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Scott Dunton, 20, is a world-class professional surfer, currently ranked 220th in his first year on the professional circuit.
Dunton began surfing at the age of 5 and started competing when he was 15 years old in local contests in central California. He has surfed the California coastline as well as Hawaii, Florida, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. He plays water polo and is a whitewater rafter, water skier and wakeboarder. He also likes to go kayaking with his dog, Kai.
We caught up with Scott and asked him a few questions about how diabetes and surfing go together.
As an accomplished surfer, how did you feel when you were first diagnosed with diabetes?
I was diagnosed at age 16. At that point I hadn’t won any really big contests or even gone out of the country to compete. But a lot of people—even my teachers in school— were telling me that there was no way to pursue my dream of a surfing career with diabetes. I found out there were no professional surfers with diabetes, and, in a way, that really inspired me. I wanted to be that guy who has diabetes and is one of the best surfers in the world.
What made you realize that having diabetes would not inhibit your ability to stay on top of the surfing game?
I have one of the best doctors in the world, Dr. Kaiserman, who got behind my surfing and my health. Between my doctor and my mom, I didn’t need any other inspiration. Once I got it into my head that I was going to keep trying to become a pro surfer, they backed me all the way.
How has the insulin pump made a difference in managing your blood glucose while taking part in such a grueling sport?
Before I used an insulin pump, my blood sugar levels were really random. I never knew what they were doing or even what they were. Now I use a Medtronic 715 pump, and my A1C came down from around 13% to 7%. It has helped my surfing a lot.
Before the pump I would paddle out feeling okay—then two minutes later, I’d be feeling really low. Now, I surf for as long as I want, whenever I want, and wherever I want, without having to deal with the pain and stress of having random highs and lows.
What is your typical diet on surfing days, and what is your basal-bolus pattern like?
It really depends, because I try to surf at least twice every day. But when I’m at home, I normally eat a lot of cereal in the morning and then go check the waves. Maybe I get a sandwich for lunch and just cruise for a while and wait for the wind to die down, and then I go surf one more time before dinner. By dinnertime, I’m at home, and my mom makes a mean fishcake!
Having the pump allows me to eat whenever and whatever I want. The cereal in the morning starts the day off normally with a bolus of about 12 to 15 units. Anyone who has seen me in the morning with a pot full of cereal knows that bolus is justified. I try to make sure that I am always on top of it.
When I’m at home, I eat at a lot of the same places, and I know how much I need to bolus for what I am going to eat. Sometimes when traveling in other countries, it isn’t so easy, and it really takes some thought. I just try to make sure that my basal is set for a little extra during the breakfast, lunch and dinner part of the day and for a little less when I am going to be surfing.
When you give talks to other diabetics, what sort of message do you present?
When I am talking to groups of diabetics, I try to tell them that everyone, including me, has been there. No matter what happens with my surfing career, I will always be a diabetic. And I really try to push them to dream big, and don’t stop reaching for it, and definitely don’t let being a diabetic get in the way. Because I almost did, and my life definitely wouldn’t be half as great as it is now.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.