Kaleb Clarke active with insulin pump

PICTOU — Diabetes interferes little with Kaleb Clarke’s active lifestyle and his involvement in sports.

Clarke just turned 13 and has lived with diabetes for nearly two years.

He is among young people being celebrated through November, Diabetes Awareness Month. The Canadian Diabetes Association estimates that one in three Canadians is already living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, including 1.5 million with undiagnosed diabetes.

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Clarke was diagnosed with the disease in 2015. His mother, Wanda McNamara, recognized the symptoms.

“I’m a nurse and I know the signs,” she said. “He had two nights when he was drinking a lot of water and getting up during the night. I knew it was going to change all our lives, but Kaleb was a rock — he was going to be OK.”

Clarke was also aware something was wrong with him. He’s an athlete who enjoys hockey and baseball and suddenly lacked energy.

“I was tired all the time and constantly thirsty,” he said.

Like others, Clarke wears an insulin pump, which he removes for strenuous activities and contact sports like baseball. It means he takes extra insulin to last through those time frames.

“I clip it to the middle of my pants in hockey,” he said. “In baseball, I take extra insulin for during the game and put the pump back on between games when we’re playing double headers. It will affect me in some ways, but it won’t stop me doing what I want to do.”

Diet is important. A bowl of oranges on the kitchen table is a reminder for Clarke to eat when he needs to and to balance the amount of protein and carbohydrates. That means limiting fast food.

“I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, a lot of smoothies,” he said.

Wanda always checks in on Kaleb to ensure he has enough insulin to last a night’s sleep.

“I haven’t slept through the night once since he was diagnosed,” she said. “It’s a constant worry. It’s a lot of responsibility for a young age.”

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Steve Goodwin was born in Amherst, N.S. and has been a journalist for more than 40 years. He has been a resident of Pictou County for nearly 40 years.