Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fishing with Christian

Many of us live with an Ostomy or Intestinal Disease, and sometimes feel we have been unfairly short-changed with our lives.  I am inspired by a young boy who lives with Diabetes and shows an unwavering positive attitude toward his own life. 

I spent 5 days with my great-nephew Christian, and am amazed at his maturity, acceptance, and attitude.  Christian is just 11 years old.  He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 7, and will live with that disease for the rest of his life (barring a miracle cure).

Five times every day, Christian will prick his finger to draw blood, then test his blood on an electronic device to measure his insulin level, then determine how many grams of carbohydrates he will eat, then calculate his insulin requirements, then self-inject the insulin.  At 3am every night, Christian must wake to test his insulin levels. Christian listens to his own body, and recognizes, understands, and deals with his body’s reactions to ‘going low’ and ‘going high’.  Going low (on insulin levels) means confusion, lack of coordination, unconsciousness, and vomiting.  Going high (on insulin levels) means shakiness, anxiety, and nausea.   Going really low or really high can cause blindness, coma, or death.  Christian is so fortunate to have very supportive parents, and 3 very understanding brothers. 
This a lot to deal with, especially for an 11 year old boy.

Christian carries some heavy baggage.  He never goes anywhere without his regular and emergency diabetic kit.  Mid-stream in activities, between hockey periods, football half-times, or during a school exam everything is put on hold while Christian tests and adjusts his insulin levels, consumes some sugar, then the activities resume.  Sometimes Dad and 3 brothers go together to an event, and Christian stays at home.  At birthday parties, Christian forgoes treats.   Yet Christian doesn’t complain … he just accepts it, and lives with it.

Christian is a gifted athlete, and excels at soccer, hockey, and downhill skiing.    He is a leader (QuarterBack on his football team) and popular at school.  Extreme activity drives insulin levels high, and a side-effect is involuntarily urination to dispose of the excess insulin – somewhat inconvenient while playing hockey or carving moguls on the ski hill.  But Christian lives with it, and remains aggressively active.

Spending 5 days at our remote northern lake cabin carries some risks for Christian, as nearest emergency medical services is a long boat-ride and several hours away.  But the rewards for this young boy to catch a lot of fish, was so worth it.

[ No fish were hurt –all were ‘catch and release’ ]

I understand that diabetes is off-topic for many readers focused on an ostomy or an intestinal disease.  But I saw a remarkable and consistent demonstration of character and enthusiasm by a young boy, just 11 years old.  Perhaps we can all learn something from Christian.

Christian will be watching for comments.  You can post your comment below.


  1. Thank you for being amazing Christian. I too live with diabetes, although not requiring insulin. And like your great uncle, lived with a colostomy. It took me a long time to even grow used to the requirements on my family and my time. It takes a great deal of grown up bravery to handle diabetes; many adults aren't up to the task - but you have taken it and you haven't slowed down. Keep living that amazing life of yours and enjoy every single moment!!! -Heather D. Chicago, IL

  2. Thank you for being an amazing inspiration. When I am having a poor pity me party day it is people like you that help brighten my day :)

  3. Christian, Your courage, strength and determination is an inspiration to all people who are priveledged to know you. Your faith and positive attitude , is to be admired.

  4. Thank you Christian for being a role model - not just for other children living with medical issues, but for many many adults as well. You will go far in life with your attitude and determination and we will be rooting for you throughout.