Some Things Are Bigger Than Softball – Type 1 Diabetes Awareness
Glen Burnie, MD – Softball tournaments bring teams and young ladies together playing the sport they love. Some players are remembered because of their sportsmanship, athletic ability, an outstanding play and even the style of their hair, but for Morgan McLane and Ashleigh Gerber, what brought them together was that they both have type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease that affects the pancreas such that it can’t produce insulin. When we eat, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. This triggers the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts as a key that allows glucose to enter the cells from the blood. If the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to effectively manage glucose, it doesn’t function or perform properly.
Morgan plays for the 16U Midway Orange Crush out of Wilmington, DE and Ashleigh is a member of the 15U Maryland Fever 03 from Woodbine, MD. Four years ago during a championship game, Morgan and Ashleigh’s teams were about to face off when Ashleigh’s dad saw something on Morgan’s arm. It was her CGM, or Continuous Glucose Monitor which gives real time glucose readings. Later, Ashleigh approached Morgan and asked if she was diabetic, which she responded yes, and their friendship has been growing ever since.
Other than having CGM’s in their back pockets, you would have no idea both of these young ladies have diabetes and that is how they have lived their life so far. When asked does having diabetes limit you they both agreed that “It does not. It inspires us to do the most we can in life. People think because we have diabetes that we can’t do certain things. We can do anything we want.”
Although Morgan and Ashleigh have a positive mindset now, learning and adjusting to their diagnosis was difficult. They were both seven when they were diagnosed. Ashleigh said, “I had no idea what was going on. I thought to myself, I can’t do anything. My life is over. I lost 8 pounds in 6 days, was thirsty and going to the bathroom all the time. My parents told me I had type 1 diabetes and it was hard to adjust. When I started playing softball I learned how to take care of it.” Morgan said, “I collapsed on New Year’s Day and went to the hospital where they told me I had type 1 diabetes. I was freaked out and thought it would ruin my life. I thought I would be upset forever.”
Playing softball gives both Morgan and Ashleigh an escape but also brings challenges. If they don’t control their blood sugar levels every inning it can be life threatening. Morgan and Ashleigh need to balance playing at a competitive level in a grueling hot weather sport and making sure they have enough insulin and carbohydrates to safely perform. When their blood sugar is low, Ashleigh says she “starts getting dizzy and lightheaded and feel like I’m about to faint. My legs get weak and sometimes my tongue will go numb and it will spread to my lips and around my mouth.” When this occurs, all Morgan and Ashleigh think about is not getting taken out of the game. Morgan says, “being low is the worst thing, especially when you’re about to go in the field. I think they’re going to pull me out of the game if I don’t get my blood sugar up in time. Don’t let my diabetes stop me from going out in the field.”
It is hard not to be impressed with how these young ladies carry themselves and their outlook on life. They have not let diabetes limit them in any way. When asked about their future goals, they smiled and both said they would like to play softball in college. Ashleigh said, “My main goal is to work for a diabetes organization helping with research. I want to study communications and non-profits. I don’t care where I work but I want to be helping others going through what I went through because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. I was lost and felt alone and it’s important to have someone that knows what you’re going through like Morgan is to me.”
Sometimes it is easy to make excuses and quit and be a victim but Morgan and Ashleigh have chosen the mindset of perseverance, courage, and grit. They have used a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes to make them stronger, forge their friendship, and give their dreams and plans a direction to make others with diabetes not feel alone. Morgan and Ashleigh may not win every game on the softball field, but both are proving they are winners every day in their lives.