My name is Tim Seawright; I am a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1992. That was when my life took a completely different direction.
My symptoms started with extreme thirst, followed by frequent urination, tremendous hunger and extreme weight loss. I had become so dehydrated that the lenses in my eyes had lost their flexibility and my vision became blurry. I went to the local “Doc in a Box” and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes; I was 36 years old.
In the town where I lived, the diabetes education came from the local health department nurse. Her knowledge about diabetes was general and not very up to date. I knew little about diabetes at that time and discovered that what I did know was mostly inaccurate. I decided that in order to survive I would need to learn everything I could about diabetes. I started reading everything I could get my hands on. This was before the internet so I spent a lot of time in the Library. I became fascinated with diabetes.
I owned a barber shop at that time. My eyesight got worse before it got better so I was unable to work for almost three months; consequently I lost over half of my business and had to close my shop. I had never been to college because I could never figure out what I wanted to study. My Endocrinologist suggested that I get a degree in something where I could use my knowledge and experience to help people with diabetes; so I did.
I decided to get a degree in dietetics. While I was in my internship I was introduced to Camp Endres. When I agreed to go I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into; going to summer camp at my age? What I found was a place where everyone was doing the same things I was having to do. Somehow it made dealing with my diabetes easier. I felt “normal” again. Well that was 14 years ago and I haven’t missed a summer since.
Camp Endres has become my second family. I have watched campers grow up, made lots of friends and established a network of diabetes professionals whom I work with all year around. My daughter followed in my footsteps and became an RD/CDE. She started going to camp as a cabin counselor, while going to college, and continues to go as med staff. Although I go to camp to help campers learn good habits, I have learned a lot about managing diabetes from a real world perspective. I am always touched by seeing the new kids come to camp unsure of what to expect and watching them leave with a new found confidence and, long lasting, new friendships.
Diabetes certainly changed my life. Of course there are the negative aspects of having to deal with this condition, but there are also the positives. In my case the positives have certainly outweighed the negatives. I have made new friends I would not have otherwise had the opportunity meet. Diabetes has provided me with career opportunities that allow me to help others with diabetes. I truly believe being a Diabetes Educator was what I was meant to do.