On March 30, 2021, life changed dramatically for Lincoln Sondreal.
He had no energy. He would hide from his family and sleep whenever he could. With fatigue, he never seemed to be able to quench his thirst.
A life-changing diagnosis
One day, these symptoms were particularly severe. Lincoln’s parents, Jesse and Stacy Sondreal, took him to the hospital for a blood test. They thought he was suffering from a urinary tract infection (urinary tract infection).
During the blood draw, providers found that his fasting blood sugar value was 421 milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL).
- A normal fasting blood glucose level is below 100 mg/dL.
- If it is greater than 126, on consecutive tests, a patient is considered diabetic.
“I had to be rushed to the emergency room,” he recalls.
His mother Stacy said bringing him to the emergency room and finding out he had diabetes was the worst day of his life.
“They knew straight away that he had diabetes. He remained in intensive care for three days and three nights. We have learned to manage it. It was devastating,” she said through tears.
Kurt Griffin, PhD, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said diabetes can be hard to catch.
“Type 1 diabetes, as an autoimmune disease, often smolders in a teenager, perhaps even years before they show symptoms,” Dr. Griffin said. “Unless you’re looking for evidence of this reaction against your own body, you don’t know it’s there.
“Autoimmune destruction usually progresses for years without any symptoms. Eventually, symptoms like drinking more, going to the bathroom more often, and losing weight begin unintentionally gradually and are often missed. From this point, diabetes rapidly progresses to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If we know which children are on the path to T1D, we can intervene early and prevent DKA. This is what drives the PLEDGE screening program.
Lose one sport, find another
With just one conversation with Lincoln, you would easily be able to tell how much he loves sports. In fact, he “never missed an NFL, NHL, NBA or PBA game on TV,” he said while donning a Minnesota Timberwolves hoodie.
At the time of this incident and diagnosis, Lincoln, a high school freshman, was the starting quarterback for his college football team in St. Paul, Minnesota.
He had to make the sobering decision to walk away from the game he loved.
“I still tried to maintain my level of activity. We lived by a river and had a lake, and I was always outside working and just found out how physically taxing it was on my blood sugar. And, having all these devices, like a pump and a CGM (continuous glucometer), I didn’t want to take the beating that football players were getting,” he said.
But he did not want to completely give up the sport. So he tried bowling.
He is now a state champion in South Dakota.
Nine months ago, the Sondreals moved to Brookings, South Dakota. During the move, Jesse and Stacy Sondreal said Lincoln met with Empire Bowl staff in Sioux Falls, who drilled his bowling ball and showed Lincoln some advice.
But Lincoln took it from there.
“Since that day in early August when I first got the bowling ball, I’ve won a state championship with my high school team at Brookings. I’ve won a singles tournament of junior scholarship tournament, and I’ve been in the cash or cash or top 5 in almost every tournament I’ve been in.
“I qualified for Junior Gold, which is a national USBC (United States Bowling Congress) tournament this summer in Grand Rapids, Michigan,” he said.
World-Class Compassionate Care
A diagnosis of diabetes is a lifelong ordeal. Despite this, Lincoln said he was able to devote himself so much to bowling because he was confident in his care at Sanford.
“The care I have received here at Sanford has been outstanding. It’s on a very personal level. They pay attention to detail unlike other places they just make a few adjustments according to the book and then you are on your way.
“This place feels like a house, even a community. You go to a really big hospital, or even just one in your home town, it might be too personal or there’s not enough connection there, where you’re missing something. Here, all the bases are covered. Everything is taken care of and you feel good when you leave,” he said.
Jesse Sondreal echoed Lincoln’s words. He said the team was beyond personality and expertise like no other.
“We met Dr. Griffin here at Sanford Children’s Hospital and (he) really changed the trajectory of Lincoln’s care. Looking at Dr. Griffin, it looks a bit like something out of “A Beautiful Mind,” drawing algorithms and calculations to really fine-tune his parameters. His approach was a game-changer for us,” he laughed.
“What’s great about South Dakota is you have this small-town environment, a neighborhood community environment, and then world-class people like Dr. Griffin and his team,” he added. .
When the Sondreals moved from the Twin Cities to Brookings, they had to look for other care providers.
When they first met Dr. Griffin and his team and explained their situation, “they immediately said, ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you,'” Stacy explained.
“(Just) that amount of compassion when you’re really hurting was something,” she added.
Be proud in adversity
Stacy and Jesse struggled to express how proud they were to call Lincoln their son.
“Proud is not the word. I’m just in awe of him. He is incredible. I can’t believe he’s mine. He’s brilliant, amazing, everything you want your son to be,” she said, tears of joy streaming down her face.
Jesse went so far as to call him a role model.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my son. His spirit of resolve and determination, and his willingness to never settle for less than he wants to achieve, has been an inspiration to me and his entire family.
Posted in Children, Digestive Health, Sioux Falls