As part of my continuing effort to highlight sports heroes with Type I diabetes, meet Scott Verplank - professional golfer, father of three, and an athlete who is living well with Type I diabetes.
Verplank is often on the road for weeks at a time, playing in PGA events, eating airplane and hotel food, and playing for hours a day out in the heat. Not to mention the fact that it's got to be awfully hard to sink a putt if your hands are shaking from low blood sugar. Despite all these challenges, he's been able to maintain tight control of his blood sugar numbers and stay healthy.
In fact, he credits switching from syringes to an insulin pump with changing his life. He told USA Today in a recent interview: "I was playing well and feeling well in 1998, but some of that wore off towards the end of that year. By 1999, I wasn't feeling as good. I was experiencing all the things you might expect from this disease and rocky blood sugar levels - highs and lows, feeling week and run down, with some flu-like symptoms, and my emotions were a little tougher " and it did not do anything for my game either. Golf demands constant attention and a consistently good mental attitude, and if you feel bad it's pretty hard to have a good attitude about anything."
Working with his pump manufacturer, Medtronic, Verplank often talks to high school and college golfers with diabetes, urging them to consider using a pump. "My only regret is that I didn't get one sooner," he says.
Verplank finished 31st in the British Open earlier this month and is in the running to represent the USA at the 2006 Ryder Cup competition, to be held in Ireland in September. We're rooting for you, Scott