Bergan balances football with diabetes

Type I diabetes has been a part of Sean Bergan’s life for the past three years. The teen learned that he had the disease as a freshman in high school.

Teens have enough problems juggling hormones, school and their social lives and so a disease like diabetes can only cause an immense amount of extra stress.

But for Bergan this is not the case.

“I have to check my blood sugar every time I eat,” he said. “It’s a part of my life and it’s something I had to learn at an early age.”

Bergan not only balances his disease with school and his social life, he just happens to be the defensive team captain on the football team.

“The disease does not limit what I can do,” Bergan said.

Sean Bergan plays one of the hardest football positions on the field, defensive linebacker. At nearly six foot tall and 210 pounds Bergan is a physical specimen and is the last person you would imagine having Type I diabetes.

“It was surprising to me that I got it,” he said. “And it took me time to get used to it. When I got it, I knew something was wrong with me. I had to urinate a lot. I was weak, not eating and I was always thirsty.”

He said his mother was really worried for him when he first got it.

“She too was surprised and scared for me,” Bergan said.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the body normally tells the pancreas to make more insulin when needed. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, so the cells in the body cannot function properly. Type 1 diabetes symptoms tend to make themselves known very quickly and can often be severe enough to require hospitalization.

Type I diabetes is also much rarer than Type II and makes up only five percent of all cases of diabetes.

Bergan has an insulin pump that attaches to his body. Every meal he says he has to calculate the amount of carbs that goes into the body and then he knows how much insulin to pump into his body.

He said the disease has changed his life.

“I had to change everything, checking my blood sugar made me grow up faster,” he said. “Having this disease made me more disciplined. If I do something wrong with my blood sugar it can mess with my circulation and prevent me from playing football.”

His doctor installed an insulin pump for Bergan, which has not stopped him from playing football. Over the years he has grown accustomed to his situation.

“The pump fits into my pocket and connects under my arm,” he said. “When I play football I can detach the pump for up to three hours. During football I am vigilant with checking my blood sugar. I have to be sure the diabetes is taken care of before I step onto the field.”

For Bergan, there is a silver lining living with diabetes. Although it’s no picnic, according to Bergan, there has been some positives from the disease besides maturing him, he also feels he is a better student because of this.

“The discipline I have in checking my disease also affects the way I handle my studies,” he said. “It makes me want to be the best in everything I do, not just football.”

There is no cure for his disease, and yet Bergan maintains a positive attitude. Bergan said the disease is as much a mental disease as it is a physical one.

“Why have a negative attitude,” he said. “If I have a good attitude about it, it’s less stress on me. I can’t let it bother me. If you do, than you already have lost.”

Bergan maintains a strict regimen.

“I will not let my blood sugar take me off the field,” Bergan said. “So far I have been training hard and it has not happened. I have been strict with my blood sugar to keep me on that field. I don’t want to have to come off because of the disease.”

Bergan’s football coach, Adam Gent, believes Bergan to be a great example of hard work.

“Sean is a great young man and leader on our team,” he said. “Most importantly, Sean brings and uses a positive attitude every day. Any coach or person would want him on their team. I’m really excited about senior football season.”