Marianna- Avery Evans was like any other high school freshman. He's participated in athletics most of his life and liked to pull pranks on his friends. No one could have looked at him and known he was a Type One Diabetic.
"Type one is mostly because a person's pancreas does not produce enough insulin (Type Two Diabetes), or produces no insulin (Type One Diabetes), to cover the food that they take in" Jackson County School Health Director, Artie Franz explained. "The insulin that the pancreas produces helps you digest [food], and if you don't have it then you have all this sugar in your blood stream and it can lead to death."
To compensate, Evans wore an insulin pump and monitored his blood glucose levels. Doctors recommend keeping numbers between 80-120. But too low, and a person could pass out.
"When I was first diagnosed I did have a fear of getting too low. I thought if I got below 50 I would die" Evans said.
But, dangerously high levels could lead to a coma. When Evans was diagnosed, his blood sugar was 888.
"They health flighted me to Tallahassee and I stayed there for about a week- week and a half. I figured out how to do shots and count carbs" he said.
Four years later, Evans told us living with Diabetes had become second nature. "I feel independent about it, you know. They don't really tell me how to do it, I know how to do it now."
He also said it had never kept him from doing the things he wanted to do- as long as he stayed in good control of his numbers.
"Diabetes is a lifelong thing" Franz said. "So if you don't take care of yourself you can damage eyes, kidneys, loose limbs."
In the meantime, organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation have been searching for a cure.
"I hope it goes away" Evans laughed, knowing that was not a reality of his disease. On a more serious note, he added, "I hope somebody finds a cure so it will go away and I won't have to deal with it anymore."
In Jackson County, just under 7% of people are living with Type One or Type Two Diabetes.
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