Charlie Kimball — Racing Against Diabetes


Security is tight and a veil of secrecy permeates throughout the caravans of massive, 18-wheelers at the Long Beach Grand Prix. What’s at stake is the protection of each team’s coveted racing technology, for one change in the engineering can alter the outcome of a race. But secrecy aside, on this particular day, members of Team Kimball, including the successful race car driver Charlie Kimball, his father Gordon, and his public relations manager, Tip Nunn, met up with Team ABILITY, including human relations manager Donna Mize, medical editor E. Thomas Chappell, MD, 
photographer Nancy Villere and editor-in-chief Chet Cooper.

Five years ago, Kimball, then 22, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was forced to abandon his racing program mid-season. Undeterred, he climbed back into the cockpit the following year and claimed a podium finish in his first race after returning. Traveling more than 200 miles per hour, he’s the force behind car No. 83 for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. He is also the first licensed driver with diabetes in the history of Indy Car racing.

While Mize and the others waited for Kimball, who was in a meeting, Nunn shared interesting stories about the young racer’s upbringing: Charlie and his parents, for example, struck a deal while he was growing up. His mom always said, “B’s don’t race. You’ve got to get A’s if you want to keep racing.”

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Kimball was later accepted into Stanford, but deferred entry for two years in an arrangement with his parents. His mother advised, “You can give this racing thing a try, but if it doesn’t work out in two years, get your butt into Stanford.”

Cooper: What’s his likely major?

Tip Nunn: Possibly engineering. You know, I wanted to mention something about the way Charlie found out he had diabetes when he was in the UK. He went to the doctor for one thing, and the doctor asked, “Is anything else bothering you?” That’s when Charlie said, “Yeah, I’m really thirsty.” So he looked at him and said, “Have you lost any weight?” He said, “Yeah, like, 20, 25 pounds.” It’s not unusual for a driver to lose a lot of weight. When they weigh in for their physical in February, they want to be the heaviest they can be, because the weight of the car is based on that weigh-in, and they know they’re going to drop weight during the season. But they diagnosed him almost immediately. It was an interesting situation which he just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

In the UK, they have diabetes centers. Charlie was immediately put on the FlexPen (a pre-filled, dial-a-dose insulin pen). He was never given a vial and syringe, never given a pump. Novo helped create a sponsorship opportunity.

A lot of teams will let their whole staff go at the end of the season on September 15th, and one of the great things about Charlie’s team is that everyone stays year-round. You have that camaraderie and teamwork. You end up getting the best guys. Also, I love seeing more women involved in racing.  J.R. Hildebrand, on the National Guard Panther team, has a woman who works in a key position on their crew. Years ago, women weren’t allowed in the pits.

[Charlie’s dad, Gordon Kimball arrives.]

Nunn: I was telling them about how Charlie first got diagnosed.

Gordon Kimball: My wife claims credit for connecting Charlie with Dr. Anne Peters. We went on the Internet and started looking for “diabetes” and “sports,” and because she had worked with Gary Hall, the Olympic swimmer who won a gold medal and was diagnosed with type 1, we sought her out. But when we called to see if she would take Charlie as a patient, the woman at the desk said, “Yeah, but it’s about a two or three month waiting list for a first appointment.” I said, “Okay, do you mind if I bring some information down?” She said, “No, that’s fine.” So I took one of his racing brochures down and a couple pictures, because I thought, if she got a kick out of helping Gary Hall, she’ll enjoy working with Charlie.

After I dropped the material off, she called the next day and said, “How about three weeks from now?” She found a spot for him. Charlie was on his way to New Zealand to do a race at the time, so he went to the appointment on the way to the airport. She sat and talked to him for half an hour and they made a connection.

Cooper: Did Charlie get the racing bug from you?

Kimball: Yeah, it’s my fault.


Cooper: I heard you’ve been in the business for a while now.

Kimball: My father brought home a soap box derby rule book when I was 10 or 11, and I discovered racing. That’s what I wanted to do. I got a degree in mechanical engineering and started begging for jobs in racing. I was fortunate enough to work in IndyCar and Formula 1.

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Cooper: Were you successful? Feel free to brag about yourself!


Kimball: I designed two cars that won at Indianapolis in the 80s, and then went to Europe and worked on a Formula 1 for McLaren, which was the premier team. So, yeah, I had some success.

