May 31st, 2011
01:34 PM ET
In the Human Factor we profile people who have overcome the odds against them. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship –- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. On Sunday, J.R. Hildebrand would have been the 9th rookie to win the Indianapolis 500, had he not crashed in the final turn of the race. He was passing another rookie, Charlie Kimball, at the time. Kimball ended up in 13th place but that's not the end of his story. This week , Kimball shares how his life has changed since he was diagnosed with diabetes. Here is his story in his own words.
I have the greatest job in the world!
While I am definitely pumped to get up each morning and go to the “office” and do what I do – mainly driving a race car – there is another side of my job that brings me great joy and that is having the honor of meeting members of the global diabetes community each time I go to work.
The diabetes community is a group of men, women and children who I didn’t even know existed before I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007. There are 24 million of us in the U.S. alone and the connection among people living with diabetes is stronger than I think anyone realizes.
I have no diabetes history in my family and when I was diagnosed I thought there was a simple fix – like taking a pill or something to make it go away. Fortunately, I have met a number of great people along the way, including a wonderful team at my sponsor, who have helped me a great deal.
Living with diabetes probably looks easier to those who do not have the disease, but I think that perception is more of a result of the proper management of diabetes than the severity of it. Diabetes is a real and serious disease. But just because you have it, does not mean you have to limit your dreams.
I have promised myself I will not let diabetes slow me down.
We all have tough days, and for me, most of mine involve the unpredictability of my diabetes management. Sometimes you feel it is just a moving target always changing and evolving. And, I think most people with diabetes will tell you it definitely keeps you on your toes. But, hey, no one ever said it was going to be easy.
I am fortunate to get to meet with people living with diabetes every day I am at a race track. From children in Brazil, to race fans in Birmingham and Baltimore, we seem to have a special connection. These are the moments I live for and the times when I truly appreciate the talents I have been given. I see the challenges in their eyes and they see mine. But nothing helps me keep my job in perspective more than spending time with a child who has just been diagnosed. Often we don’t even need to say a word – we just know what each other is going through. It’s just understood.
I wish I had the luxury of being able to spend an unlimited amount of time with each person I meet, but that just isn’t possible. So I am going to live with the memories – the thoughts of those I have and have yet to meet. You might say we are in this together.
I live my life at a very fast pace and I am used to doing a lot in a short amount of time. It's part of who I am and a big part of what I do. Rest assured each time I put on my helmet and drop down into my race car, I know I have the best job in the world and it’s a privilege to have so many good friends along for the ride.
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.