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Eagle faces new opponent -- diabetes

East Lake's Tim Dresser was rushed to the hospital on Thanksgiving, which ruined his turkey dinner. But he won't let the disease ruin his season.

By BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 30, 2001


EAST LAKE -- By his account, East Lake's Tim Dresser is a healthy athlete. He works out regularly and doesn't devour junk food.

So it was only natural he would question his extreme weight loss. Sure, he's a wrestler and losing weight is a ritual. But this was too much.

Rehabilitating the cartilage he tore in his left knee last season, Dresser worked out to make his legs stronger, his body robust. He weighed 190 pounds when wrestling practice started earlier this month.

Days later, the weight came off rapidly. He noticed when he stepped on the scale. The 190 pounds dropped to 180, 170, 160 ...

After losing 31 pounds in two weeks, Dresser started to panic. A day before Thanksgiving,he went to the doctor to find out what was wrong.

Dresser had blood work done and doctors told him they wouldn't call on Thanksgiving unless they discovered something abnormal.

They did.

Dresser's blood-sugar count was more than 800 (the blood-sugar level for a person without diabetes is between 70 and 120). He was rushed to the hospital around 2 p.m., an hour before the Thanksgiving feast.

"I never did get to have my turkey dinner," Dresser said.

He was told he had Type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease in which the body doesn't properly produce insulin and most often occurs in children and young adults. Type 1 accounts for 5 to 10 percent of diabetes cases.

There are 16-million people with diabetes, and 5-million don't know it.

Dresser was part of that statistic.

"I never would have thought I had diabetes," he said. "My parents don't have it and I didn't show any symptoms, except for the weight loss. The doctors were puzzled, too. They said I had it my whole life, but it wasn't detected until now because I'm in such good shape."

Dresser has dealt with setbacks before.

The cartilage he tore in his left knee happened during the finals of the Pinellas County Athletic Conference tournament and he missed his chance to qualify for the state tournament as a junior.

Now he has to endure another hardship as a senior with twice-a-day insulin shots becoming part of his routine. And there's no way he's giving up his senior season.

"I would have been really surprised if he decided not to stick with wrestling," East Lake coach Chris Waite said. "He's too hungry for that."

Dresser's three-day stay at the hospital ended Nov. 25. Two days later, he competed in a dual meet.

He is also getting used to the daily insulin shots, in part, because he has company. A junior varsity wrestler at East Lake has diabetes, as do two football players.

"It's just something I have to live with," Dresser said. "I don't have to change anything about my lifestyle because I've lived a pretty healthy one so far. Right now, I'm forgetting about it and concentrating on wrestling. This is my last shot to prove myself."

-- Additional information for this story was provided by www.diabetes.org

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