Diabetes Awareness Month: Nathan’s Story

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Diabetes Awareness Month: Nathan’s Story

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Every year on November 10, Nathan Cauthren and his family go to a restaurant to celebrate the anniversary of the day he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They aren’t celebrating that Cauthren has Type 1 diabetes; they’re celebrating that he survived another year with Type 1 diabetes.

One day when he was 6 years old, the family went to Dave & Busters. Cauthren was dying of thirst, and drinking tons of water. He’d been losing weight. Since his mom used to babysit a child who was diabetic, she had a feeling her son needed to be checked out. Sure enough, his blood sugar was really high. Type 1 diabetes isn’t hereditary; he’s the only one in his family who has it. But his family is incredibly supportive, and even as a 6 year old, he remembers his mom trying to make things better by telling him that now he was just like Nick Jonas, who announced his own diagnosis in 2007.

It’s been quite a few years and as a sophomore, Cauthren earns straight As, and plays soccer. He has a combination insulin pump and glucose monitor device that he wears to monitor his levels. Every three days, the site of the pump has to be changed, so it moves from both sides of his back, his arms, and his legs.

Despite the insulin pump and the glucose monitor, Cauthren pricks his finger to test his blood between 8 and 12 times a day.

About five years ago, the Cauthren family started raising money to buy Nathan a diabetic alert dog. Because of how highly trained they are, alert dogs cost at least $6,000. The family raised about $2,000 and a complete stranger donated the remaining $4,000 because Cauthren reminded him of his own son.

Sandra, golden retriever, is trained to alert if Cauthren’s blood sugar is too high (which gives off a fruity gum scent) or too low (which gives off a nail polish remover scent). Her alerts are nudging, bowing, and circling. Often, Cauthren will feel fine after soccer practice, but Sandra lets him know that he needs to check his levels. When they first got her, Sandra would take the Wii numchuk controller in the middle of a game to let him know he needed to check his levels.

Cauthren and his family are very involved with JDRF; as a youth ambassador, Cauthren regularly makes appearances and helps with fundraisers to support research and awareness campaigns. Though he is quiet, he is a role model for other kids and welcomes the chance to help people understand Type 1 diabetes.


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