back country skier with t-1 diabetes

Nick DeNunzio: Back Country Skier and Outdoor Enthusiast


In this episode, Brian talks with outdoor enthusiast and back country skier Nick DeNunzio.  We discuss Nick's diagnosis, love for the outdoors, and how he continues to pursue his passion of skiing in remote areas with T1 Diabetes.

Backcountry skiing is an extremely physically demanding sports, one that many people will never advise a Type-1 diabetic to engage in. But not for Nick DeNunzio, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah. Nick has been diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes for more than 12 years and received his diagnosis when he was 26, but he hasn’t relented in doing what he loves: backcountry sports.

Nick was 26 when he was diagnosed, and he lived in denial for the first few months after his diagnosis. He could not come to terms with diagnosis, waiting almost a week after he was given insulin before he took his first shot.

Nick had the classic diabetes symptoms and even had a seizure before he realized what was going on. Originally, he was misdiagnosed with Type-2 diabetes but, after months of doing everything his doctors prescribed, he wasn’t getting any better. It was after he returned for another round of testing, years later, that he was told that he had Type-1 diabetes.

Nick’s diagnosis was hard for him, he confesses, because he had suffered from bulimia when he was in college. So, being told he had to take insulin regularly required a major mental shift.

For a while, he didn’t go to the doctor because he couldn’t come to terms with his health. However, after months of denial, he accepted his reality and decided to take charge of his health.

The dietary and lifestyle changes Nick had to undergo were quite tough for him, but he adjusted accordingly.

Nick says that being a Type-1 diabetic makes you “emotionally drunk” because, when he was first diagnosed, he blamed himself for being Type-1 diabetic. He had thought he had done something to be Type-1, but he soon realized that it was not his fault.

Nick feels frustrated on the days when Nick does everything he should to keep his glucose levels stable but somehow experience hypoglycemia, but he says he has learned that it’s not his fault that his blood sugar and insulin levels are not stable. After all, it can seem like diabetes can have a mind of its own sometimes.

Nick is happy for the invention of CGM as it has helped managing his Type-1 diabetes easier.

When he was asked what technology that he hopes would be invented to further help Type-1 diabetics, Nick says he’s heard of a kind of tattoo that changes color when blood sugar increases.

Nick has also had issues where his insulin was not stored at the proper temperature, and when he injected the insulin it didn’t do what it was supposed to. A way to easily check changing sugar levels in real-time would be great, Nick says.

Finally, Nick advises people living with Type-1 diabetes to take responsibility for their health and remember that they’re doing an amazing job already.

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