Type 1 diabetes doesn’t slow down local student

Sandman runs in Norfolk during the Norfolk Catholic High School cross country meet. Right before he ran, his blood sugar dropped, so he had to drink a juice in order to be high enough to safely run.
Courtesy Photo

By Gabby Christensen
Type 1 diabetes is no match for cross country enthusiast Troy Sandman, who was first diagnosed with the condition at nine years of age.
Despite the hurdles the condition has presented, Troy has learned to run with it.
A son of Kirk and Staci Sandman of Albion, Troy said the condition has taught him a number of things, but responsibility is near the top of the list.
“I was scared at first, but once I figured out how to handle the condition, it became a normal part of my life,” Troy said.
A few weeks prior to being diagnosed, Troy became very ill. He was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Omaha where his family learned the news.
“It was like taking home a new child,” Staci Sandman said. “There’s a whole new set of guidelines to follow. It really rocks your world at first.”
Now a 13-year-old, Troy monitors his blood sugar levels throughout the day and uses an insulin pump to administer insulin.
Yet, Troy is just like any other eighth grader. He enjoys drawing in his free time and loves running.
In fact, he’s already looking forward to participating in cross country in high school next year.

Sometimes, though, Troy said it can be difficult dealing with misconceptions between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Overall, the Sandmans said they’ve learned a lot about being healthy through this journey, and now the whole family is careful to watch what they eat.
The Sandmans hope that others ask questions and become informed about the condition, too.
“It’s important to learn to be an advocate for your child,” Staci Sandman said. “Making people aware and building your own support system is crucial. We live in a community where there are other children living with type 1 diabetes. Initially, he was the only one and we kind of felt stranded. But we are fortunate to have that support now from the community.”
Troy and his family continue to research and watch for any new technology that might make living with type 1 diabetes a bit easier.
Troy also continues to remain optimistic—and he never lets type 1 diabetes slow him down.
“The toughest part is definitely knowing that it’s always going to be hard to keep my levels steady and they will always be going up and down all the time,” Troy said. “It takes a bit of work to figure out how to take care of it, but then you just do it—it becomes normal—and it gets easier as time goes on. But, I still hope for a cure some day.”
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of stories in honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month.