Imagine waking up one day in a hospital bed, and the nurse tells you that you went into a diabetic shock and for the rest of your life you will have to carry around an insulin needle and a glucose monitor. Now imagine, you wake up in the same hospital but you are a Professional snowboarder who spends most of your year out hiking around in the backcountry, buliding jumps, riding snowmobiles, and destroying all your gear in the process. Now when the nurse comes in to tell you, that you now have diabetes, there is a lot more to consider outside of just carrying around your insulin needle. This scenario is one that Professional Snowboarder Andrew Burns experienced just last month. We got Andrew to give us the low down on his story, and what the future has in store for him and his new condition.
“This past October I decided to head to Puerto Rico for a little surfing between my Argentina season and the start of the Whistler season. About two weeks in I started to get a little sick, and then finally one morning my body shut down completely. I went into a full on diabetic coma with a blood sugar level of 50.5 (normal is between 4 and 10, and above 30 can be lethal). After 4 days in Puerto Rican intensive care I was diagnosed with late onset type 1 Diabetes, which means my pancreas has failed and is no longer producing insulin… so lots of needles and finger pricks in my future.
My good friend Jon Conway’s dad, Dr Robin Conway, just happened to be a diabetes researcher and told me to go see him at his clinic (www.diabetesclinic.ca). He told me that there was a new study that was being done, and that I was the perfect candidate to take part in the study.
Now back in BC, I’m participating in a test study called DEFEND-2, which is testing a new drug that has potential to stop, and even possibly reverse the effects of my Type 1 diabetes, restoring some of my pancreatic function. It’s been a bit of a pain in the ass during the dosing period: right now I’m just finishing up my 8th and last consecutive day of dosing. So each morning, I hop in my truck around 6:30am and drive down to Vancouver where they hook me up to an IV and administer the drug. Then a few hours of tests and blood work, and around 1pm I head back up to Whistler. I’m getting really good at driving the 99… and kinda sick of it. Ha.
Tomorrow I can finally go shred again and start filming for my part in the Capita Team Video. No matter what this test drug does, my shred life is going to be a little different from now on. Testing my blood sugar while sessioning a hand rail, sticking myself in the stomach with a needle in the middle of the backcountry: not your normal scene while out filming.
But hey, it’s not like I have any options, and I’m not gonna stop snowboarding, so accept, adapt, and get on with it. This is good advice for anyone with this, or any other hindering disorder: don’t let it run your life, you can do anything you want, it just takes a little extra effort.”