Scott Dunton, 20, is a world-class professional surfer, currently ranked 220th in his first year on the professional circuit.
Dunton began surfing at the age of 5 and started competingwhen he was 15 years old in local contests in central California. Hehas surfed the California coastline as well as Hawaii, Florida, Brazil,Australia and New Zealand. He plays water polo and is a whitewaterrafter, water skier and wakeboarder. He also likes to go kayaking withhis dog, Kai.
We caught up with Scott and asked him a few questions about howdiabetes and surfing go together.
As an accomplished surfer, howdid you feel when you were firstdiagnosed with diabetes?
I was diagnosed at age 16. At thatpoint I hadn’t won any really bigcontests or even gone out of thecountry to compete. But a lot ofpeople—even my teachers in school—were telling me that there was noway to pursue my dream of a surfingcareer with diabetes. I found out therewere no professional surfers withdiabetes, and, in a way, that reallyinspired me. I wanted to be that guywho has diabetes and is one of thebest surfers in the world.
What made you realize that havingdiabetes would not inhibit yourability to stay on top of the surfinggame?
I have one of the best doctors in theworld, Dr. Kaiserman, who got behindmy surfing and my health. Betweenmy doctor and my mom, I didn’t needany other inspiration. Once I got itinto my head that I was going to keeptrying to become a pro surfer, theybacked me all the way.
How has the insulin pump made adifference in managing your bloodglucose while taking part in such agrueling sport?
Before I used an insulin pump, myblood sugar levels were really random.I never knew what they were doingor even what they were. Now I use aMedtronic 715 pump, and my A1Ccame down from around 13% to 7%. Ithas helped my surfing a lot.
Before the pump I would paddleout feeling okay—then two minuteslater, I’d be feeling really low. Now, Isurf for as long as I want, whenever Iwant, and wherever I want, withouthaving to deal with the pain and stressof having random highs and lows.
What is your typical diet on surfingdays, and what is your basal-boluspattern like?
It really depends, because I try to surfat least twice every day. But when I’mat home, I normally eat a lot of cerealin the morning and then go check thewaves. Maybe I get a sandwich forlunch and just cruise for a while andwait for the wind to die down, andthen I go surf one more time beforedinner. By dinnertime, I’m at home,and my mom makes a mean fishcake!
Having the pump allows me to eatwhenever and whatever I want. Thecereal in the morning starts the dayoff normally with a bolus of about12 to 15 units. Anyone who has seenme in the morning with a pot full ofcereal knows that bolus is justified. Itry to make sure that I am always ontop of it.
When I’m at home, I eat at a lot of thesame places, and I know how muchI need to bolus for what I am goingto eat. Sometimes when traveling inother countries, it isn’t so easy, and itreally takes some thought. I just tryto make sure that my basal is set fora little extra during the breakfast,lunch and dinner part of the day andfor a little less when I am going to besurfing.
When you give talks to otherdiabetics, what sort of message doyou present?
When I am talking to groups ofdiabetics, I try to tell them thateveryone, including me, has beenthere. No matter what happens withmy surfing career, I will always be adiabetic. And I really try to push themto dream big, and don’t stop reachingfor it, and definitely don’t let beinga diabetic get in the way. BecauseI almost did, and my life definitelywouldn’t be half as great as it is now.