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Type 1 diabetic devotes career to diabetes

"I was one of those kids who didn't have anyone in my high school that had diabetes. I was the only one," Dr. Ryan Dyess said.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More than 34 million Americans have diabetes and can face devastating consequences if not controlled. For a kid with that diagnosis, it can be overwhelming. A Louisville doctor hopes his personal experience can put them at ease.

"Really the entire reason I went into medicine was to become a pediatric endocrinologist. I have Type 1 Diabetes," Dr. Ryan Dyess, a pediatric endocrinologist with Norton Children's Hospital said.

Dr. Dyess' journey started when he was 9 years old.

"I was fairly sick when I first got diagnosed," he said.

He had a constant thirst, as well as the need for a bathroom. Dyess remembers feeling overwhelmed and alone. 

"I was one of those kids who didn't have anyone in my high school that had diabetes. I was the only one," Dyess said.

It made it hard for anyone to relate, which is why Dr. Dyess says diabetes camp was the lifeline he needed.

"Where everyone has diabetes," he said. "Watching them check their blood sugar all the time, take their shots all the time, can help normalize what kids are doing and I personally think that's one of the best things that ever happened to me."

You can find more information about the camp here.

Credit: Dr. Ryan Dyess
Dr. Ryan Dyess was 10 years old when he wrote this letter at Diabetes Camp. He attended it year after year.

There are two main types of diabetes. Both affect the way your body regulates blood sugar, which fuels your body, but it can't do that without insulin.

People with Type 1 Diabetes produce little to none at all.

"They didn't do anything wrong. This is something that, unfortunately, just happened to them," Dyess said.

Those with Type 2 don't respond well to the insulin they have.

Whichever hand you're dealt, the price to keep diabetes under control is a costly one. The price of insulin can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a month to more than a thousand for some.

RELATED: 'It was right there and I couldn't afford it': Diabetics plead for change as insulin prices skyrocket

"There are families that have to choose, should I pick up my insulin with this copay or should I be able to buy this little bit for food, or can I afford to come to our appointments every 3 months," Dyess said.

The COVID 19 pandemic has only made it harder for people, both financially and physically.

"If you get really sick, you're going to need more insulin," Dyess said.

When that happens, Dr. Dyess is there. He can relate.

"I've been there, I understand your feelings," Dyess said.

Contact reporter Brooke Hasch atbhasch@whas11.com. Follow her onTwitter (@WHAS11Hasch) andFacebook.

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