Rooting for diabetic U.S. Olympic skier

By Susan Hartley

February 11, 2014

If your family is like mine, you’re pretty into the Olympics. The day the Olympics began, the kids made passports and airplane tickets. We boarded “an airplane,” otherwise known as our dinning room chairs moved into the hallway, and ate zharkoye for dinner after we “landed.” We’ve had so much fun cheering on the USA, but I recently found another reason to cheer. Cross country skier Kris Freeman is part of the Olympic team making this his fourth Olympics. Why do I care that Kris Freeman is making a return to the Olympics? You got it…He’s type 1 diabetic.

You may remember that I wrote about him before. He competed in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been four years ago that I wrote that column. It’s seems like it was just a few months ago. Anyways, I wrote about him leading up to the Olympics but never shared what happened. Well, here you go. “Kris Freeman was approaching the 12th kilometer of the 30 km pursuit at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when he noticed the first sign: An uphill climb seemed strangely difficult. He had been skiing well to that point, and had moved into a top 20 position. Then his body started shaking and wobbling. Freeman knew that roughly a kilometer ahead he had a coach waiting for him with a sports drink. But before he could make it, he collapsed in the snow.”

This came from sportsillustrated.cnn.com. I love how they say his first sign was that an uphill climb seemed strangely difficult. I may not ski up mountains, but the fact that something is harder than it ought to be is very frequently a first sign of low blood sugar for me.

This story goes on to say that he got help from the crowd and went on to finish the race. And this is my favorite part. Sure he lost the good standing he was in, but let me repeat that…he finished the race!

A sweet little old lady was around me the other day when my sugar dropped low. She saw me the next day and gently asked, “How are you doing today?” With concern in her eyes, she went on to say, “I know it takes 36 hours to recover from that.”

Thirty-six hours! Are you kidding me! I’d miss out on half my life if it took 36 hours to recover from a low. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that low blood sugar can have a lasting effect on the body for so long following an episode, blah, blah, blah. I don’t know how long this is because I obviously tone out when it comes to this stuff, but I know it does not take 36 hours to recover. And, Kris Freeman proved this when he finished his task following a low. And, let’s remember this wasn’t any old task. It’s not like he was taking a casual stroll through the park; He was cross country skiing! And, this wasn’t your average low; He passed out! Yet he still finished the race! You go boy!

May this be a lesson to us all that diabetes can knock us down but it can’t keep us down! Freeman said it took him six weeks to get over what happened and feel better about it. He then decided he was going to compete in the Sochi Olympics. He has already competed once and apparently it wasn’t a real great performance, but he’ll compete again Friday.

On the U.S. Ski Team Website it says, “There is a staggering amount of negative misinformation about juvenile diabetes and he works to get positive and correct information out about diabetes — especially to kids with the disease. ‘I like to travel around to camps for kids with diabetes and encourage them to never set limits for themselves because of their disease.’”

OK, I think I may love this guy! Let’s keep that just between us OK. There’s really no need for Justin to know. Insert smiley face emoticon!