I’m a Tulsa Kid: Jack Maricle

Eleven-year-old Jack Maricle plays competitive soccer and started playing football last year. He enjoys history and science class, plays the piano, sings and has a dream of someday appearing on Saturday Night Live. Yet, everyday when he rolls out of bed to get ready for school, the first thing Jack does is check his blood glucose level. Jack was diagnosed two years ago with type 1 diabetes. He was recently selected as an Oklahoma delegate for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation‘s Children’s Congress and will travel to Washington, D.C. this summer to speak to members of the United States Congress about the importance of funding research toward a cure.

Jack Maricle

Q: How did you feel physically before you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? What were some of your symptoms?

A: Before I was diagnosed, I was very thirsty. It felt like I couldn’t get enough to drink and then I started to wet my bed a lot. I also lost a lot of weight in just a couple of weeks and felt really tired and run down. I just didn’t feel like myself.

Q: After you were diagnosed, what type of guidance and advice did you receive from doctors and other sources about managing your disease?

A: After I was diagnosed, we met with my endocrinologist, a diabetes educator, a dietician and nurses who walked me through step by step how to test my blood sugar and figure how much insulin to take. It was pretty scary to learn that I would deal with this disease for the rest of my life. Giving myself insulin is not a cure, but it’s the only thing that will keep me alive. Right now there is no cure for my disease. I also go to a summer camp just for type 1s; every camper and staff member has the illness, so it’s great to be able to spend time with others and talk about life with it.

Q: You have raised $25,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. How have you done that?

A: My mom told me the only way to find a cure is through research, and the only way scientists can study is to have lots of money. I can’t cure type 1, but I hope to raise enough money to help find that cure. Every year I have a great group of friends and family, from all over the country, that donate money to my team, The Jack Pack, and we race in the JDRF Walk for a Cure. I’ve raised the most money in Tulsa for the past two years. My friends are really supportive and make it a fun day where I don’t have to think about my disease and can just be a normal kid. I’ve also worked with my mom to put together fundraising events, like boat rides and paint ball at the Tulsa Boat, Sport & Travel Show. And my little sister, Kate, helps me with a lemonade stand in the summer, and we sell some of our toys and donate the money. We also take some of our allowance and donate it to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

My parents and I are always thinking about new ways to raise money and tell people about type 1 diabetes. It’s very different from type 2, and not many people understand about it so that’s important when I’m raising money. So if you are reading this right now, it’d be pretty cool for you to send a check to JDRF – thanks!

I’ve also been chosen as the Oklahoma Representative for Children’s Congress, and this summer I’m traveling to Washington, D.C. to speak with our congressmen about type 1 and how important it is for my government to help fund research toward a cure.  I’m really excited about that and proud to represent my state.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who recently was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes?

A: If you are diagnosed with type 1, it’s gonna be okay. There will be scary days, like when I had a seizure from low blood sugar, but there are a lot more good days. And you’ll get used to it, but try not to look at the needle when you inject yourself. It’ll freak you out! Also remember there are lots of people trying to find a cure, and I just believe they are going to find it, and we’re all going to be okay!

Jack Maricle: A Typical Day with Type 1 Diabetes

6:00 a.m. – Wake up and check blood glucose (bg).

7:00 a.m. – Breakfast – inject insulin before I eat or drink anything. By the way, I can eat anything I want. It’s not true that Type 1s can’t eat sugar!

10:00 a.m. – Leave class to go to nurse and check bg. Eat a 15 carb snack and race back to class.

12:00 p.m. – Stop by nurse, check bg before lunch and inject insulin (my lunch is packed and carb counted everyday before school to eliminate the guesswork, which also means I can’t just pick what I want in the school cafeteria ;(

1:30 p.m. – Feel low during gym class, have a friend escort me to the nurse to check my bg and have some juice to raise my level. I hate missing gym.

2:15 p.m. – Stop by nurse again for regular afternoon bg check. Feeling good, hurry back to class.

4.00 p.m. – Getting ready for soccer practice; check bg level to make sure I have enough sugar in my body to last the 2 hour practice.

6:30 p.m. – Dinner, check bg, inject insulin to cover carbs that I need to keep me going

for homework and studying.

9.00 p.m. – Check bg to make sure I’m above 120mg/dl; if not I’ll eat a quick snack. Inject my long-acting insulin (at night only).

2:00 a.m. – Woke up with a nightmare, check my bg level. It’s only 43! Too much exercise, not enough carbs, need some juice! Try to get back to sleep, have a social studies test first thing in the morning and I need to ace it!

Wake up and REPEAT… every day forever! In the last 2 ½ years, I’ve had to prick my finger over 9,300 times and inject insulin over 4,562 times. It takes a lot of time to manage my disease and keep myself healthy.