MIRACLE, BABY: a SUPRE documentary on Type 1 Diabetes with NHL Cory Conacher

MIRACLE, BABY: a SUPRE documentary on Type 1 Diabetes with NHL Cory Conacher

Announcer: How was the feeling on the bench? You played a solid first period but you didn’t have anything to show for it yet. Cory: Yeah, I think just our mindset going into this game was just to play hard. Hopefully I
can get a more of an opportunity up here and continue to, you know, help this team
win and I’m just taking a day-by-day and, you know just, you know, like I said
keeping things simple. Announcer: Left at centre. And it’s taken by the spry Teddy Purcell. Puts it in front! He scores! Cory Conacher gets his first NHL goal! A dazzling start to Cory Conacher’s rookie season continues. Living the dream of an NHL player you want to not only play in the NHL but you want to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
That’s the ultimate dream. Only six of 29 games coming in. He scores! Cory Conacher getting a goal. Cory made the team and they gave him a housing letter which
is awesome that’s really the tell-tale sign that you’ve made the team and you’re
gonna be around for the season. I’ve always thought he’s paid his dues to be in the NHL. Finally, this was gonna be his year. Announcer: Then he kicked at it but Conacher was able to punch it in. Tampa Bay with a 2 nothing lead. Announcer: Pass. Conacher up the middle. Swinging it. Shoots. Scores! Tampa Bay is a team that is projected to
finish first in the Atlantic and we have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. I want to be a part of that. Being relentless and being fearless and being hard-nosed and being hard to play against… It you know, it takes a toll on your body for sure. Especially with having diabetes. Down here it’s important for me
to make sure throughout the game and throughout the day that I’m ready to go
to play the minutes and to make sure my body’s ready for that. Announcer: Conacher buries it! I’ve always thought that he’s got a couple bad breaks here and there, but you know, there’s no violins out for Cory Conacher. I thought maybe that this was the year
where, okay I’d be in Tampa and I’d stay in Tampa. They approached Cory and said Ryan Callahan is coming back from injury sooner than we thought. You’re the only one that we can send back to the American League. Getting sent down after they gave me a housing letter… It was tough. That took a big toll on me. I was basically almost in tears. And he handles it the way a real professional does and said No problem. I’ll go down and I’ll make the team better down there. He’s in Syracuse right now. But he’ll be back and we’re just waiting. Resigning with Tampa; I did it because
they have a chance to win the Stanley Cup So it’s going to be interesting to see how the season goes forward There’s a lot of little milestones… When he started smiling, obviously… Any and every smile he completely melts your heart. I am Callum’s mom and he is my first baby. I love like his hands are always near
his face and it’s like the cutest thing but he wakes himself up because he’s like
like right now… I mean Shannon is doing amazing as a first-time mom because it’s not easy when you have the other parent not available. My husband has to leave for work and be in another country. He’s not often around so it’s still an isolating feeling. It’s almost like being a single
parent… but this is my job and if I’ve taken care of Callum in a day that’s where my success comes from. I’m so focused on the baby I’m like I should
probably brush my teeth maybe get a shower in but seriously you you just
don’t think about it. I’m already a high stress person especially being on my own a lot. At times you feel like you’re so overwhelmed that you can’t almost get
through the day. I had postpartum anxiety and I talked to some doctors about it. Overnights are very hard for me to be
alone so I’ve had my mom or my sister come and stay over. She’s only 12 minutes away from me right now and I can go over as much as I want. My husband’s mom she’s always there to help and you never feel like a burden.
