Wrestling with Diabetes

By Leslie Franklin, student & staff writer at Edmond Memorial High School

Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone, but one high school student never suspected that it could happen to him. When Denton Huff was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he refused to give up his wrestling goals and instead overcame his challenges through hard work and determination.

When the symptoms first appeared during Denton’s junior year of high school, they were quickly dismissed as the effects of “pulling weight” (losing weight) for wrestling.

“He was very irritable, he lost a lot of weight and was thirsty all the time, but we still didn’t think anything was wrong because this was how his older brother acted when he pulled weight,” mother Deana Huff said.

Undiagnosed, his blood sugars got higher and higher and hindered Denton’s wrestling career. He wasn’t able to gain weight or grow stronger in order to be competitive during tournaments.

“I felt horrible for him,” head wrestling coach and father Darren Huff said. “Before he was diagnosed, he would get tired faster and have a slower recovery between matches.”

In fact, the situation continued for an entire year before an unrelated injury led to the doctor’s attention.

“He got hurt at practice one day, so the trainer sent him to the hospital because we didn’t know how bad he was hurt,” Deana said. “He was hit in the back of the neck so his legs and feet went numb. We really thought it was nothing but the trainer wanted us to go just in case, but I’m glad we did.”

At the hospital, multiple doctors approached Denton’s parents asking if he had diabetes. Since there was no past family history with diabetes, the family rejected the idea until doctors suggested an A1C test. The test result confirmed the doctors’ suspicions and radically changed the Huff household.

“It was surreal and scary,” Deana said. “We wouldn’t have been able to make the transition had it not been for our doctor, Dr. Domek, and Kim Boaz-Wilson of Diabetes Solutions. You have so many questions because in the beginning you don’t know anything and I don’t know how we would have transitioned without access to Kim all of the time.”

Even as Denton learned to manage his blood sugar, he refused to let diabetes hinder his wrestling. Through changes in his diet and daily routine, Denton showed discipline and resilience after a disappointing junior year of 11 wins and 11 losses. Competing at wrestling state became his goal for his senior year and he did everything possible to earn his spot at state.

“For a while I had to get used to dealing with it,” Denton said. “It made practicing harder because I had to watch my blood sugar and if it went low then I had to stop wrestling and raise it.”

Modern technology has been extremely helpful for Denton. He uses a continuous glucose monitor or CGM, which records his blood sugar every five minutes and has become a necessity for wrestling tournaments.

“Just to have the technology today makes his life so much easier than it would have been ten or even fifteen years ago,” Deana said.

After working hard to control his diabetes, at the end of his senior season, Denton was able to fulfill his high school goal of competing at the state tournament. In addition, he finished the year with 34 wins and 10 losses, 1st Team all Edmond, Tenacity Award, 4th team All-Conference, Most Team Falls, and Outstanding Senior Wrestler.

After an outstanding senior year, Denton will be heading to OSU next semester with his diabetes technology at his side. Good luck, Denton!