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Specialty Treatment Helps College Bound Patient Manage Diagnosis (Video)

Joe Fratini of Longmeadow has played hockey and lacrosse for most of his life. The avid athlete knew something was wrong when he started experiencing weird symptoms at 13.

“I couldn’t sleep at night, I was constantly getting up to go to the bathroom and I was always thirsty,” said Joe. “I had a hard time staying awake in class, I didn’t feel right, something was wrong,” he added.

Joe wasn’t alone; his family started noticing the changes too.

“Joe played hockey since he was 4-years-old,” said Mary Fratini, Joe’s mother. “We could tell something was up when we noticed he was always tired and a bit more sluggish out on the ice,” she added.

After having tests done at his yearly physical, Joe was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Following his diagnosis, Joe was referred to the Baystate Children’s Specialty Center for Diabetes treatment and education.

“I learned how to count carbs, how to use needles and give myself insulin, pretty much everything I needed to know about managing my diabetes,” Joe said.

Joe wasn’t the only one who was trained-his entire family went through an education process to learn how to help Joe manage his diagnosis.

“He got his first dose of insulin, then, the next morning we met with the pediatric endocrinologist Rushika Conroy and started our lessons,” said Mary. “We had two six hour classes where we learned everything we needed to know about being diabetic,” she added.

Now 18, Joe is preparing to go off to Merrimack College in the fall. Thanks to help from the staff at the Baystate Children’s Specialty Center, Joe not only has his diabetes under control, he and his family are confident that he has the education he needs to keep healthy while away at school.

“Those classes were very important, we knew nothing at all about diabetes,” said Mary. “Now with him preparing to off to college, I’m confident that he will be healthy and able manage his diagnosis on his own,” Mary said.

Thanks to the support from the Baystate Children’s Specialty Center, Joe says he’s comfortable managing his diabetes and will continue to be athletic regardless of his diagnosis.

“Never let your diagnosis stop you, educate yourself and find a way to overcome it,” he said.