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Diabetes Won't Slow Down Racer Charlie Kimball

The pro Indycar driver didn't let a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis end his career.

On October 16th, 2007, Kimball went in for a general doctor's visit. “I had a skin rash on my arm. I recall I was hoping he could look at it.”

The doctor took a look at it, and prescribed a cream, then asked if he had anything else going on.

“I had been really thirsty lately, and he said 'OK, well how thirsty is really thirsty?' I said, I’m drinking maybe 7-10 bottles of water at night and I kind of have to go to the bathroom all the time” says Kimball.

Kimball assumed it was due to his diet—but when the doctor asked him to step on to a scale, something very alarming came up. Just five days earlier Charlie Kimball had hopped on a scale at a track weigh in. Less than 60 hours later, he had lost 25 pounds.

Kimball recalls the doctor's words: "I want to do some other tests and draw some blood but I think you have diabetes.” Admitting he was a bit ignorant about diabetes, Kimball was unsure about what this diagnosis exactly meant so he went to a specialist in Oxford, London, unsure if he would ever be able to race again. Kimball broached his main concern upon meeting with the specialist. "I’m a professional racing car driver: am I ever going to be able to get back into a race car?"

The doctor looked him straight in the eye and said, “I don’t see any reason why not. There are incredible people doing amazing things all over the world with diabetes—you know, driving a racecar shouldn’t be anything different." The doctor went on to explain that Kimball might not be able to race exactly like he used to, but he should still be able to compete. It was already the end of the racing season when Charlie Kimball found out, so he felt it best to take some time off. "I took the rest of that year and the winter off-season to get healthy again, regain that health and the weight I’d lost. Figure out blood sugar testing, figure out insulin management, and figure out how to get back into a racecar."

Just six months later, Kimball was back in a racecar. "I had my first race with diabetes in April of 2008 and finished second. I remember sitting at the podium thinking, yup, I’m the same competitor with diabetes as before I was diagnosed."

NEXT: Not slowing down >>



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