Mckay: Optimism and T1D

little boy with diabetes

Mckay was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes the week of his 10th birthday in 2010. He had been feeling sick and losing weight, which I attributed to football. I knew something was really wrong when he didn't want a birthday party. I became very worried when five days later he came home from trick-or-treating after just 20 minutes and wouldn't eat any candy. By this time he was drinking constantly, and I guessed he either had T1D or a urinary tract infection. There is no family history of T1D, so I didn't consider it too seriously even though he had the classic symptoms.

I took him to our family practitioner November 1, and told him my concerns. He said preliminary tests looked pretty bad, but he wanted to get more accurate results so we went to a hospital lab. The doctor called back during piano lessons and told me Mckay's blood sugar was in the 400s, and that he had just notified Primary Children's emergency room that we would be arriving shortly. We left piano lessons early, went home to pack a few things, and headed to the hospital.

The next few days were a whirlwind of emotion and shock and shifting paradigms. Our healthy, fun-loving last child had a chronic illness that could kill him if we weren't careful. It would change all of our lives overnight. We mourned the life we had assumed Mckay would have. We were afraid of doing something wrong and hurting him. Mckay, himself, became anxious- especially at bedtime. We took him to a therapist to help him, and he was able to tell her through drawing pictures that he was afraid of dying in the night and that no one would know. It's so hard to realize that your ten year-old has already learned that death is real and life is hard. He lost some of the magic of childhood that week. 

DKA Type 1 diabetes

Mckay is an optimist, though. He got through it. We got through it. His six year T1D anniversary is this month and he is thriving! He is a sophomore at Westlake High School and has a 3.95 GPA. He is in honor classes, and is a captain on the school football team. He started as a defensive back this season and had six interceptions- including two Pic6s- for the year! Mckay had already begun taekwondo before he got sick and he stuck with it after his diagnosis. He earned his Black Belt in 2014. 

Version 2

Playing sports- like everyday life- is harder for a person with T1D because their bodies are unpredictable. One day practice will make his blood sugars skyrocket, and the next his numbers will plummet. Mckay hates to sit out when he feels high or low because he doesn't want anyone to think he is using his condition as an excuse. He is sometimes high, but more often low at practice- running and hitting when his blood sugar is at 50 and he feels like he might pass out. He is determined that he will not be defined by T1D. He lives life on his terms.

There are a thousand things that are harder because of Mckay's T1D. We choose to focus on the positive when we can, though. Life is good. Mckay's last A1c was below 7.0, thanks to his hard work and an insulin pump and a cgm (continuous glucose monitor). He is always connected to these two computers and they work together to keep him healthy. Mckay jokes that he is a cyborg because one of his major organs is bionic. He likes school and girls and football and hanging out with his friends. T1D has taught us that at the end of the day, Life is what you make it. Mckay has made it great! 

athletes with Type 1 diabetes

If you would like to share your story, please email us at

November 11.jpg