Cooper: How do you think your experience influenced your son? You were in racing and engineering. He races and is likely to study engineering in college…

Kimball: When I was growing up I had a fun go-cart that I drove around, and after we’d moved back from England, my younger brothers had left it in severe disrepair, so I gave it to Charlie for Christmas as a project to rebuild. We straightened it all out, fixed it all up. My mistake was that I said, “It doesn’t have a seat. Let’s go see if we can find a seat for it.” So we went to a go-cart shop in Van Nuys, and they had a race car for sale. We got the seat and went home, but Charlie just kept bugging me about buying the race car. I thought, “That’s something that I can at least help him with.” So that’s probably how he got started.

We did go-carts together, and that was a great father-son thing. We had an awesome time. I fully expected that when the time came, he’d go away to college and that’d be the end of it. Then I made a second mistake, which was, for his 16th birthday, I gave him a test in a Formula 4. He did six or eight laps and came back and said, “That’s the most fun I’ve had in my whole life.” And that’s how it started. And he just loves it.

Cooper: And I assume he was fast, and you kept supporting him because of that?

Kimball: He was good. We went to an institute that evaluates that sort of thing, because I thought inevitably we needed to find out before we spent a lot of money that he had what it takes talent wise. He ranked right up with some of the best Formula 1 drivers. So I thought, “OK, he’s got the talent.”

[Charlie Kimball emerges from his meeting to join us.]

Cooper: A career as a race car driver is demanding enough without a health condition. How do you deal with the complications of diabetes while staying competitive?

Charlie Kimball: The big difference for me is the adjustments we’ve made—for instance, my glucose monitor literally mounts on the steering wheel. So when I’m driving, I can check my speed, my lap time, my gears, the revolutions-per-minute lights, and my blood sugars all on one monitor.

We’re currently working on integrating it into the car’s telemetry so it’ll come up on the dash as miles per hour, miles per gallon, and a blood-glucose number. And once it’s in the car’s telemetry—the car’s data system-we can transmit it live back to the pit lane so my engineers will be able to keep an eye on it and track the lows or highs, even at different points during the race—lap 20 is this number; lap 50 is that number…

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Dr. Thomas Chappell: Most people don’t monitor their blood glucose quite that tightly.

Kimball: True, but most people don’t drive an Indy car at 220 miles per hour, either.

Cooper: You haven’t seen Tom [Dr. Chappell] drive.


Chappell: I have a Tesla!

Kimball: Nice. With me, monitoring closely is a necessary evil.

Chappell: You don’t want to take any chance of a lapse in concentration, much less a lapse of consciousness, obviously.

Kimball: Exactly.

Cooper: I imagine that having this equipment is a condition of having a license to race and staying on the circuit.

Kimball: That’s right. Because I monitor my condition constantly, they have the confidence to give me a license to compete. With that comes the responsibility of treating myself or stopping if the numbers aren’t what they’re supposed to be because it’s not safe. I can’t put other drivers at risk on account of me.

Cooper: That device (large patch, pictured) goes into your arm?

Kimball: It’s essentially a sensor.

Cooper: So it’s just external?

Kimball: No, there’s a subcutaneous wire that monitors my glucose levels. It’s an injectable device. One of the keys to monitoring is having a backup plan that gives me the confidence that I can always keep track of what’s happening. So, if I’ve done my job before I get in the race car, it’s literally just a backup plan, and additional reassurance for myself, for the team, for my competitors.

Cooper: Do you have the sensor on all the time?

Kimball: A sensor lasts seven days, so I change it out every week. I wear it every time I’m in the race car, and sometimes when I’m struggling with managing my condition in everyday life, and things aren’t going quite the way I’d like them to. It keeps track of what’s happening.

Cooper: But you can put it on and take it off easily?

Kimball: No, once you take the unit out, it goes in the trash, so you have to put in a new sensor. But I do shower with it, swim with it, work out with it. Obviously in the race car—as much as we sweat, as gross as that is—it’s not unlike a shower, and it’s not uncommon for drivers to lose 10 or 15 pounds just through sweat.

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When you think about it, we wear long-sleeved fireproof underwear—tops and bottoms—and then our race suits are three fireproof layers, with gloves, fireproof socks, race boots and a helmet. We may get a bit of a breeze, but there’s no air conditioning, no cool suit, and it’s not uncommon for cockpit temperatures to reach triple digits.

Cooper: No air conditioning?

Kimball: It’s just the air over the car. My helmet has ventilation designed into it to move air through my head to keep me cool, but there’s no designed air conditioning unit, because it’s an open-top race car.

