Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crusader FB Player Profiled


From today's Waukesha Freeman --

Dealing with diabetes
Catholic Memorial football player struggled with misdiagnosis

By Daniel Mike Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA – Nick Olson began this school year apologizing to one of his teachers. “My English teacher last year, she thought I was slacking because I kept falling asleep in her class,” said Olson, a senior at Catholic Memorial High School. “She thought I wasn’t getting enough sleep at night. “I have her again this year, and through the first couple of weeks she noticed a difference. I went up to her and apologized for last year. She said she could see the difference, so it was pretty cool.”

But there were no apologies needed. Olson wasn’t slacking off. He wasn’t falling asleep in class because he didn’t sleep enough at home. He wasn’t bored. Olson was dealing with diabetes.

“Last October, I was urinating every 10 minutes and drinking everything in sight,” Olson said. “I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.” Olson was treated for the disease near the end of 2009, but nothing was changing. He was still going to the bathroom more than he should have been. He was still falling asleep at an alarming rate. The once 305-pound Olson had slipped to 220 pounds. “I could eat as much as I wanted, and within a matter of an hour I was starving,” Olson said. “I’m not sure how everything works, but all the nutrients kept getting washed out of me. My body wasn’t absorbing them.”

Olson had intended to drop some weight after the football season. As the heavyweight on the CMH wrestling team, Olson had to be 285 pounds or less. But he was almost in a position to wrestle in the 215-pound class. “We keep tabs on our kids’ weights,” said Bill Young, the head football and wrestling coach at Memorial, which is 4-0 this season. “The weight was just falling off him way too fast. There’s no way a kid should lose close to 100 pounds that fast.

“It was a thing where he was tired all the time. When it comes to his homework, he could hardly stay awake. He was lethargic. “Thank God he went back and got another evaluation.” The treatments obviously weren’t working, and Olson’s quality of life was diminishing. He was either sleeping or in a bathroom.

“Before I was diagnosed (with Type 2) and after, I felt horrible,” Olson said. “Every day, I was falling asleep in every class. I probably slept whenever I got home from school, slept in every class. I wasn’t myself at all. “Nothing had changed. Since nothing had changed, my doctors kept trying to play with medications.”

Eventually, a family friend suggested the family try Children’s Hospital. In April, doctors diagnosed Olson with Type 1 diabetes. “It was a relief that I was finally better,” Olson said. “I really didn’t even have a life those months. I was just sleeping and trying to make it through the day. I’d wake up five or six times at night to go to the bathroom. I was trying to wrestle while feeling like garbage every day.

“Once I was rediagnosed, I started feeling like myself.” It didn’t take long for Olson, nearly a third of the size he once was, to start feeling like he thought he should. “Easily within a week they had me on insulin with all meals and nighttime insulin,” Olson said. “I felt 100 percent better. The quality of life was amazing.” The change came near the end of last school year, and Olson wasted no time building his body back up throughout the summer to prepare for football.

“I started summer lifting and all went well,” Olson said. “I’ve actually gotten a lot stronger than I ever was. “I was really weak when I was misdiagnosed. I couldn’t run a lap around the track, but now I feel so much better and everything is easier now.” Now playing at 260 pounds, Olson is a faster and stronger player than when he was a backup on the Crusaders’ state semifinalist team. “He’s doing a rock-solid job this year,” Young said. “You always talk about senior surprises, and Nick is definitely the biggest surprise.”

Not only has Olson built himself up enough to play football again, he earned the starting right tackle job on a team that wants to contend for the championship in the highly competitive Classic 8 Conference. “It’s been a dream,” Olson said. “I’ve been playing football since fourth or fifth grade and flag football before that. Finally being able to start is the greatest feeling.” Olson said he’s a better player than he was a year ago. He’s now 45 pounds lighter than last season.

“I feel that I’ve improved a lot and am a better player,” Olson said. “I’m a lot more mobile than when I was at 305.” Not only have things changed for Olson on the field, but things are more difficult for Olson off the field. “I have to check my blood sugar before, during and after games,” Olson said. “If it’s low, I have Gatorade I can take.” Keeping track during football games is a small part of what Olson has to endure because of his Type 1 diabetes. “Every morning, I have to check my blood sugar, and I have to take a shot before every meal I eat,” he said. “I check my blood before I go to bed and take a nighttime shot.”

That’s not as bad as when he’s playing football or wrestling, either. “When I start football and wrestling, I have to wake up once or twice at night around 3 a.m. to see how new activity influences my blood sugar,” Olson said. He’s open to playing sports in college, especially now that he has a grip on his diabetes and has shown he can battle back onto the field. But he’s got his sights set on an earlier date. “If the opportunity presents itself, I’ll think about it,” Olson said. “Right now, I’m trying to get through football and make the best of this year. I don’t want to look too far into the future.

“I would like to win a state championship, though.” It’ll take a lot of work to win that state title, and no one will have gone through more to hoist the trophy in Madison than Olson already has. “It’s a difficult task for a young person to do that,” Young said. “He battles through it and has shown a lot of courage. “I’m proud of the job he’s done and how tough he’s playing.”

E-mail: dmike@conleynet.com

Photos -- Katie Derksen/Special to The Freeman


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