Blue Earth’s Garrett Passer had been sick for some time when he arrived at United Hospital April 11.
His past year had been plagued with four bouts of the flu and a 20-pound weight loss that had some questioning if the outgoing, athletic Blue Earth Area junior was suffering from anorexia.
All Garrett knew was that he ‘felt weird.’
Constantly in a fog-like state, the teen saw his facial features become more gaunt daily as he looked in the mirror, but he had no idea what was wrong.
Garrett’s fears worsened while waiting for a diagnosis in the hospital when he overheard a muffled voice tell his mother ‘it doesn’t look good.’
A short time later he found out he had type I diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease that causes an abnormally high level of sugar, or glucose, to build up in the blood. Type 1 diabetes — also called insulin-dependent, or juvenile diabetes — is caused by the destruction of cells in the pancreas, the organ that produce the hormone insulin.
While normal blood sugar levels range between 80-120, Garrett’s had skyrocketed to 800 that day. The teen, along with his mom, Chris, were sent to Immanuel St. Joseph’s (ISJ) Hospital in Mankato immediately.
Overwhelmed by thirst, Garrett drank so much water on the 45-minute drive that his blood sugar level actually dropped to 200 when measured at ISJ — still more than 80 points higher than an average reading.
Garrett spent the next three days at ISJ. Under constant medical supervision, he and his mother received a very thorough crash course in his newly-diagnosed disease. He learned how to monitor the foods he eats, to meter and read his blood tests and how to administer insulin.
To say he was overwhelmed is an understatement. Fear, anger, confusion… Garrett was dealing with numerous emotions at once. Worried his range of feeling was extreme, Garrett asked a counselor if this was normal.
“She told me she would be worried if I wasn’t feeling this way,” he says today with a laugh.
After three days in the hospital, Garrett was sent home. The next day, the junior walk ed onto Schroeder Court for the Bucs. Determined not to let his disease get to him, Garrett played tough and won his tennis match.
It’s been four months since Garrett found out he would be living with diabetes. And, while there have been times when he gets angry and questions why this had to happen, the soon-to-be senior is living with diabetes.
Today, the active teen works at the Blue Earth pool as a lifeguard and will be maintaining his busy schedule when school starts next fall; participating in cross country, tennis and choir. The activity, says the teen, will help keep him strong, adding that exercise actually helps regulate sugar levels in the blood.
Garrett admits there are still times he gets overwhelmed with the change his life has taken. But, he adds, ‘you just get back on track.’
His advice for anyone who may have to deal with diabetes in the future is simple:
“Just because you have this – don’t put it in front you. Just deal with the rest of your life.”