Powder Valley senior Chace Dixon, right, was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes when he was 6 years old. He hasnít let the disease keep him from leading an active life.
Teenagers deal with a lot throughout their high school years. Add the stress of playing sports, and everything amps up another notch.
Powder Valley’s Chace Dixon knew things were going to be tough. He’s an active teenager. He plays sports year-round. He also hunts, fishes and hikes. He sounds like your typical high school student in Northeast Oregon.
But, Dixon is constantly dealing with something he doesn’t want people to think about when they look at him — Type 1 Diabetes.
“I just never wanted people to really know about it,” Dixon said. “They might look at me a little differently, or judge me. It’s something that I don’t really talk about.”
Dixon’s parents, Lance and Suzi Dixon, went through many emotions when they found out their son would be insulin dependent the rest of his life.
“As parents you want your children to be healthy,” Suzi said. “It was pretty upsetting, and we shed some tears. But, then we understood it could be worse. It could have been something terminal. That put things in perspective. We had a boy that was going to be with us.”
Dixon was diagnosed when he was 6 years old.
As a 4-year-old, Dixon came down with strep throat. However, he broke out in hives and had a rash. That set off signals in Suzi’s mind that something wasn’t quite right.
“It was pretty suspicious to us,” Suzi said. “But we weren’t sure. Finally after a trip to the family doctor a few years later, we knew for sure.”
Fast forward to Dixon’s high school years and he was forced to grow up quick. He was going non-stop in athletics at school, and off-campus in his outdoor activities.
“I never thought about not playing sports,” Dixon said. “That was never an option. I just learned to deal with the diabetes. I wasn’t going to let it stop me.”
Dixon monitors his blood sugar constantly throughout the games he’s involved in.
“Other players are worried about staying hydrated, I’m worried about blood sugar,” Dixon said. “I’ve been close to passing out, but never more than that. I’m constantly seeing where my blood sugar is at and sometimes taking shots.”
It’s not easy on his mother either. For most sports moms the worry is about success on the field. Suzi said she’s just wanting her son to make it through the game.
“I’m constantly pacing up and down the sideline just hoping he’s fine,” Suzi said. “I can spot the signs pretty quickly. Much quicker than the coach can. So, I’m in his ear if I see something.
“It’s tougher on me now, because I can’t always keep an eye on him. I have to trust that he’s taking care of himself.”
Even though Suzi would like to keep her eye on her son, she knows that the fact Dixon is out of the house isn’t a bad thing.
“All the activity he gets in actually helps keep his blood sugar pretty stable,” Suzi said. “They key is getting it stable before he starts an activity. If it’s high, it will just go higher, and if it’s low, it will keep falling. Lance and I are incredibly happy that he’s so active.
“We also wanted him to know that he could do anything. We couldn’t imagine him not playing sports or being in the mountains.”
Powder Valley head football coach Dan Townsend is impressed with how his quarterback deals with the responsibility.
“I’m constantly amazed with how Chace deals with everything,” Townsend said. “It would be easy to get lost in the game and not think about testing your blood sugar. Somehow he manages to do it all.”
With the football season coming to an end this weekend with a 38-34 loss to Triad in the Class 1A state playoffs, Dixon will now shift his attention to basketball.
“I know that I’ve dealt with this for 11 years,” Dixon said. “It’s not going to go away. I’m just trying to be a kid and enjoy high school.”