Georgetown’s Austin Freeman Diagnosed With Diabetes

Posted by jstevrtc on March 4th, 2010

An article appearing in The Washington Post on Thursday details how Georgetown’s inestimable junior guard Austin Freeman was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and how that is the illness — not a stomach virus, as initially reported — that’s caused him to feel poorly in recent days.  It was this which caused him to play only reduced minutes against Notre Dame and miss the game against West Virginia this past Saturday.  He was, in fact, taken to the Georgetown University Hospital emergency room on Monday at which time the diagnosis was made clear.

The article mentions that Freeman is doing better and has now rejoined his team for practices, but Hoya head coach John Thompson III was reluctant to rule Freeman either in or out for Georgetown’s final regular season game on Saturday against Cincinnati, or even for the Big East Tournament.

Diabetes is pretty common, affecting about 3% of the world’s population.  It’s characterized by having high amounts of glucose (sugar) in one’s bloodstream.  This is a problem because if you go for a long time like this, you can do permanent damage to your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and pretty much any part of your body.  Usually, the pancreas counters high amounts of sugar in the blood by automatically producing insulin, a substance that makes the sugar move out of your bloodstream and into your muscles.  This makes the level in the blood normal again.

There are two types of diabetics, creatively titled Type I and Type II.  Type I diabetics are usually quite young when the diagnosis is made, and they never produce insulin because their pancreas lacks the ability to do so.  Type II diabetics (usually obese and diagnosed much later in life) still make insulin, but they don’t make enough of it, or their body sort of forgets how to handle it properly.  Type IIs can sometimes use diet and exercise to treat their condition, and there are several types of pills out there that can help their bodies either make more insulin, or use it correctly.  Sometimes Type IIs have to eventually do insulin injections if they get too far out of control.  Because Type I diabetics don’t make insulin, they have to do insulin injections pretty much from the word go, or use a small insulin pump.

The good news is that both types of diabetics can lead otherwise completely normal lives if they monitor their blood sugar, take the medicine(s) that they need to take, and be careful with their diet.  There are even professional athletes with diabetes, like former Gonzaga Bulldog and now L.A. Laker Adam Morrison, and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.  Both of those guys are Type I.

It isn’t yet known which type of diabetes Freeman has, but according to the Washington Post article, the process of finding that out is underway.  There’s one incredibly important point that the article makes, though, and it’s worth noting here.  In the interview that Freeman did to disclose the illness, he was flanked by his physician, his father, and his coach.  Coach Thompson even makes it a point to state that Freeman has his family, friends, teammates, doctors,  and assistant coaches standing behind him in this.  Why is this all important?  When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, they often feel overwhelmed, because  it isn’t easy news to hear.  It’s usually a “rest-of-your-life” type of diagnosis, and the patient is given stacks of pamphlets and booklets to read, lists of diabetes classes to take, websites, nutritional information, and so on.  Many people say “Screw this,” and don’t do any of it, and this can have pretty grave results.  The better support network that a person newly diagnosed with diabetes has, the better they usually do.  And it’s obvious that Freeman, just 20 years old, has an outstanding support network around him.  We hope for the best for him, and we predict that he’ll do just fine.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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2 responses to “Georgetown’s Austin Freeman Diagnosed With Diabetes”

  1. Alison in BC Canada says:

    Thank you so much for including some information and explanation, about the two different types of diabetes, in your article. As the mother of a type 1 diabetic daughter who was diagnosed at 10, seeing uneducated reporting on diabetes can be more than frustrating. My daughter is now 15 and an accomplished basketball player. She must test her blood sugars upwards of 15 times during a game and regulate her insulin supply through a pump, but it does not stop her. A wonderful mentor and example is retired NBA Trailblazers Player, Chris Dudley. He runs a camp every summer for up and coming basketball players with type 1. She has the privilege of attending each year. Again, thank you so much for writing an informed and educated article.

  2. jstevrtc says:

    Wow, thanks for the kind words. We really appreciate that.

    Your daughter is obviously a great example to others of someone who can achieve success and lead a totally normal life despite having this particular obstacle thrown at them. It also sounds as if you’ve helped create a great support network around her, which is such a necessary component of dealing with it.

    Continued success to you and your daughter! And thanks again.

    John Stevens

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