s no cure for the condition, but it can be managed throughout a person’s lifetime.
Williamson said he had symptoms like extreme thirst, frequent urination, feeling very hungry, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss, but he says he also made an excuse for each of them. With his diagnosis came pushback from doctors.
“I was told by multiple medical professionals ‘You can’t be a firefighter anymore and do this,'” Williamson said.
He’s lived an active lifestyle for much of his life, and through research, he found he wouldn’t have to stop taking part in the things he loves to do.
“I just have to plan a little bit more every day and do a little bit more work than the average person every day in terms of how I plan my days out, but the benefits outweigh the work,” Williamson said. “I found for me in my career, the tandem insulin pump is very industrial and it’s very low profile. I just change my site every three days. So, every three days, I give myself basically kind of like an IV that delivers insulin into my body throughout the day. I also use a piece of technology called a Dexcom G6, which is a continuous glucose monitor, so I know what my glucose is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
He says there are a lot of different management options out there; it’s more about finding what works for each person. That’s what the Medical Director of Pediatric Endocrinology for the Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento Children’s Center Dr. Gnanagurudasan Prakasam said he does for every patient.
“The first thing I tell the parents, whatever you wanted for your little baby when you conceived your baby or held your baby in your hands the first time [is] Type 1 diabetes is not going to stop anything,” Prakasam said. “We are going to work together to take care of our captain of the ship, which will be the child, or the young adult with diabetes. That’s the pretext, I start the conversation with everybody. I ask the children what they want to do and decide on how to custom design treatment.”
Although Williamson found out about his diagnosis in adulthood, he’s continued his active lifestyle. Sunday he ran the New York City Marathon. Non-profit Beyond Type 1 selected him along with 49 others to race for its team. He completed it in just less than four hours. This was Williamson’s second race post-diagnosis.
“Myself and the rest of the team were really honored to be advocates and show people that you can, there are no limits, and if you can you set your mind to it, you can do it,” Williamson said.
Watch more on ABC10: 17-hour-long “Play-a-thon” brings donations to San Juan Unified School District band program
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