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November 19, 2013

Community members discuss life with diabetes

PLATTSBURGH — Though they must carefully monitor blood-sugar levels on a frequent basis, people with diabetes lead active and healthy lives.

This is just one of the many facts that SUNY Plattsburgh student nurses learned at the Diabetes Awareness Event during a recent panel discussion they held with four locals who live with the condition. 

Jill Folsom of Peru, a registered nurse and a volunteer with JDRF Advocacy, a global organization that funds research on type 1 diabetes, moderated the event. Her mother, Pat Folsom, has type 2 diabetes, and her 14-year-old son, Connor Sargeant, has type 1 diabetes. Both family members attended the discussion.

“About 8 percent of New York state residents have type 1 or type 2 diabetes,” Jill said.

Diabetes is a leading global cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and amputation, according to the JDRF website. 

ACTIVE IN SPORTS

Each of the panelists has a preferred way to handle low blood sugar.

Reina Ayotte, 7, of Rouses Point likes to eat gummy bears, and Sargeant prefers Skittles. 

Ayotte carries a small kit of emergency supplies to school with a test kit; a glucagon shot, which raises blood sugar in an emergency situation; juice; and other snacks.

Jodie Lanning, 35, of West Chazy said glucose tablets are like sugar chalk, so she tries to stay away from them. 

The panelists stay active — Ayotte ice skates and swims, while Sargeant plays basketball. 

“Before games and practices, I have to make sure I’m not low,” he said.

Jill said there are various famous athletes with diabetes. 

All of the panelists have to be conscious of their carbohydrate intake, because too much or too little means blood sugar that is too low or too high. Sometimes, Lanning wakes up with low blood sugar in the middle of the night.

“It’s like an anxiety attack accompanied by the worst hunger you’ve ever had,” Lanning said.

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