Jul 08, 2019

Local Teen Drew Frankel Tackling Opponents and Diabetes

By Lori Draz and Andrew Frankel

andrew frankel rumson nj

Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry, let’s just get to sharing.

This month’s author is Rumson’s 17-year-old Andrew “Drew” Frankel, a junior and a dedicated varsity athlete at RFH. Frankel’s teams have competed and taken home six state titles. He faced many opponents in achieving those accomplishments, but one opponent, type 1 diabetes, would be a challenger that would change the way he lives his life. Frankel made a decision to take on the challenge head first and not let his condition limit any part of his life or his relationships. Frankel has learned that being responsible and actively involved in every day of his life has actually allowed him to lead a joyful, accomplished life where the sky is the limit. Here is Frankel’s story:

My name is Drew Frankel. I live in Rumson with my parents, my two sisters and my dog, Maisy.

I love Rumson and consider myself lucky to be a part of this awesome community that is practically on the beach and very close to New York City. I started watching RFH sports with my dad when I was 5 years old, and now I am proud to play on three varsity sports teams (football, basketball and lacrosse).

Up until the seventh grade, my life was simple and easy. I had a family that I loved and tons of friends. I spent my summers at my beach club and loved playing year-round sports. Then, in seventh grade, my life changed forever when, out of the blue, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I was devastated. I remember being in the hospital. My best friend, Hunter, and I were playing video games and I overheard the doctors telling my parents, “His pancreas doesn’t work anymore,” “He will be insulin-dependent for the rest of his life,” “He will have to count all his food’s carbohydrates before eating,” “High blood sugar will damage his organs and low blood sugars will make him  feel clammy and nauseous and could possibly cause him to go into a coma if not corrected in time.”

Needless to say, I was terrified. But I also remember feeling extremely determined. I made a promise to myself and literally said aloud, “I will not let this disease stop me from playing sports or doing any of the things I love.”  That promise, along with the support of my family, friends and girlfriend are the reasons I am who I am today.

It’s been five years since diagnosis, and I am proud to say that I have kept the promise and not let my diabetes hinder my life at all. I simply will not let it slow me down. I carefully watch what I eat and exercise often. I have dedicated myself to my sports. I have played three varsity sports every year since I was a freshman and have taken home six state titles in my nine seasons. I am extremely proud of these accomplishments because living with type 1 diabetes is hard. It’s actually a lot like the doctor said back when I was first diagnosed. Keeping my blood sugar at a perfect level is virtually impossible. If my blood sugar goes too high, I lose weight and get splitting headaches. If my blood sugar goes too low, I pretty much can’t function until I get it back to normal. My pancreas doesn’t work at all and it never will, so preventing all these hard things from happening is something I think about all the time. The fact is that some nights I get less than an hour of real sleep because my blood sugar is fluctuating, and sometimes I have to sit out half of practice because my body simply will not allow me to play, but if you didn’t know me, you would never guess that I deal with these things.

I still eat at Chipotle with my friends four times a week, just with less rice. I’m still playing Xbox in my basement, although I was late to the Fortnite party and it shows. I’m still in the weight room every day with my teams. I can still take my girlfriend out to dinner; I just need to inject myself with insulin before the food comes. The important thing I want people to know is that every day I wake up with a disease that will likely never go away, and that is a scary thought, but I also wake up every day knowing that I made a promise to myself and that I can do what I need to stay on top of this disease. I also know that I have the best family in the world, the best friends a kid could have, a girlfriend that I love, a town that feels like a family, good grades and a passion for sports that has only grown since my diagnosis. Those things will surely never go away. So, the way I see it, God gave me an obstacle to overcome, but he also gave me the blessings I need to overcome it – and then some.

If you are facing an obstacle, stay strong and vigilant and let the people around you give you the support you need to face your challenges. No one’s life is perfect, but you have a right and the ability to be happy.