Running Through Type 1 Diabetes

Putnam runner 300c

Gregory Putnam has been a competitive athlete all of his life – a runner. So when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 28, he couldn’t believe it.

   “Something just all of a sudden happened,” he said. “I was constantly thirsty and going to the bathroom. My housemate, whose mother was a nurse, told me that my symptoms were related to diabetes. I thought, ‘This can’t be true. I’m really healthy. I’m athletic.’”

   Sure enough it was true. Putnam was able to keep his Type 1 diabetes in check by lowering his carbohydrate Intake and taking the right amount of insulin to match his carbohydrate Intake." 

   Putnam, who lives in Stoneham, has seen various doctors over the years. Most shook their heads when he said how much he ran and told him it was too much. It wasn’t until Putnam came to Hallmark Health that he finally felt that someone got it, got him.  “Going to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital was a tremendously positive change,” said Putnam. “That was the first time I felt someone was listening to me. I appreciate that so much.”

   Now 46, Putnam runs about 60 miles a week, both on his own and in races with his running team. The extensive and intense training makes managing his diabetes difficult. He frequently has to make adjustments based on how much he runs and what he eats. He is not willing to let diabetes take running away from him.

   “I’m very stubborn about my running and my competition,” said Putnam, who was recently named the 2015 Massachusetts Masters runner of the year by New England Runner magazine. “It’s really difficult at times to get my numbers correct when I’m racing.”

   Putnam works closely with Alice DiCenzo, BSN, RN, CDE, a certified diabetes educator at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. This fall he began using an insulin pump along with his continuous glucose monitoring system, or CGMS, instead of injections, which has been an ongoing adjustment. DiCenzo worked with him every step of the way. When he first made the switch, he and DiCenzo worked very closely making the necessary adjustments.

   What Putnam appreciates most is DiCenzo’ s acceptance of his running. “Alice really values what matters most to her patients like me, and that says a great deal about who she is as a person as well as what she provides as a diabetes educator,” he said. “The caregivers, doctors and administrative staff, definitely work in what’s important in your life and make the diabetes fit around that.”

   For Putnam, those important things are his family, running and teaching high school English. With the help of Hallmark Health he has learned livable strategies for managing his Type 1 diabetes so he can enjoy all of these to the fullest!


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