Cooper: Note to self: Invent air conditioning…

Kimball: Every pound in a race car has a purpose, and an air conditioning pump and unit are unnecessary weight. It’s not worth it. The other adjustment is actually here in the cockpit. I’ll go around the other side. If you guys want to step in here, I’ll show you.

Cooper: Oh, nice. So you’ve got water and juice down here, and under there Mai Tais and cocktails

Kimball: (laughs) Most racing drivers have a drink bottle in the car, because we lose weight through perspiration. I fill my drink bottle with ice water so I can stay hydrated throughout the race. I also have a second drink bottle, and both are usually mounted in the bodywork on the side of the car. My second drink bottle has orange juice in it with sugar mixed in, so it’s about 30 grams of carbs per four fluid ounces. If the monitor shows my blood glucose is low because of the physicality of driving the car, then I’ve got the orange juice to bring my blood sugar up, and I don’t have to stop.

Cooper: Why is the bottle itself orange?

Kimball: That’s the color of my sponsor, Novo Nordisk’s brand. Different insulin brands have different brand colors. Levemir, which is the longer-acting insulin, has a green label and a green button and a green cartridge, while the Novo logo is orange. The nice thing about my car this year is that the drink tube plugs into a connection in the side of the car.

Cooper: And you’re sure that’s not the fuel line?

Kimball: (laughs) That’s definitely not the fuel line. The tube comes out of the bottle and runs right into my helmet. While I’m driving, I can reach down. I know forward is for juice and back’s for water. And Brad, my mechanic, always puts the bags in the right way so it matches the labels. The tubing runs through different compartments in the side of the car.

Cooper: Because of the heat, you put it in with ice and let the ice melt?

Kimball: Yeah, the idea is that we pack the bag, and the bag’s insulated with ice water, and then the orange juice with the sugar mixed in is made up a couple of days ahead of time, and we freeze ice cubes of that mixture,so when it melts, it doesn’t dilute the carbohydrate ratio. Being in the side pods, close to the radiators, which cool the engines, the bottles tend to get hot. Logically, I might need the orange juice towards the end of the race,after my blood sugar has had time to burn off, so we try to keep the bottles as cool as possible for as long as possible. It’s a very high-tech race car, but the drink bag itself is simply a camel bag that mountain bikers and runners use. That way, even if the fluid is swashing around because of the high G loads while I’m driving, it’s not introducing any extra air, so I don’t have to suck a bunch of air to get the fluid. It works well. And fortunately, I’ve never needed the sugar water to keep driving. It’s a backup plan to a backup plan to a back up plan—safety nets all the way through.

Cooper: But you could drink the sugar water if you feel like you want something sweet rather than the water, or does that compromise your system?

Kimball: It would affect my blood sugars, and I like tostay within a certain range. I start the race within a range that burns off to safe, healthy numbers. And I don’t want my blood sugar to be too high, because of focus or vision issues. So if I’m thirsty during the race, I hydrate with water. That’s how diabetes management works in the cockpit of an Indy car.

Cooper: That seat looks like a tight fit.

Kimball: It’s comfortable for me. But it would be hugely uncomfortable for you—

Cooper: Because my biceps are so big?

Kimball: (laughs) And because it’s custom-molded for my body out of one piece of polystyrene, it has uniform energy absorption all the way around, so any direction of impact in a potential crash, I’m safe and protected. The seat belts are doubled up; one belt lays flat on my chest, the second belt goes over a HANS [head and necks support] device. It’s a carbon-fiber yoke that attaches to the back of my helmet. When we go in the lounge, I’ll show you all the safety equipment. The first belt holds my body and the second belt holds the HANS, which is better protection in the event of a crash. It’s not just for comfort, but also for the way the load reacts in a crash. So those are the differences in my cockpit—my race car versus any other driver’s.

Cooper: Do you have a certain diet before a race?

Kimball: Definitely. Not just on race morning, but the whole weekend leading up to the race I stay away from rich, heavy or fatty foods and eat lean proteins and carbohydrates, including a lot of wheat pastas, rice and complex carbs. Race morning, my pre-race meal consists of about a cup and a half of cooked pasta without any sauce, maybe a little olive oil in it, a grilled chicken breast and a little salad.

Cooper: That’s your breakfast?

Kimball: No, that’s lunch, pre-race lunch.

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Cooper: What do you eat for breakfast?

