Scott Dunton is a world-class professional surfer who started surfing at the age of 5. He started surfing competitively when he was 15 years old in local contests in central California. He has surfed the California coastline as well as Hawaii, Florida, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. He plays water polo and is a whitewater rafter, water skier and wakeboarder. Dunton also spends time talking to kids and teens about living with diabetes.
Diabetes1: How did you find out you had diabetes?
Scott Dunton: I found out I had diabetes at the age of 16. I had to get a job and the company required a drug test for all employees. Needless to say I passed the drug test but the doctor noticed a lot of sugar in my urine.
Diabetes1: What was your reaction?
Scott Dunton: I didn’t really know what diabetes was until we got to the hospital. When the doctor first told me I wasn’t that worried then my mom started to cry and I got scared. After the dietitian talked to me and said all the food that I could eat any more and the nurse told me that I was going to have to take shots every day I was nervous.
Diabetes1: How did it change your surfing?
Scott Dunton: When I was diagnosed that first week they told me that I couldn’t surf anymore because it was unsafe for a diabetic to be in the ocean alone due to the fact I could have low blood sugar and pass out. They said there was a good chance that would happen and I wouldn’t make it back to shore. So for the first year it really affected my surfing because I wasn’t allowed to surf. Then after changing doctors to Dr. Kevin Kaiserman, he really put a new spin on diabetes for me and let me get back in the water and start surfing again. He just made me start taking care of myself and instead of scaring me he just made me aware of what could happen and let me know ways to keep it from happening. He was and still is a big part of my diabetes life and an inspiration for sure.
Diabetes1: How did you/your parents find good information about treatment after your diagnosis?
Scott Dunton: My mom went online and just downloaded as many things as she could about diabetes and ways to help out. I think a lot of the stuff that she learned was good info but like anything else you read online you have to strain out the bad and keep the good.
Diabetes1: Can you recommend any good books on diabetes?
Scott Dunton: I think books like the Diabetic Athlete are good books since they talk not only about inspirational people with diabetes and what they have done but it shows kids people who were in the same shoes as them and have taken lemons and made lemonade. Living with diabetes can’t be learned by reading a book but it’s always nice to have extra info.
Diabetes1: How did you manage having a surfing career and living with diabetes?
Scott Dunton: It was challenging at times for sure, being in different countries all the time and eating random food and not being able to see how many carbs things had made it tough. I had some problems with customs a couple of times. I think it’s a for sure stop if they find a bag of needles in your stuff. But before I surf I check my blood sugar and by having good control that’s about all it effects. It might take me 5 seconds longer to get in the water once I get to the beach because I have to test but that’s minor.
Diabetes1: Do you use an insulin pump? How did it change your diabetes management?
Scott Dunton: I do wear an insulin pump. I wear the Medtronic 722. I can’t tell you how much it has changed things for me – it has been incredible to tell you the truth. I have been on the pump for the last 5 years and I wouldn’t ever go back to shots after being on this thing. The freedom that it gives you to eat whatever you want whenever you want to and not have to pull out a needle and draw up some insulin. Along with the pump I have the Constant Glucose Monitoring System AKA CGMS. This little transmitter is responsible for my life being where it is today. I used to hate testing so when you are forced to do something you hate obviously I wouldn’t do it often. I would test like 3-4 times a day. With this thing on I get 288 blood sugar readings a day. That’s one every 5 minutes and it shows you on a graph so you can see the trends and if you’re starting to drop an alarm goes off and same if you forget to take your insulin and are going above your personally-set goal an alarm goes off letting you know. So it has made having good blood sugars no problem.
Diabetes1: Is there anything diabetes still holds you back from?
Scott Dunton: Nope
Diabetes1: Did you experience any pressure during teenage years from your peers who were not aware of what diabetes was?
Scott Dunton: I didn’t really experience anything negative in terms of peer pressure. I never drank growing up and I still don’t. A lot of people have thought it was because I am diabetic but it’s really not. I just never needed to. I have so much fun in life without drinking. I guess I just never had the urge to drink. That was the only peer pressure that I ever really got growing up and it’s easy to say “I don’t drink” so it wasn’t a hard thing to get past.
Diabetes1: What is your advice to active kids/teens that are diagnosed with diabetes?
Scott Dunton: The most important thing about being diagnosed with diabetes is to never be embarrassed about it. I was for the first couple years and it almost cost me my life because not that many people knew I was diabetic so the one time something bad did happen no one knew why or how to help. The main reason that I never said anything about it was because I was so worried that my current friends weren’t going to like me anymore or they would think I was weird and not want to be friends. I tell kids now you just have to ask yourself if one of your friends just got diagnosed would you make fun of them or not want to be friends… I hope most people would say no. For me I just decided that if someone didn’t want to be friends because I had diabetes then I wouldn’t have been friends with them anyways.
Diabetes1: How do you feel about the future of the surfing?
Scott Dunton: For me it’s undecided. We have been talking a lot about starting a family so I’m not sure how many contests I am going to make it to with a kid but I will surf for the rest of my life. Surfing has given me so many great things in my life. Without surfing I wouldn’t be with Stacy. I met her because of where I was due to surfing so I’m thankful for that. The other thing surfing has given me is the chance to travel around and talk with kids and people working with or living with diabetes. I have had the chance to talk with thousands and thousands of people over the past couple years and I have learned that there is more to life than just surfing every day. I feel really good when I win a contest or have a good day surfing but the feeling I get when a kid writes me an e-mail saying how I helped inspire them to reach for their goals and realize diabetes wasn’t the end of life. I would trade surfing forever for every one of those letters. I feel like I have gotten the chance to give back to the diabetes world that helped get me through the hardest time of my life and let me grab hold of my dreams in life.
Diabetes1: What is your advice to inspiring athletes who are diabetic?
Scott Dunton: The main thing you have to remember is that even living with diabetes you still have the same chance at being the best in the world as everyone else. The only thi9ng you have to realize is that checking your sugars and taking care of yourself isn’t just to please your parents or the doctor. It’s more about letting you feel and compete at the best of your abilities. So don’t do it for them do it for yourself because by not testing or having a bad A1C all you do is hurt your chances of becoming the best in the world at whatever you do.
Diabetes1: Are you involved in any other sports regularly outside of surfing?
Scott Dunton: I play golf a lot. The thing I like about golf is that you really can’t ever play the best that you are capable of. Every time I play I learn something new and my game gets a little better. So it keeps me playing. Another pastime I really enjoy is hunting. I can go hunt with some of my friends or by myself and it’s just you and the straight up wild. So it’s cool and you get to bring home a bunch of food for your family and it’s always a good feeling to do that.
Diabetes1: What is your favorite breakfast?
Scott Dunton: My fiancée cooks great meals almost every day so it’s hard to just pick one but my favorite would have to be pancakes. I’m not sure how she makes them but anytime I try they don’t come out as good as the ones she makes.
Diabetes1: Did you need to change your food habits as a result of diabetes?
Scott Dunton: Not at all. I think about things before I eat them, just how many carbs they have but I still honestly do eat anything I want whenever. It works if you have good blood sugar levels and you know how much insulin to take for what you want to eat. All you have to do it load up your plate and then monitor your sugars later to make sure you did your math right and you took enough insulin.
Diabetes1: What are your plans for the future?
Scott Dunton: I am planning on getting married this year and to tell you the truth I am ready to have kids and start a family. I love kids more that anything. I think that all the traveling I have done to diabetes events and hanging out with kids of all ages down to infants has made me appreciate them and how great they are. So yeah I’m ready to have some of my own running around causing trouble.