By Joe Ostrica
Shortly before turning 11, Karen Krause knew something wasn’t right. She was often thirsty, losing weight and always wanted to sleep. Her fifth-grade teacher noticed these changes when she ran out of the classroom crying because she was so thirsty. After getting a phone call from her teacher, her mother Suzanne made an appointment to see a pediatrician.
“My parents were almost positive that I was diabetic but, I denied it,” Krause said. “After the doctors ran tests I remember hearing nurses and doctors mumbling words right outside my door. Not seconds after, my doctor came in and said, ‘Well, it looks like you have diabetes.’ I remember crying and looking to my mom as she did the same.
Krause’s Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which her pancreas doesn’t produce the hormone insulin, which is used to regulate the amount of sugar in a person’s bloodstream. Krause, who is now a senior at Avon Lake High School, receives insulin through a pump which she wears on her arm or abdomen.
“Some people also receive insulin through injections taken throughout the day,” she said. “When a person eats food, the carbohydrates turn into sugar, which is then controlled by insulin. So, when I eat, I have to cover what I eat manually by putting insulin in my body. To keep my diabetes under control, I have to test my blood sugar 4-5 times a day. A normal blood sugar reading should be between 80-150. If my blood sugar is over that amount, I take insulin and drink water. And if it’s lower, I have to drink juice to quickly raise my blood sugar.”
Despite her diagnosis seven years ago, Krause said she wasn’t about to let diabetes prevent her from playing athletics or being an active dancer.
“Playing soccer is so important to me because, prior to my diagnosis, it was something I loved to play,” she said. “With my dad coaching me and mom my always being at my games, it’s what brought our family together. We were the family that always went to each others games, not because we were forced to but because we loved the game. I didn’t want diabetes to stop me from doing something that I loved to do.”
Krause said now she has to have a lot to think about before she has practice or plays in a game. Two hours ahead of each game, she must stop the chances of high blood sugar or low blood sugar.
“I have to ‘carb up’ so when I run, my blood sugar can stay level,” she said. “I don’t consider diabetes a difficulty, but more of way of showing people what I can do.”
While the Shoregals have had their share of struggles this season with 11 losses, two ties and no wins, the team had a memorable Senior Night Oct. 2. Avon Lake got in the win column after defeating Southwestern Conference opponent Olmsted Falls 1-0. Ali Robinson scored a goal off an assist from Molly Maloney.
“It’s hard to see my last season as a Shoregal be almost over, but it’s been fun ride,” Krause said. “My high school soccer career has been something that I will cherish forever. My teammates and I have built a bond that will forever be within us. The best thing about my team is that we really get along most of the time. We are all truly friends on the field and off.
“A special moment that truly stands out is the win on Senior Night. Our moms put together one of the best nights to honor all of our dedication these past 13 years. All of our pictures from Kindergarten to now really shows how far our class has come, not just individually, but as the class of 2014. Hearing everyone’s letters and memories really showed that we are a family. And to top off that great night, we won our first game of the season. We won that game for each other.”
Krause remains extremely active, as a member of the Avon Lake dance team captain for two years. She is also in varsity club, Spanish club and a competitive dancer at Step by Step dance academy in Avon.
“I’m a teacher’s assistant there as well,” she said. “I help out with younger dance classes and demonstrate for the teacher.”
Krause said she hopes others don’t allow a “bump in the road” like hers to stop others from doing something they love.
“Don’t let it overpower you,” she said. “With the proper management and care, you can achieve anything you want in life. Many people don’t know I have diabetes, which I consider a victory to myself because I don’t let it overcome who I am. Don’t let it define you; define yourself. Movement and exercise is so good for your body and spirit.
“Type 1 diabetes is not caused by eating habits or weight issues. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder that is mostly found in children, teens and young adults. My body attacked my Beta cells, which are cells that produce insulin. It’s nothing I did wrong. My future plans include studying movement therapy to help others with chronic illnesses and help the elderly and disabled.”