Story by: David Steen Martin on November 25, 2022
Trey Adams is an active 11-year-old. He competes nationally in taekwondo and various styles of dance and practices one or the other pretty much every day.
A little more than year ago, Trey started wetting the bed. When he went with his mother to his pediatrician to find out what was going on, a finger-prick showed his blood sugar was more than two times higher than it should be. The doctor sent Trey straight to the emergency department, where it didn’t take long for a diagnosis to come back: Type 1 diabetes.
“It was a complete shock,” said Heather Adams, Trey’s mother.
Within hours, the Louisville sixth grader and his family were receiving training and education from pediatric endocrinologist Prasanthi P. Gandham, M.D., and nurses with Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.
“The same day he was diagnosed, the doctors and nurses all said you don’t have to stop anything you’re doing. It may be harder, but there’s nothing you can’t do,” Heather said.
The message was an enormous relief for Trey, who has been competing in dance and taekwondo for as long as he can remember. The day after receiving his diagnosis, Trey went to dance class.
“He was like, ‘I want to keep doing this,” said Heather, a former competitive dancer herself. “He took it a little easier, but he went to class the next day.”
Now, before Trey enters a competition, educators at Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute, a part of Norton Children’s Endocrinology, review the schedule and provide a detailed plan for managing Trey’s diabetes — when he should eat, what his blood sugar level should be throughout the day and what his nighttime basal insulin routine should be.
Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute offers specialized care for children and young adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
“Sometimes, it’s a full page of instructions to make sure he’s as stable as possible during these events, which can be days long,” Heather said.
Trey has proven that Type 1 diabetes isn’t going to slow him down, thanks to the guidance from Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute.
“With their help, I won a national title at Dance Educators of America last year and won first place in nationals in forms of taekwondo,” Trey said.
Forms is a competition to see who has the best technique in the martial art. Recently, Trey received a black belt in taekwondo, breaking a concrete block in the process.
“Pretty amazing, considering he’s only 80 pounds,” Heather said.
Managing diabetes has been a learning process, according to Heather.
“We’ve called at 2 or 3 in the morning when something has gone wrong, especially early on,” Heather said, referring to the around-the-clock availability of Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute providers.
Even for someone as active and motivated as Trey, living with Type 1 diabetes can be stressful, and during quarterly visits to Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute, he fills out a questionnaire about how he’s feeling emotionally. Educators and therapists are available when a child becomes frustrated and burned out managing the chronic disease.
Trey starts seventh grade this year in a talented-and-gifted program. In addition to dance and taekwondo, he’s also taken up French horn and joined band.
“If there’s something I could say to someone recently diagnosed with diabetes, it is that diabetes isn’t a sickness. It’s just another challenge in life to overcome,” Trey said.
Trey dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Given his love for music, Heather joked that maybe he’ll provide music therapy for animals.