Kimball: Breakfast is usually a couple of eggs for protein, a little bit of wheat toast, a cup of coffee, and a glass of water. I have a pretty good idea of how my body’s going to react blood-glucose-wise before I eat,so I know how to judge and adjust for it ahead of time.And then pre-race lunch, after the pasta, the chicken, the salad, a little bit of fruit, and depending on what I’m shooting for blood-sugar-range-wise, I may have a white roll or two—a simple carb factored in to help me maintain that blood glucose for longer so that it’s more stable and not up and down. Ideally, I get in the car within 20 points of when I get out of the car.

Chappell: Which is about what range?

Kimball: Usually I aim for between 160 and 180 to start, which is higher than I’d normally be on any given day, but it gives me a margin in both directions, high or low, before I’m having any physiological adverse effects. At a recent race, I started at 187 and got out at 163, so that’s a 24-point swing in a two-hour, 200-mile race. That’s right in the range of what I’m shooting for — healthy numbers all the way through. With racing, diabetes management is personalized for the individual. 

Gordon Kimball and his insulin monitor patch
Charlie Kimball and his insulin monitor patch

Chappell: Most people just don’t control themselves that tightly. Some of them don’t control themselves as tightly as they should, even for doing nothing, much less racing a car.

Kimball: Exactly. I feel very lucky that I have racing; it’s a great incentive and a great carrot. Pardon the food reference—

Cooper: Continuing with the orange theme…

Kimball: (laughter) Yeah, it’s an orange theme. What I meant is that racing is a great incentive for me to focus on managing my health, like getting my eyes tested or getting my teeth cleaned. Anytime I feel off physically, I go to the doctor and figure out what’s wrong. I need to stay healthy to stay strong. And the amount of exercise that I do to stay in shape as an athlete really helps with managing my health.

Cooper: So when you’re in tip-top shape and don’t have to focus so much on your body, do you find that you go into this place that some people describe as “the zone”?

Kimball: Absolutely.

Cooper: I get in the zone every so often when I ride motocross. Can you tell me what happens for you when you go there?

Kimball: Ideally, I work towards being in the zone every time I put on my helmet, and I think most drivers reach some semblance of the zone every time they’re in the cockpit, at least at the professional level. The difference become show intense that zone is. I can see individual rocks on the race track, individual pebbles on the side of the track, individual blades of grass, and yet still feel like I’m seeing the race from a helicopter’s perspective. Does that make sense?

Cooper: It does. What do you think accounts for this different level of awareness?

Kimball: I think it’s that moment where your subconscious mind and your muscle memory take over. All the years of experience and practice come together to create that time where you are simply reacting to everything that’s gone before, except as the moment happens.

Cooper: In those moments, does time feel different?

Kimball: I get out of the race car and put my watch back on and I don’t know where two and a half hours have gone. And then there are times when the first 20 laps fly by, while the next 20 laps take eons (laughs), and then the last five laps fly by again. And it’s not necessarily relevant to anything that’s happening on the track except the mindset and the focus and the concentration and the adrenaline. For me, entering the zone starts with a very specific routine: I get into the cock-pit, put my earplugs in, put my helmet on, hand my monitor to my mechanic to put it on the steering wheel, put my gloves on, step in from the left side of the car, put my right foot to the right side of the car, get in, pull the belt up, have the mechanic tighten me down, the radio check…Donna

Mize: It’s a ritual.

Kimball: Exactly, and it prepares me to focus and achieve the mental concentration to compete. I love it. There’s no place I’d rather be than in the race car, any time of day or night.

Cooper: Somebody was talking to me about my love of motocross and surfing, and they said, “Oh, you’re an adrenaline junkie.” And I said, “No, it’s not really adrenaline. It’s something different. It’s actually peaceful when you’re in that space.”

Kimball: Exactly.

Chappell: Some athletes get to a point where they’re not getting a lot of adrenaline, depending on what they’re doing.

Kimball: I don’t usually.

Chappell: You don’t get jazzed, you don’t feel pumped. You get a big surge before the race, but once you’re going—

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Kimball: Yes, and I used to get out of the race car and have to eat to buffer that adrenaline drain, to have something in my stomach or else I’d feel nauseous. But, now, I get out and I’m fine; physically, I feel like I could go run 5 or 10 miles, but, mentally, I’m exhausted. One of the questions I get a lot when I’m talking to families with diabetes is, “How do you handle the adrenaline spike? Doesn’t that make your blood sugars go up?” I say, “I think that actually I am very relaxed because [the cockpit] is home. It’s where I’m most comfortable and best prepared. As a result, I don’t spike, I don’t get that blood-sugar effect.”

Cooper: The stress is before the race, not the race itself.

