FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Tyler Reese is always up for something new.
So, this fall, when the Flowery Branch 17-year old heard about a lacrosse league that was open to home-schooled students, he figured, why not?
So, he joined a team -- and a loves it.
But, earlier this fall, Reese took a hard hit.
"We were just playing a normal game, and I was guarding my guy,” he says. “And, he just rammed the ball right into my gut. I was down for the count for the rest of the game."
It left a bad bruise, but Tyler shook it off as part of the game.
"A couple of days later, it was still hurting really badly,” Reese says. “So, we, of course, went into the hospital, to see, to make sure, that I didn't damage anything."
His mom Kim Reese says things snowballed from there. They went from urgent care to the ER to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Worried about internal bleeding, doctors in the ER ordered a CT scan and blood tests, which led to more blood tests.
Tyler didn’t have internal bleeding or injuries, but he did have something else going on.
His mom says the pediatrician came in with a look on her face that signaled “bad news.”
“And, she's like, ‘He definitely has diabetes. You need to go to the ER.’" Kim Reese remembers.
Tyler has Type 1 diabetes.
Typically diagnosed in children, and young adults, it means his body doesn't produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body covert food into energy.
But there was some good news.
“We found out that, looking at all his blood work, he hadn't done any damage to his body.”
When Tyler thought back on it, he had been experiencing warning signs of diabetes.
"I was going to the bathroom more,” he says. “I was more thirsty. Drinking a lot of water. “
His major concern about having Type 1 diabetes?
“Can I eat the same, that’s all I cared about,” he says.
The answer is yes -- and no.
Tyler can can still eat foods he likes, but he has to stay on top of his blood sugar levels 24/7.
I 've got to check it before every meal and when I'm doing more active activities,” he says. “I have to check it to make sure it's not running too low.”
His mother says there is no more “mindless snacking.”
“There is no more mindless anything,” Kim Reese says. “Everything is planned. And that, that's an adjustment when you're kind of used to not having to do that.”
Tyler uses two types of insulin, a fast-acting and a longer-lasting version. And he tests his blood glucose levels several times a day to make sure levels are not too high or two low.
And, now that he's got his blood sugar under control, he feels much less tired.
He says he’s grateful that hard hit sent him to the hospital.
"I was lucky and we caught it early,” Reese says. “A lot of people don't get that. I could have ended up in the ICU had we not figured it out a lot sooner."
And the Reeses are taking the diagnosis in stride, understanding that diabetes is going to be part of Tyler's life for the rest of his life.
“Sometimes that's all you can do is take a deep breath and hold on for the ride,” says his mother. “Because it is a ride.”