I had to wait more than half my life to overcome the only thing I had never been allowed to do with type 1 diabetes…but I finally prevailed.
You can do almost everything you want to with diabetes. One blaring exception is scuba diving through any NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) organization.
My story is that when I was a graduate student back in 1987, I signed up at the University of California, Davis for a scuba diving certification course. I didn’t know about NAUI or much of anything scuba-related, but got a rude awakening when I was booted out of the class after having a required physical exam and admitting that I had type 1 diabetes. I was devastated. Despite having had diabetes since the age of four, I had never let it stand in my way of reaching my goals (even though I didn’t have a blood glucose meter back then).
So, I went with the UC Davis scuba class to Lake Tahoe and waited lakeside while everyone else in the class got to dive. I guess I was just a glutton for punishment!
What I didn’t know at the time was that the other primary scuba diving organization (PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors) lets people with type 1 diabetes dive, and thousands of individuals with diabetes have dived safely over the years. The Divers Alert Network (DAN) has also advised people with diabetes about staying safe while diving, and many of their recommendations are based on the extensive experience with diving with adults with type 1 diabetes amassed by Steve Prosterman, a diving instructor at the University of the Virgin Islands (who also happens to have type 1 diabetes).
I met Steve at a diabetic athletes’ meeting I attended back in 1990, and after hearing my story, he graciously invited me to come to UVI anytime to learn how to dive with him. I waited 27 years to take him up on his offer, but I finally fulfilled my almost lifelong dream of going scuba diving–on my 50th birthday! It was the best way I could have ever celebrated a half-century of life and almost 46 years living with type 1 diabetes. Thank you, Steve, for helping me make my dream come true!
Sheri, 1; type 1 diabetes and NAUI, 0. Finally!!