Parents Talking Type 1: Alicia & Jack Gattenio

Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family, especially when a child is diagnosed. Parents of children diagnosed with diabetes face overwhelming, and sometimes frightening, questions such as: How can I strike the balance between caring and hovering? Will she ever be able to eat sweets again? How will I ever be able to let him go out on his own?

This is the latest in our occasional series from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.

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Name: Alicia and Jack Gattenio, parents of Casey, age 14, diagnosed at age 12
From: Elberta, Ala.

We are parents of an almost 15-yr-old boy who was diagnosed just over two years ago with type 1 diabetes. There was no family history, and we didn’t catch the signs until it wascasey gattenio 200x200 almost too late and we were rushing him to the ER at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Pensacola, Fla.

Casey’s blood glucose was well over 400 mg/dl, but they took great care of him and educated all of us on our new way of life. I say “us” because even though he is the one to live with diabetes, we and his brother and sister take this on as a family. I believe my son, who has always been mature for his age, handled all of it better than we did as adults.

Casey is an AVID baseball player: As a seventh-grader, he made the baseball team at our local high school. Last school year, as an eighth-grader (he had to try out again), he made the JV team and ended up the leading base stealer, with 31 stolen bases. NO ONE on either the JV or varsity teams came close to that number, with their highest being 16 stolen bases. There is talk he may have broken a county record—but no one can tell us for sure!

The American Diabetes Association’s local office in Pensacola (which serves South Alabama and Northwest Florida) recently had an event with our local AA baseball team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, and we were able to receive free tickets for our family. Casey was asked by the Association’s executive director to throw out the first pitch, and he was completely in his element. Thank you for that opportunity!

Casey’s blood glucose numbers run slightly higher during the baseball season, but he has always eaten well, so there were not a lot of major diet changes to make. Since his diagnosis, he has maintained his status on the honor roll and has been in student government—and his baseball skills have never been better. He does not wear a pump, and most of his teammates are aware of his diabetes. I should also mention that my son is an avid weight lifter, too! His dad is a strength coach and we own a private training gym here in South Alabama.

I believe people like my son are the future leaders of our country—whether in business, school, baseball, etc. There is nothing he can’t do and his physical abilities are a walking advertisement for people with type 1 diabetes, both youth and adult. I could ramble forever, but Casey is the new face of type 1. You have to see him to believe it!

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7 Responses to Parents Talking Type 1: Alicia & Jack Gattenio

  1. Mary says:

    You are AWESOME, Casey !!!! I used to play baseball and softball and LOVED it too…Keep up the good work with T1 and Baseball.

  2. Stephanei says:

    Thank you for your story. My 11 year old son was just diagnosed on 8-16-13. It is helpful to read stories like your son’s.

  3. Joy King says:

    I have been blessed with knowing this young man his entire life. He is an extra special person and I know if anyone can kick diabetes in the butt it’s him. Love you Casey Jack!

  4. Lisa Kilroy says:

    My 10 year old son was diagnosed a year ago. He is still on the swim team though. Practice is a bigger workout than the meets. He just eats extra carbs before hand and he watches for the delayed low a few hours later. You just have to learn to outsmart diabetes instead of let it control your life.

  5. veronica nicholas says:

    I just have to tell you that your story is amazing! My son was diagnosed when he was 13 and like your son, we have no family history of diabetes in our family. He played football throughout high school and is now 23 and is a Fireman! I love your ending with your son being the new face of diabetes and your so right when you say that he is one of the many future leaders of our country. It makes me so happy to see stories of people like your son and my son, they are amazing people and they overcome so many obstacles to get thru life and they never give up!!Kudos to you and your family…my family knows exactly how you feel. Every time I look at my son, I beam with pride!

  6. Adam says:

    Hi im a type 1 diabetic from australia as a diabetic you need to do sports it is the easiest way to control your blood levels i played rugby league all my life with diabetes never checked my levels once lifted weights from the age of 16 weights is the best for diabetes if you on actrapid its even better weight lifters us it to get big we use it to live so if you boost actrapid up a bit u get stronger faster i went from lifting 60kg to 130kg in 4 weeks gust got to watch the lows i have woken up on the floor of gym with ambos couple times mothing serious tho just people dont no what to do. I played rugby league untill i broke my knee cap in half. At the top level for my age the whol time

  7. Chris says:

    Nice to see you have beat it back young man never give up the fight. I have been type 1 since i was 32 and i almost didnt catch mine in time either by the time i made it to the ER my blood suger was 1200+ and it has done damage to my kidneys, i am currently fighting nerve damage im my legs.

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