Life’s Unexpected Journey

By David Britton

JailHi, my name is David Britton and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on April 2nd, 1998. At the time, the only thing that really upset me about my diagnosis was the fact that I was not diagnosed on April 1st which I felt would have been a fun day to celebrate!

After getting over a fear of needles and the realization of having Type 1 Diabetes things went pretty well for me. My twin brother had been diagnosed a few years before me so there was really nothing out of the ordinary when it came to learning how to take care of myself.

I felt like I was never burdened by having Type 1 Diabetes and I was always fairly active throughout junior high and high school. I participated in choir from 7th grade through my senior year. I began participating in sports my junior year and found out that I could swim pretty well and joined the swim team. I went on to swim in the 2004 state swim meet my senior year which for me was a fantastic journey and is definitely one of my fondest memories from high school.

Transitioning to college was also fairly easy and I continued my active lifestyle and discovered triathlons with my twin brother. I have since completed several sprint triathlons, an Olympic distance triathlon, and a half iron distance triathlon. Of course, having Type 1 Diabetes meant that I had to alter my training so that I could be safe by managing my blood sugars.

I graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Management though I never pursue a career in that field. I also began to lift weights, though admittedly, I knew very little and therefore saw very little gains from my training. I discovered Crossfit in June 2012 and finally learned more about weight training, endurance, and mobility. I have competed in a few individual competitions and one team competition since I started Crossfit and I have certainly enjoyed this fitness journey.

Life does not always hand you things on a silver platter. Such is my case, though I wouldn’t blame anyone for my actions but myself. I was fired from my job as a cook and due to the circumstances surrounding my termination I was very upset and made some very poor choices that landed me in the Oklahoma county jail for 11 days. This is when my diabetes finally became a burden. I never realized the freedoms I had in choosing how to manage my diabetes in regards to insulin pumps, infusion sets, meters, test strips, insulin, or dietary habits. All of these things were taken away from me because I was in jail.

I was told when to eat and I was not given any options as to what I was eating. For example, this meant getting up at 3 a.m. to test my blood sugar and eating breakfast at 4:30 a.m. I was not able to be active because we were rarely allowed out of our cells due to staffing issues. The medical staff did the best they could to make sure that those of us with diabetes were taken care of but the plans were not individualized in the slightest.

I might have been the exception because I had an insulin pump; however, my blood sugar stayed high almost the entire time I was in jail. The sliding scale that was used for those taking injections did not seem effective to me and I ignored what I was told and even began telling the medical staff what I would be giving for corrections because of my bolus wizard option on my pump. As I mentioned earlier, all the options I had for managing my diabetes were taken from me.

Those inmates in jail who were on injections were using NPH and Regular insulin, if you’ve even hear of those insulins; nothing else was available. Heaven forbid if you were using anything else before you were in jail! In fact, for one day when my infusion set needed to be replaced I had to go on the sliding scale with injections until a replacement set was brought to the jail for me. Most of the other inmates with diabetes were overweight and had very sedentary lifestyles due to being in jail. This is certainly not the lifestyle I wanted to be living!

Since being released from jail, I have realized just how fortunate I am in being able to manage my diabetes the way I feel is best with the help of my doctor and those from Diabetes Solutions of Oklahoma!

I have no doubt that being active with triathlons and Crossfit that I can manage my diabetes with much more ease. As I’m sure most readers know, Type 1 Diabetes may or may not be the easiest for you to live with but I’m here to tell you… being in jail makes life with diabetes downright miserable so make wise choices!

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