Veteran overcomes Type 1 diabetes through the help of technology

Health

DAVIS, W.Va. – Jason Syr, an army veteran, was diagnosed with what would usually be considered a career-ending disease while on deployment with his army regiment in Kenya, working alongside Kenyan Special Forces.

That disease was Type 1 diabetes and at first, Syr couldn’t believe it because he was in great shape, ate well, and didn’t expect the diagnosis.

Syr

Initially, it was a bit of confusion, but I knew a little bit; I had a little bit of a medical background. I was a paramedic for a few years during my military career. I had, I guess, an inclining of what was going on, and I knew I had the general signs and symptoms: I was thirsty, I had lost some weight. But I was also deployed to a fairly austere environment at times. So I thought, ‘maybe the symptoms are just because I’m living at high elevation, and I’m running every day, and I’m just doing hard work in the field, eating different foods and things like that.’ I just chalked it up to that and thought, ‘well perhaps, it is as it appears to be.’ But I think once the labs came back when I was at the hospital in Nairobi, I knew really quickly.

Jason Syr – Army Veteran

Syr was transferred to Germany for further tests, and that’s where doctors determined, without a doubt, that he had Type 1 diabetes. But it didn’t stop his career. In fact, he went on to serve six more years in the army.

How? Through his Dexcom glucose monitor, which monitors his blood sugar, also known as glucose.

Dexcom glucose monitors and app

Syr started using a Dexcom glucose monitor about a year after his diagnosis, and that changed his life for the better.

“I have to say, once I got the Dexcom 4, it became significantly easier to manage the disease and just having another optic, if you will, to look at how to manage it,” Syr said. “You can look at trend analysis and a whole bunch of different things that are derived from that technology. The data allows you to make some pretty good decisions and see what’s going on with your body.”

The technology allowed him to stay in the army for six years after his diagnosis and helped him go on to become a competitive cyclist. Syr said his cycling hobby would not be possible if not for the Dexcom G6, which he currently uses. He went on to win the USA Cycling National Championship in 2018, and he continues to compete year after year.

He can do so with a lot of comfort knowing that he is getting real-time data about his blood sugar, and so can his wife through an app she uses to monitor his conditions. This allows him to go out and train all by himself because he and his wife can monitor his health at all times.

“That’s helpful,” Syr said. “It’s a peace of mind for me, and it’s also a peace of mind for my wife. But I would say as a whole that it’s a pretty helpful piece of technology that allows me to train, train longer, train harder.”

Syr on top of the podium after winning the USA Cycling National Championship

For all of this, Syr said, he is thankful because he can live a full life. He said he would live without his glucose monitor, as many do, but it just makes his life much better.

“Not everyone has access to this kind of technology, so I’m certainly grateful for my healthcare team and certainly the technology,” Syr said. “It really just — it makes my life easier. It’s a pretty difficult disease if you’ve known anyone who has it. It’s a pretty difficult disease to manage, but having a technology like this and tools like this by far makes it much, much easier and more palatable day-to-day. And everybody has bad days, but this I think for me at least, this is my personal feelings — those days are fewer and farther between when using this technology, so yeah, I’m very much appreciative.”

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