Positively Inspirational: 13-Year-Old Climber Takes Type 1 to New Heights

JDRF and Diabetes Self-Management shine a spotlight on young people living with type 1

Kids with type 1 diabetes are among the estimated 200,000 people young people living with the disease in the United States. Each year, roughly 40,000 people are newly diagnosed with the disease. A diagnosis is challenging, especially for kids with type 1, but many are thriving and living inspirational lives. 
Diabetes Self-Management and JDRF have a shared vision: to promote the advancement of type 1 diabetes research by spotlighting the dedicated sugar type 1 diabetes champions from across the U.S. In this series, we asked some young patients about friends, new tech, friends, advice and more.

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Katie Bone, 13, Bernalillo, New Mexico 

How old were you when diagnosed with T1D? Please describe your journey.

I was 11 years old when I was diagnosed with T1D. A few days before I was diagnosed with T1D, I was competing at a championship rock climbing competition. At the airport, I had to go to the bathroom what seemed like every 5 minutes. My parents thought that I just wanted to see every bathroom along our trip. Before my competition, I felt unusually sluggish so I had a Gatorade, which was something I didn’t usually do before a competition. I’m sure my blood sugar was probably super high that day. During the competition I struggled to climb well. I was surprised, and a little confused, as to what happened.A few days later, when we were home, on Wednesday morning Jan. 18, 2017, I told my mom that I had gotten up like every 30 minutes during the night to go to the bathroom. So we decided to go to urgent care that day thinking I had a UTI. Within seconds, my whole life had changed! One moment I was a normal kid, and the next, something called a pancreas wasn’t working in my body. Ever since, I have been living with type 1 diabetes.

What is the hardest part about managing T1D? And how do you turn these challenges into positives?

The hardest part about managing type 1 diabetes is the way my blood sugar changes so much day to day – even with consistent effort. The constant changes in blood sugar to foods, exercise, the constantly changing ratios….and just having to manage everything, every day – especially at practice. I turn the lows of diabetes into positives by being involved in my local T1D community, meeting kids newly diagnosed to encourage them, decorating my insulin pumps, being a youth ambassador and now having friends with T1D, and this year, I am the 2019 JDRF Children’s Congress Delegate from New Mexico. That means I get to go to Washington, D.C. in July to share my story and advocate for kids living with T1D! I’m super excited about that positive that came because of T1D!

How did you become involved with the JDRF?

About two months after I was diagnosed, my parents found out that the JDRF New Mexico Annual Gala was coming up. They were looking for volunteers so we decided to volunteer and learn about what was going on in our T1D community.  After that, I became a JDRF youth ambassador for the following year.

Any JDRF community service projects or initiatives?  

As a youth ambassador, I have participated as a volunteer now at three galas and two walks. As ambassadors, each year we create a project to be auctioned off at our gala. This year we created three paintings about living well and following our dreams. We create flags for our golf event and we share our story in the community. This year, I gave my first speech inviting business men and women to donate for our annual walk fundraiser.

What have you found to be the most useful diabetes technology?

The insulin pump is probably the most useful diabetes technology for me, because I push a few buttons and am able to give myself insulin. It’s way better than the sometimes eight injections I would get in a day – before I had a pump.

How do your friends and family support you?

My parents have always made sure I could still achieve anything I wanted, we just had to figure out HOW. My friends always want to learn more about type 1, even though they don’t truly get it, they try to understand and be supportive of me. My climbing coach visited me in the hospital, a few of my friends and teammates also came. My team made a sign to encourage me when I was diagnosed. I am very lucky and incredibly grateful to have great people around me.

What are some of your favorite activities?

Some of my favorite activities are rock climbing, ninja obstacle training, art, and photography.

What is your favorite diabetes-friendly meal and why?

My favorite diabetes-friendly meal is salad. First, I love salad, and second, it usually doesn’t have carbohydrates, so I can eat as much as I want, and not go high.

What advice would you give to someone your age who is newly diagnosed with T1D?

My advice to a newly diagnosed kid is to not be afraid. That you can still do anything you set out to do in your life.

Want to learn more about caring for a child with type 1 diabetes? Read “Top 10 Tips for Better Blood Glucose Control,” “Writing a Section 504 Plan for Diabetes” and “Be Aware of Hypoglycemia Unawarness.”

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