At 12 years old Preston Olinger was the picture of health. Shortly after these photos were taken, he suffered a major medical scare that put his life on a different track.
“One night I passed out and went to the hospital. We found out there that I was diabetic. I had a really high blood sugar of 1,200 which is extremely high. Its normally 100,” says Olinger.
There was no family history of type 1 diabetes, so the warning signs went unnoticed.
“It was just a gradual. Like build up, over a couple of weeks. Getting thirstier and thirstier and then I started losing a lot of weight, like 20 pounds,” says Olinger.
Dr. Cayce Jehaimi is a pediatric endocrinologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Olinger’s doctor.
“Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It’s where the body, or the immune system in this case, turns against the pancreas,” says Dr. Jehaimi.
Once called juvenile diabetes, the majority of people with type 1 are under 20. It can be difficult to manage, especially for kids.
“Particularly teenagers have a host of challenges. With peer pressure and school demands, let alone adding on top of it, blood sugar checks and injecting insulin,” says Dr. Jehaimi.
“At first it kind of hit me like ‘whoa, what is this?’ I never had anything like this before but then you realize its something you’ll have to deal with,” says Olinger.
So fast-forward a few years. Preston is a high school sophomore. Instead of letting his disease get him down, he’s taking it in stride.
Olinger hasn’t slowed down; in fact he’s sped up. Now a decorated track letterman, he’s sidestepped serious complications.
“I always like to check my blood sugar before a competition or something make sure I have enough energy and blood sugar is high enough to have a good performance,” says Olinger.
“We try to preserve as much as possible of all the things they should cherish and love about being a youth or a teenager or a toddler, before the era of type 1 diabetes in their life,” says Jehaimi.
With perseverance, patience and practice, Olinger knows he’ll come out ahead in the long run.