Kimball: Right. Last year I raced the Indianapolis 500 for the first time. Single biggest one-day sporting event in the world. A mecca, as far as I’m concerned. Before the race, my sugars were 20 to 30 points higher than I’d expected, simply because of the excitement. It was my first time seeing those 400,000 people, the first time doing driver intros to the whole wall of spectators for a race I grew up idolizing. I’m not surprised that I had a stress response. But during the race, my sugars reacted normally.

Gordon Kimball indy car

Cooper: Just before our interview you probably spiked from the stress, right?

Kimball: (laughter) A little bit. I looked out and thought, “Now that guy, he looks like he’s going to be trouble.” (laughter) Let’s go inside so the boys can finish.

[Everyone climbs the stairs into Charlie’s truck trailer and enters the hospitality area. Charlie brings out his helmet.]

Kimball: This year it’s a whole new car and engine package. [points] That’s the HANS device I was talking about. Belts go underneath and over the top. The device clips onto the side of my helmet there, so the cockpit surround does a really good job of protecting me from behind. The HANS device then protects the forward motion. In fact, the basal scull fracture is the injury it’s designed to prevent.

Cooper: Tom [Chappell] is a neurosurgeon and our medical editor.

Kimball: So then you know what I’m talking about. Here is the place that the drink tube comes through, runs down the seat belt, and plugs into the fitting in the side of the car. And then the tube’s right in front of my mouth and I can grab it and sip on it whenever I need to.

Cooper: And you don’t need to look; you just know where it is?

Kimball: Right. Here’s the microphone for the radio so I can talk to the team.

Cooper: So if they hear you go [slurping sound], they know what you’re doing?

Kimball: (laughter) I try not to key up the radio when I’m drinking, but I did once because the bite valve wasn’t sealing, so when I’d go through the corners, it’d spit water into my face. So I keyed up the mic, and I said, “Hey, guys—this was during practice—we’ve got to work on the drink system.” They said, “Yeah, you sounded like you were underwater.” I said, “I was.” (laughter)

Cooper: I notice you have bugs on your helmet. I forgot you’re head is above the windshield.

Kimball: We tested up in Sonoma, CA, at Sears Point, a few days ago, and then we came straight down here for the race, so I haven’t had an opportunity to clean it off.

Cooper: When the truck delivers your equipment to different places are your people in the back of the truck?

Kimball: No, the cars go on top. The equipment’s in the middle, and the mechanics fly in and meet up with it.

Cooper: There’s nobody in the back?

Kimball: No, unlike “Days of Thunder” back in the day [laughter], the guys don’t actually ride to races in the truck.

Gordon Kimball and race team

Cooper: Beyond traveling from race to race, you go around doing outreach for kids with diabetes…

Kimball: I do that often. In fact, recently in Long Beach, CA, I went to Miller Children’s Hospital, and there was an event with families and kids with type 1 diabetes, healthcare professionals, and four endocrinologists. I told my story and gave a presentation, and I spent about 30 or 40 minutes doing a Q&A session. They asked how I manage my condition and turn lemons into lemonade. In fact, it was really poignant, because one guy put his hand up and said, “Look, I’m a college football player. What would be your advice?” I said, “You’ll still be able to play. In fact, I’ve met a Super Bowl winner who has diabetes. If you give me your e-mail, I’ll put you in touch with him. You can ask him how he does it.” He proceeded to tell me that he’d just been diagnosed the day before. And I thought, “Man, if I’d been able to meet a professional athlete facing the same challenges as me the day after I was diagnosed, it would have made my load lighter.” I gave myself two weeks to grieve after my diagnosis, and my friends gave me four days. They didn’t let me off the hook. It forced me to focus and figure out what I had to do to get back in the car.

Mize: When you get that kind of diagnosis, people often tell you what you can’t do, rather than what you can.

Kimball: Right. A couple of weeks ago at the screening of the film, “The Barber of Birmingham”, we had about eight young boys with type 1 from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation [JDRF] who came with their families. I showed them around the car, showed them my helmet, brought them into the truck, and had lunch with them in the team’s hospitality suite. I saw one of the mothers at the autograph session a couple of hours later and I said, “Did they have fun? Are they enjoying themselves? Are you enjoying yourself? Are you going to come back to the race?” And she said, “It’s great,” and then she got a little choked up, and I didn’t understand why at first. She said, “When my son got diagnosed six months ago, he’d been playing baseball.

