Some of us take playing sport for granted. That doesn’t apply to Dubai Hurricanes netballer Sisi Curtis-Oliver.
Curtis-Oliver,13, lives with Type 1 diabetes but with careful management the attacker doesn’t let it stop her from playing the sport she took up at age six.
“My condition means that I need to plan ahead and try to make sure that my blood sugars are stable and at a good level for several hours before a game. This means regularly checking my blood sugar and carb counting my food,” she said.
“I need to bring my testing equipment, plenty of water and various items of food to ensure that I can get through the game. ”
Even with the best preparation, there have been some close calls along the way.
“Type 1 diabetes can be exhausting if I do not plan very carefully,” Curtis-Oliver said.
“I do have one horror story when I was lying on the floor barely able to breath in the early stages of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) which is life threatening. I managed somehow to play two quarters and score some goals but I could barely stand up and my parents had to rush me to hospital.”
As a result Curtis-Oliver said she always communicates with her coach if something isn’t right.
“When our team plays in tournaments we have back-to-back games all day and if my blood sugars are not exactly within range then coach won’t allow me on court,” she said.
“Of course this can be frustrating at the time because I want to win but I understand because I can’t be the best version of myself if my sugars are too low or too high.”
Living with Type 1 diabetes means Curtis-Oliver is in the high risk category for contracting COVID-19. She has been isolating longer than her team mates but has kept up her skills by completing videos from her coach Louise.
Curtis-Oliver said Louise and her team mates have been instrumental in helping her be competitive, while still taking care of herself.
“My teammates and in particular the team parents have been absolutely brilliant this year. They encourage me all the time and I want to do the best I can for them. They also understand when I am not feeling well and are very supportive,” she said.
“I just want people to understand that as a Type 1 diabetic, I can do anything that others can do. I am almost never 100% ‘right’. I have learned to fight through and play sport even when I am not.”