By: Eliana Osborn
Roger Hurdsman lives in Roy, Utah, surrounded by women. His wife of four years, Hilary, is there, along with his two young daughters, Bonnie and Tess. He seems to be handling the estrogen well though, perhaps because he devotes his days to designing software for the Department of Defense. He is able to spend time with computers and gadgets before being inundated with tea parties and dress-up when he gets home.
In October 1992, when Roger was ten years old, his mother took him to a larger city near their home to see a doctor. She did not tell him what was going on. “When we got there,” he says, “I peed in a cup. When we finally saw the doctor, he said that I had type 1 diabetes.” Soon thereafter, Roger was admitted to the hospital to get his blood sugar under control and learn just what this diagnosis meant.
That first doctor didn’t explain things very well. Roger recalls that he tried to compare Roger’s pancreas to a school lunch tray in some confusing way. It’s taken Roger nearly twenty years to figure out that the doctor was attempting to show the science of insulin production.
Even with such an inauspicious beginning, Roger immediately accepted his future as a person with diabetes. He just wanted to move forward, learning how to deal with this challenge that would be with him for the rest of his life.
Roger’s family life changed after his diagnosis too, with everyone supporting the food restrictions he had to live by. Instead of frequent desserts, especially during Sunday night movie time, they had a lot of sugar-free Jello and pudding. For a ten-year-old boy, remembering a life when he could eat treats without even thinking about it, it was a hard change. Now, food choices came with consequences and side effects.
When Roger was 16, his parents agreed to let him get an insulin pump if he paid half of the cost. He saved up the $1000 by working a paper route and doing odd jobs for a neighbor. “Along with the pump came more education about counting carbohydrates, determining ratios, and the sort of freedom that non-diabetics have,” he says. “No more sticking to meal plans or eating at the same time of day. I could even skip a meal if necessary.”
With that freedom, Roger has embraced life. He attended Utah State University and graduated in 2006 with a degree in electrical engineering. He’s active in his church and served a two-year mission without complications. He loves ice cream, especially “Cookies and Cream,” and is famous among his friends for his insistence on changing his own oil.
Roger focuses on family in terms of both diabetes and the rest of his life. His advice to those dealing with a new diagnosis? Make it a family affair, not something that just affects one person. “It was nice to have my family’s support, where they had the decency to keep the sweets hidden from me,” he says. Today, with his wife and daughters around him and a large circle of extended family, Roger couldn’t be happier.