But after he learned that he had diabetes, he said, ‘I don’t want to play baseball anymore. It’s not worth it.’” After meeting me and talking with me about racing, her son asked if they could stop by the sports store on the way home and pick up a glove and a ball so he could play baseball again.

Mize: Oh, that’s great!

Kimball: I can’t think of anything better in life than my ability to make a difference, while still getting to race. I get to live my dream. I don’t see why having diabetes should stop anybody from living their dream. Any bump in the road, any unexpected circumstance, you can learn from it and figure out how to make it work for you rather than against you. I have a great team. Not just here in the pit crew. The guys at Chip Ganassi Racing are some of the best in the business, if not the best in the business. So that side of things is covered. And my healthcare team—Dr. Peters, her diabetes educator, her nutritionist—they’re three women. I call them Charlie’s Angels (laughter) because they keep me safe in the race car. They’re always there to give me advice, help and support.

Cooper: Have you met Mary Tyler Moore?

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Kimball: I have not, but I think what she’s done for the JDRF is incredible. The diabetes community as a whole is spectacular. It’s one of the strongest support systems out there. You know you’re never alone, and you can always reach out and get help when you need it. That makes a huge difference. I’ve met some great people along the way: Will Cross, who climbed Mount Everest and has been to both poles; Kendall Simmons, the Super Bowl champion I was talking about;  Jay Hewett, who’s done the Ironman 14 times. The Ironman is 12 hours. I feel very lucky to have met people that I never would have otherwise. And I do think I’m a better athlete and a better driver because of diabetes rather than despite it.

Chappell: Because of the focus you were talking about?

Kimball: Exactly. Don’t get me wrong; if I could give diabetes back, I would, for sure. I think if you asked anybody if they could give it back, they would.

Cooper: But it’s changed your life in a positive and strange way…

Kimball: Absolutely! I never expected to hear a doctor say, “I think you have diabetes.” But I’ve figured out how to make it work. Isn’t that how anyone is successful in life: take the downs and turn them into ups? Plus, I get to race in the Indianapolis 500, which is every boy’s dream.
The Low Down on DIABETES
Diabetes is a defect in the body’s ability to convert glucose—sugar—to energy. We get sugar from the carbohydrates we consume, such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, fruit and milk products, which give us our fuel. We also get it from less savory sources such as soft drinks, candy, cakes and other desserts. 
Too much sugar, which can turn to fat in the body, overwhelms the ability of our pancreas to create a sufficient amount of insulin to process all the sugars we consume. Sometimes the problem is that the body is resistant to insulin, or it may be that the body is dealing with both a dearth of insulin and resistance to it at the same time. 
Two major types of diabetes are common in our society. Type 2, the better known of the pair, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes. It primarily affects adults and is closely associated with inactivity and obesity. For reasons still largely unknown, type 1 diabetes occurs most frequently in children and young adults, but can appear at any age. Type 1 accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all cases in the United States. It develops because the body makes too little insulin and appears to have a genetic component that has yet to be identified. (Something called gestational diabetes can affect pregnant women, but is much less of a problem and ends when the baby is delivered.) 
Too much sugar in the blood is detrimental to all of our organs, but the ones that are most affected are the kidneys, which can fail; the heart, which can go into cardiac arrest; and the brain, which is at risk for stroke. If you have more than one of the following symptoms, ask your doctor to test you for diabetes:
• blurred vision 
• slow-healing cuts 
• erectile dysfunction
• unusual thirst
• frequent urination 
• inexplicable exhaustion
• rapid weight loss (usually associated with type 1)
• numbness or tingling in hands or feet
For those who have diabetes, the amount of sugar in the blood varies widely throughout the day, requiring them to take extraordinary measures at times to keep the levels within an acceptable range. Often, they must rely upon a device that punctures the skin to extract a small amount of blood, from which the sugar level is analyzed. That allows them to determine how much additional insulin they need. Typically it is delivered through a self-administered injection. 
Though not yet widely available in the US, an insulin pen is now in use in Europe. It resembles an ink pen and allows less painful, more convenient injections. As diabetes often affects those who are overweight, diet and exercise can play a major role in reversing the affects of the disease. In fact, recent scientific findings show that weight-loss surgeries, such as the Lap-Band, which makes the stomach smaller and can result in substantial weight reduction, can be an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes in many patients. However, not all overweight persons are good candidates for the procedure. Even for those who are, it is risky and controversial, so make a careful decision before agreeing to it. Diabetes can seriously impair your health and even be fatal. So if you or a family member is dealing with the disease, take every measure to lessen its impact on your health. 

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