Many high school students look forward to the day they no longer have to crack the books and show up for class every day.
Sammie King looks forward to the day she can go to school.
The 16-year-old is home schooled by a local teacher because she’s too ill to attend class. King was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes seven years ago.
Neuropathy, or nerve damage, prevents her from participating in sports.
“Neuropathy is very painful,” King, daughter of Randy and Caroline King of Franklin Furnace, said. “Sometimes walking is difficult. It feels like walking on a bed of tiny needles. I love sports. I played basketball and volleyball but I am not able to play anymore.”
Gastroparesis, which means paralyzed stomach, makes her stomach unable to empty food normally and causes vomiting and severe nausea.
“Gastroparesis is like having the stomach virus every moment,” she said. “I often vomit after eating or drinking.” King, who wears an insulin pump, has been hospitalized several times for dehydration and, because she is malnourished, has a feeding tube. She has a neurostimulator implanted in her abdomen to provide some relief. She has had several feeding tubes and is set to have a more permanent device put in Friday to provide more nutrition.
However, she plans to walk in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund’s Walk to Cure Diabetes on Saturday in Central Park in Ashland.
Her team, Cure for a King, has raised $2,000 this year.
She said she hopes more people will join the walk on Saturday.
She also hopes her health will improve so she can attend the University of Kentucky, majoring in chemistry and becoming a doctor.
“I dream about getting back to school — this is the hard part of being ill, missing normal teenage things like high school,” she said, noting she makes frequent trips to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville for adjustments to her neurostimulator. “Hopefully when the adjustments work, my symptoms will lessen and I will regain my strength and I will be able to go back to high school.”
Meanwhile, she said she hopes to raise money and awareness about juvenile diabetes.
“Type 1 diabetes is not caused due to too much sugar or lack of exercise,” she said. “It is important to raise awareness of this horrible disease. JDRF is working hard at improving lives of people with Type 1 diabetes and working on a cure.”
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund Walk to Cure Diabetes will be Saturday in Ashland. Registration will begin at 11 a.m. at the bandstand in Central Park; the walk will begin at 12:30 p.m. To make a donation for Sammie King’s team, visit jdrfevents.donordrive.com, click on Community Events and type in Cure for a King.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.