Heroes With Diabetes

Beauty, Grace and Diabetes: Ballerina Zippora Karz, now 37, started studying dance at the age of 7. At 18, she was invited to join the New York City Ballet—one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world.

Before she knew it, she was dancing in demanding lead roles, including "The Nutcracker," "Swan Lake," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Apollo," "Agon" and "Symphony in C."

At 21, however, Karz was diagnosed with diabetes. The difficult reality of daily insulin injections and blood-glucose tests presented a stark contrast to her childhood ballerina dreams. But she soon realized that if she continued caring for her body she could do anything—even live the fast-paced life of a famous ballerina.

The key to being successful in ballet and diabetes management is testing blood glucose often, Karz says. Keeping good control equals feeling better—and better dancing.

Diabetes Health, June 2000

Kelli Kuehne Is One Stroke Ahead of Diabetes

Kelli Kuehne, 23, is in her fifth year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. Kuehne (pronounced "key-knee"), diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, is a two-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion. Golf World magazine once characterized Kuehne as "the best thing to happen to women's golf since Nancy Lopez."

DI: What has having diabetes taught you?

Kuehne: Diabetes has taught me so much about life, discipline, patience, perseverance, adversity and tenacity. The disease has helped make me who I am.

Scheduling is a huge necessity in controlling diabetes. You have to realize that some days your blood-glucose levels are just off. Diabetes has made me tougher. It has given me confidence in myself.

DI: How does wearing an insulin pump help you when you are golfing?

Kuehne: My insulin pump has helped me tighten my control. It is so exact, and I know how much to cut back depending on time of play, heat and adrenaline. The pump enables me to turn down my rates. This is a great benefit.

Diabetes Health, June 2000

Leave It to Jerry Mathers to Control His Type 2 Diabetes

In 1997, Jerry Mathers, the beloved Beaver Cleaver from the "Leave It to Beaver" television series, discovered that he had blood-glucose levels in excess of 500 mg/dl. His doctor told him he was on a collision course with death because of his condition.

He was put on medication to lower his blood glucose and blood pressure and was instructed to lose weight. He then enrolled in the Jenny Craig weight-loss program, which had a special diet for people with diabetes.

Mathers went from 230 pounds to 180 pounds, and his waist size decreased from a 44 to a 32. He maintains his weight loss and blood-glucose control by exercising every day. He does a half-hour jog every morning, followed by a 15-minute walking session. Within four months of enrolling in the Jenny Craig program, his blood glucose was stable at 120 mg/dl.

Diabetes Health, August 1999

Diabetes Didn't Interfere With Dudley's Dream

In 1981, Chris Dudley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 16. He never thought for one second, however, that the disease would interfere with his dream to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Today, Dudley is enjoying his 15th year in the NBA and plays center for the Portland Trailblazers.

Dudley sticks by a strict regimen of insulin, exercise and diet. He tests a minimum of four times a day, always managing to keep his blood glucose around 100 mg/dl. He emphasizes that, at game time, he prefers to have his blood glucose around the "fine line" of 180 mg/dl.

Dudley admits that he has had lows during NBA games. Fortunately, the trainer keeps a test kit on the bench for him.

In the off season, Dudley says that control is easier. He stays in shape, insisting that exercise is beneficial in keeping his insulin requirements down. The off season affords him the luxury of waiting a half-hour or so to work out if his blood glucose is too low.

Diabetes Health, June 1999

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