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Amid rise in childhood diabetes, man describes how to 'thrive' with disease

Author Ben Milsom has battled Type 1 diabetes since he was 17 years old.
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Posted at 11:57 AM, Jul 09, 2024

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year shows the U.S. is projected to have a significant increase in children diagnosed with diabetes.

According to the CDC, between now and 2060, the number of children with Type 2 diabetes is projected to increase by 700%, while cases of youths with Type 1 diabetes are expected to increase by 65%. While Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by diet and exercise, there is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, the CDC said.

Author Ben Milsom released a book titled "The Fearless Diabetic" that millions of U.S. families can relate to. Milsom was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1997. He says his book "offers a real-life look at what it’s like to live with and thrive with this challenging disease."

While family history is considered a risk factor for Type 1 diabetes, Milsom said he had no known family history of the disease.

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"I had life in the palm of my hands, and then all of a sudden, I started losing weight, I started getting very sick, and I knew something was wrong," Milsom said about when he was diagnosed at age 17. "No one in my family had the disease, so I knew I had to go to the doctor and get it checked out. Whenever I went to the doctor, I told them my symptoms, and it was very apparent that Type 1 diabetes was going to be in my future."

Milsom has gone on to have a successful career in sports, working in the NHL, NBA and NFL. One night, however, showed the perils of working as a Type 1 diabetic.

Driving home after working a late basketball game, Milsom blacked out behind the wheel. Police arrested him as officers believed he was driving under the influence. Milsom said he was fortunate not to lose his job, but the incident prompted him to bring awareness to what triggered his blackout.

"That was before I had an insulin pump," he said. "Now I have an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor that tells me what my blood sugar is. It goes to my Apple Watch, so I know 24/7 just by looking at my watch what my blood sugar is. But that's just the advances in technology and how great it's become. If I would have had that technology, I could have avoided that entire situation."

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Milsom noted the battles that both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics face.

"Both these Type 1 and Type 2 are relentless," he said. "They never stop. It's a 24/7 number check, and it's something we have to manage, and we have to fight every day and make sure that we help others that are going through some of the things that happen with other Type 1s."

Common symptoms for Type 1 diabetes

The CDC said people should consider seeing a doctor to have their blood sugar checked if they:

  • Urinate a lot, often at night.
  • Are very thirsty.
  • Lose weight without trying.
  • Are very hungry.
  • Have blurry vision.
  • Have numb or tingling hands or feet.
  • Feel very tired.
  • Have very dry skin.
  • Have sores that heal slowly.
  • Have more infections than usual.