Finding The Positives with T1D: A Marathon Story


Editor’s Note: Dana is a member of the 2021 team of Beyond Type 1 runners that will participate in the TCS New York City Marathon. Beyond Type Run is sponsored by Dexcom and Tandem Diabetes Care.

How it started

After I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2020, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I went almost completely off the grid. I’m not sure if I was embarrassed or scared, but mostly I felt like it wasn’t anyone else’s business, nor would they want to know. I still feel that way for the most part. However, I’ve realized that having type 1 diabetes is a big piece of my life now and it’s always going to be that way, so I feel like this is as good a time as ever to share.

I went to the ER last year after about 10 days of wooziness, fatigue and most noticeably, severe loss of vision. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in NYC, I put off getting myself checked out, figuring there were more important things going on in hospitals. I’m glad I went in when I did, I could’ve lost my vision entirely or gone into even more significant or fatal diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

24 hours later, I learned I had type 1 diabetes and was prescribed more meds than I’ve ever had before in my life. I knew nothing about diabetes. Anything I had heard was from incorrect and negative mainstream messages (which I realized was about type 2). 

I was told that my pancreas stopped working completely randomly, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. Some doctors told me an asymptomatic case of COVID could have caused the disease. Who knows? For those who are as unaware as I was, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a necessary hormone that allows sugar to enter the cells. In basic language: pancreas went to crap, no insulin, any sugar in my body builds up and up and up creating serious complications. The short-term side effects stink. The long-term effects are serious, but I’m motivated to make those as irrelevant as possible.

A new life with type 1 diabetes (T1D)

Sticking needles in my legs in public, pricking my fingers and overhauling my diet to keto are all fun things I never thought I’d be doing every day. On the flip side, I occasionally get to scarf down ice cream when my blood sugar drops.

It’s been a difficult year for many people and for many different reasons and I guess this is my thing to deal with. I still struggle every day with the simplest tasks. Injecting the correct amount of insulin before every meal. Avoiding hypoglycemia and passing out on a sidewalk. Getting a decent night’s sleep without my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) blaring at me in the middle of the night because of my blood sugar. It’s physically exhausting, but even more so mentally.

Finding the positives

With all that being said, I’m starting to find positives in this new life and one of the biggest is joining the Beyond Type 1 Marathon team. Even though I’m still very new to this disease and in the early stages of managing it, I figured what could go wrong in running a marathon. I joke, but I know that if I can finish 26.2 miles while also controlling my blood sugar, all the other stuff won’t seem as hard. 

I have no family history and got type 1 at 23, much older than the common diagnosis age for kids. You can take 30 seconds if you want to look at the type 1 warning signs, I know I wouldn’t have but here they are.

If you made it this far, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to read, it means a lot.

Dana is raising money for Beyond Type 1 through Beyond Type Run—his fundraising will make a real difference in the lives of those living with T1D.

WRITTEN BY Dana Grey, POSTED 11/01/21, UPDATED 12/07/22

Dana is a member of the 2021 Beyond Type Run Team and lives with type 1 diabetes.