WKYT's Amber Philpott: My day in the life of diabetes

In Kentucky nearly 400,000 Kentuckians are living with diabetes.

The numbers are growing and so to is the cost to treat the disease.

For last five years WKYT's Amber Philpott has served as the honorary chair of the annual Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes here in Lexington.

While preparing for the this year's walk on May 31 at Keeneland Amber decided to literally walk a day in the life of those living with this very serious and sometimes deadly disease.

This story follows Amber's journey as she learned more about Type One diabetes and how those diagnosed cope with its daily requirements.

At first glance Whitney Sampson and Amber look as though they have a lot in common. The only difference is noticeable when the two sit down to lunch.

Sampson who lives in Lexington was diagnosed with Type One diabetes at age seven and says she checks her sugar anywhere from four to ten times a day.

"Ever since then its been a constant thing in my life," said Sampson who lives with diabetes everyday.

Whitney wears an insulin pump to help keep her body in balance.

Diabetes is a disease where the body produces little or no insulin to help in the break down of glucose in the body.

"Diabetes is extremely overwhelming, its also extremely complicated. Just when you think you have it figured out something else crops up. Diabetes affects everything from head to toe," said Diane Ballard, a registered nurse and Diabetes Educator at Baptist Health.

In April Amber began her day in the life of diabetes at 8:30 a.m. to understand what people like Whitney go through on a day to day basis.

Working with Diane Ballard Amber was fitted with an insulin pump, no insulin would be injected.

For 24 hours Amber would be connected to a pump, monitoring her blood sugar.

"I needed to teach you carb counting, needed to teach you what normal blood sugars are, either to high and how to be treated or too and need to be fixed,"said Ballard.

Amber says learning to stick her finger was nerve racking.

The process of taking a blood sample is necessary to see what your blood sugar is at the time you test and its something people like Whitney do multiple times a day.

Amber admits, she was overwhelmed within the first 30 minutes. Most people diagnosed go through a much longer process of learning. Amber says she had a short route into learning everything she needed to know.

The first thing Amber wanted to do while wearing her pump was something that is a part of her daily routine.

Amber is an avid runner, getting in 3.1 miles a day. She says running with the pump was a first. She said she learned that its necessary for those who have diabetes to check their sugar and adjust based on exercise.

Amber was worried she would constantly be thinking about the pump, it certainly took some getting used to she says.

Amber was able to take her strength class at the gym remembering the whole time that its not always just get up and go, people with diabetes really have to adjust for exercise and their sugar.

At work many of Amber's colleagues at WKYT had no idea she was even wearing the pump.

Hours after first having her pump inserted, it was 3 pm, which is Amber's regular afternoon snack time of grapes and rice cakes.

Those dealing with Type One diabetes have to learn to count their carbs.

Amber learned that grapes carry a high carb count and she actually had to cut back on the portion.

Once again Amber found herself sticking her finger and adjusting the pump.

While on the set that night you at home had no idea of what she was wearing.

By 6:30 Amber says she was sure she would be faster at the process of getting ready to eat dinner.

After 10 minutes Amber was still figuring her carb count for the foods she was about to eat and fighting with her finger to get enough blood.

Amber says when you finally hear those beeps and read your level you are ready to go and eat!

Amber slept in the pump that night, admitting she didn't really notice it at all.

Amber says she woke up the next morning with a better appreciation of the life Whitney Sampson lives and why she devotes so much time to events like the annual Step Out Walk in order to fight the disease.

"The number one thing that is helpful for prevention is awareness. Doing everything we can to prevent and promote, that gets the word out and then people are aware of it," said Sampson.

While Sampson has Type One Diabetes, its Type Two that is the most common.

Experts say the key to prevention is proper diet and exercise and knowing the warning signs and knowing your family history.

The annual Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes is Saturday May 31 at Keeneland.

For more information on diabetes, the walk and how you can join Team Red and Amber that morning click on the link below.

Join Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes Honorary Chair and WKYT Anchor, Amber Philpott, as she leads Team Red Lexington. Team Red is for anyone who isn’t a part of another Step Out Team, but wants to be part of the Stop Diabetes movement on May 31st at Keeneland Race Course! Go to main.diabetes.org/goto/teamredlexington to sign up for Team Red and join Amber in the fight to Stop Diabetes!

Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Keeneland Race Course – Barn 2
Registration – 7:30-8:30am
Warm Up & Welcome – 8:45am
Walk Kickoff – 9am
Route – 1 or 2.5 Mile

WALK WITH US – Enjoy an unforgettable morning of exercise and family fun presented by Kroger Pharmacy. Participants can take in the beauty of the Bluegrass at Keeneland Race Course while walking to Stop Diabetes. Walkers can also expect great food, entertainment, children’s activities and one of our most popular stops, the Health and Wellness area where you can find great information and giveaways.

CAN’T JOIN US ON WALK DAY? You can still register and fundraise as a virtual walker to support the mission of the American Diabetes Association.

CELEBRITY CHEF APPEARANCE – This year’s Step Out Walk won’t end at the finish line. Instead, “Southern Yankee” Celebrity Chef Rory Schepisi will provide an encore - offering up healthy cooking demonstrations and an educational workshop. Novo Nordisk is bringing the Celebrity Chef event to Step Out where all participants can get a taste of Schepisi’s healthy twist on down-home cooking!

HELP US REACH OUR GOAL – All walkers will play an important role in helping us reach our 2014 Step Out goal of $309,250 to support the American Diabetes Association mission: to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes! Every step you take and every dollar you raise makes a difference!

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