Konner Brewer: her positive approach to living with Diabetes

Konner Brewer smiles for a quick picture at the pool.

Photo Credit: Konner Brewer

Konner Brewer smiles for a quick picture at the pool.

Everyone knows Konner Brewer as a positive student and star swimmer that can brighten anyone’s day with just her smile. Behind that smile, however, Konner deals with something everyday that is much more challenging: Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes has nothing to do with an unhealthy diet (Type 2 Diabetes) but everything to do with a failing pancreas. When the pancreas stops producing insulin, vital to balancing blood sugar, a person can experience lethargy, dizziness, headaches and much more due to a spike or drop in blood sugar. In order to rebalance the blood sugar, a person with Type 1 Diabetes must manually test their blood sugar and inject themselves with the correct amount of insulin. Konner has been taking insulin shots since she was eleven. Luckily, she now has a device called a pump that administers the correct amount of insulin when needed. Still, a pump does not solve all of a diabetic’s problems. Regular tests of blood sugar are still needed and sometimes Konner has to sit out a swim practice because her blood sugar is too low. Despite the challenges that diabetes brings, Konner uses this opportunity to make a difference. Konner regularly participates in various diabetic charities and nonprofit organizations. She even spoke at a diabetes conference in Kansas City. I had a chance to catch her before she headed to a swim meet to talk about her involvement with the diabetic community.

ACHONA: Hi Konner! Thanks for letting me talk with you!

KB: No problem!

ACHONA: So what exactly is Type 1 diabetes? How did you get it?

KB: Type 1 Diabetes is a disease where your pancreas stops producing the insulin needed to carry sugar out of a persons blood stream. This means my pancreas has gone on strike….forever. They still do not know what causes a person to have Type 1 Diabetes. I guess I’m just lucky.

ACHONA: How do you handle it?

KB: I handle it with a sense of humor and knowing that it is now a part of my life that is not going to change so I might as well make the best of it. Diabetes really isn’t all that bad; it’s just a nuisance. It is completely manageable as long as I’m responsible about checking my blood sugar and living a healthy lifestyle.

ACHONA: How are you involved in the diabetic community?

KB: Recently, I was hired by a pharmaceutical company, called Sanofi, to travel around the country to talk with other kids with diabetes about my experiences and how to best manage their diabetes. There were four kids fortunate enough to be chosen to be a part of this fantastic program called A1C Champions. It is a wonderful opportunity to share stories and encourage young kids.

ACHONA: What drove you to get involved?

KB: I wanted to show kids all the things they could still accomplish even though they have diabetes. When I was first diagnosed, I was told in the hospital that I would no longer be able to play sports or spend the night out at my friends house because it would be unsafe. I must not be good at the whole “you cant do things” approach since within the first year I was diagnosed, I went to the Junior Olympics for swimming. What I’m trying to say is I wanted to get involve in the diabetic community to be living proof that diabetes puts absolutely no limitations on you.

ACHONA: What is a day in the life of a person with diabetes like?

KB: 3am- low blood sugar wakes me up. Not hungry? Too bad. Angrily drink my big girl juice box.
3:30am- blood sugar still low. Fumble down the stairs and eat all of the kitchen and part of the living room.
6:45am- getting ready for school. Mom asks what happened to the cake she made. Deny everything.
I’m just kidding. This doesn’t happen too often, but I can neither confirm nor deny the whereabouts of the missing chocolate cake. Diabetes really isn’t that bad. I mean, yes, I did try to give it up for Lent, and yes it was an epic fail, but everyone has some thing they have to deal with everyday. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I check my blood when I wake up, at lunch time, before and half way through practice, and when I go to bed. I know that probably sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, I’ve gotten really good at producing more blood. #confessionsofaninsulinaddict

ACHONA: What is your hope for the future of diabetic patients?

KB: That one day they find a cure and I’m no longer dependent on insulin. Until then, I will continue living my life to the fullest and showing other kids with diabetes there’s nothing they can’t do.

ACHONA: Well, thank you again for your time, Konner. Good luck on your meet today!