Michael Taylor knows that he wants to play baseball and from an early age, he never let the fact that he suffers from Type-1 Diabetes get in the way. Diagnosed with the disease at the age of ten, Taylor was lucky to have a loving family around him that provided not just a support staff, but a strong group of people who taught him what discipline is all about and what it can do for a person. His family took the time to learn all they could about the disease and passed along that learning to Michael, along with instilling in him the need to be disciplined in dealing with the disease.
"My parents tackled this with me at a very young age. We tackled this from an education standpoint in learning about the disease and also from a sports aspect, in learning about what's going on and we came up with a plan," explained Taylor. "Really after the first couple of years, we really became just like a team and by the time I was 13 or 14, I was dosing myself and carrying insulin on my own. They were adamant that I learned it and I did and it made the transition into being an adult with diabetes a little easier."
That education has made Taylor an expert on how to handle his diabetes. He's proud of the fact that he has never had to come out of a game or miss a game because of the disease and that's a streak that he plans to keep going throughout his career. One key for Taylor is that he is constantly checking his blood sugar - usually between ten and 15 times a day - to be sure he knows what's going on with his body. Generally, it's only necessary to check blood sugar a few times a day, but Taylor doesn't want any surprises.
"I always want to know where I am [concerning his blood sugar] and I don't want any surprises," said Taylor. "It's an expense for me because I have to pay for all of the extra supplies, but it's worth it for me."
When you consider all of the variables that go into handling Diabetes, Taylor has done an extraordinary job of controlling the disease. Anything from temperature changes to game conditions and obviously, the food that he eats, can contribute to changes in his blood sugar. Taylor sets himself up so that he knows where his blood sugar will be for a three or four hour span of a game, but sometimes that time frame changes. When we were speaking with him, it was after sitting through a lengthy rain delay only to have a rainout. That time spent waiting rather than playing can affect his blood sugar. But because he's educated himself so well as to how to handle the disease, Taylor can make subtle changes that will put him right back on track and help him to deal with the disease.
Because of what he's accomplished in his career and how he's learned to play at high levels even with Diabetes, Taylor has drawn some interest from parents of children who also deal with the disease and he's been willing to take the time to spread some of what he's learned with kids who suffer with Diabetes.
"I actually got a really nice letter from one family. I had talked to their son for ten or 15 minutes after a game about staying focused and making sure you check yourself and putting together a good plan," said Taylor with a proud smile on his face. "I really just want to remind people that everyone has their set of trials to deal with and to be honest, if you're only a diabetic in your life, you should count yourself pretty lucky," believes Taylor. "It can be controlled and if you're diligent enough in what you're doing, you can definitely succeed in athletics or the business world or anything if you want to."
Taylor credits the strong support system of his parents and younger sister for helping him not just with Diabetes, but with getting to where he is today. "They've all been great," said Taylor of his family. "Like I said earlier, we really are a team and we work together to help each other, whether it's dealing with something like this or whatever it might be, we are always there for each other."
If you missed Part One of our discussion with Michael Taylor, you can find it here.