She has four kids and she has two grandkids and we’ve both always dreamed
of having a big family. When she calls I answer and I’m there to help whatever I can. Uh oh, do you have your keys? Do you have your purse? I think they’re in the house. When we discovered that we were going to have problems we went to a fertility
specialist and actually ended up that both my husband and I had different
problems that could prevent us from having a baby naturally. The whole thing was just very emotionally draining on all of us but especially for Shannon. Because she wanted to have a baby so bad. When Cory was growing up all he did was
wheel around the house in roller hockey skates with a stick in his hand pretty much
from the time he got up in the morning to timing like the bed. I think because of what he’s had to deal with in his life the odds of Cory doing what he did were stacked against him. Let’s talk about his size, being diabetic and being born in December… There’s this guy he’s really fast, he’s really skilled… not very big. We have him recorded at 5 foot 8. He could be a quarter inch or so lower than that… Why would Cory put himself in jeopardy… as a small guy to go against these massive, big, strong guys they’re a foot taller than him in some cases. I’m the little guy so I have to go in those dirty areas and go in front of the net and do the little things no matter who’s in the way I gotta go and get what I want. Every time Cory’s on the ice I get concerned he’s gonna get hurt. The risk is that the big guys are just going to overpower you and keep you to the outside where it’s harder to score from. There are coaches along the way that have absolutely discarded him when they saw his height Type 1 diabetes, which is what we are
talking about in the case of Cory, is an autoimmune condition that destroys
the insulin producing cells of the pancreas… and it’s not until most of
those insulin producing cells are destroyed that children start to develop symptoms: high blood sugars, they start to become more thirsty they need to use the
bathroom more frequently and eventually the insulin amounts become so low that
they start to develop ketoacidosis that makes the blood more acidic and that causes immediate harm. When the family doctor said get to the hospital right away… that was devastating like what is wrong with our son? Many of our patients particularly our younger ones do present in ketoacidosis. They’re in the intensive care unit. Their families are just totally blown out of the water. 90% of them will not have a family history so it is entirely unexpected. It’s an obvious disadvantage when you
have juvenile diabetes. You have to overcome the physical part of that the
mental part of that get over that. Get into a dressing room with other kids
your age they’re asking questions about what’s that thing hanging off your body. Participation sports adds a layer of complexity. Insulin requirements may be different during times of vigorous sports activities but those are all
things that are very manageable and that we would routinely teach all families. The part of the juvenile diabetes is when an adult dismisses you because they
know that might be a burden for the team the coach or the training staff to
have to deal with… and that has happened to Cory. Cory was born December 14th, 1989. January February and March are dominant on hockey rosters and we would never recruit someone just because of their birth month but you do notice it. Gladwell in his book reported that those born in the last part of the year might as well give up on hockey. And if Cory ever heard that he would take that as a challenge. He was 17 years old… and we had guys on our team that were 25 years old… and Cory was going to be competing against those guys and month didn’t matter at that time so when we evaluate the birth month versus
the birth year the seventeen-year-old thing was bigger than being born in
December. I would guarantee every player in NHL can say they some point they got
a break… and we felt that Cory was above average in four of the five criteria and
he was below average in size. I said well we’re not gonna worry about it. If he’s dynamic enough then we would be willing to take that chance.
It solidified that match that Canisius and Cory Conacher were was a really good
fit. Cory Connor is the only 17 year old player that I’ve ever had on the hockey team. Now he’s on a mission to get back to the NHL. His dream has never wavered. I think he’s doing everything in his power now in Syracuse to try and get back to Tampa
because he wants to prove again that he deserves to be there. Get your toys, Callum. Get your toys. Good boy. My kids always wanted to have kids. And Shannon… I remember where they got married I think Shannon was 26 and she’s thinking right away like within a year or two we’re gonna have a baby. We did some tests and at one point the
thought was that we maybe couldn’t have a biological child at all which was
really hard for both of us. We went to a fertility specialist. We found out we could have a child biologic through IVF. There was only two viable embryos. At first you think I’m young I’m gonna have so many embryos I’m gonna be
able to have as many kids as I want. You kind of feel like your body betrays you. My husband left for work that year… the first week of September and the
second week of September I lost the first embryo. I just remember getting the
call in my apartment and I was by myself and I just bawled. It was awful it’s just the worst call. For our last one when I finally got the
courage to… I implanted the last embryo by myself and thank God… the pregnancy test was positive. And then come Christmas my husband still wasn’t
home and I started to bleed. She started bleeding and things that was just like oh my gosh this is the worst. I thought I miscarried. My one appointment where they
were gonna look at possibly scraping the baby out they did an
ultrasound and there was a heartbeat. I called my husband. Literally showed him the ultrasound and he went crazy. It was all worth it. All the heartache all
the needles all the jabbing and poking around they did like the pain the
surgery it it doesn’t matter anymore like you totally forget about it when
he’s here. Deb is the toughest person I know. I couldn’t imagine what she went through. I mean if someone is to have a son with bladder
exstrophy not knowing she didn’t know before he was born that he had it If someone could handle it, it’s Debbie. I can’t imagine having to watch your son in so much pain. So bladder exstrophy was a complete shock in our world. We didn’t know anything about it. We were told that it’s very rare. I remember distinctly them telling me what was wrong with him and they said just what
we saw was your bladder’s sitting on your tummy. So then how do you deal with that. It’s about a ten-hour operation. Usually they like to do it around day five. The first part of the procedure is breaking the pelvis and getting the bladder back inside and then you reconstruct the pelvis. The biggest issue is that children with this defect a lot of times don’t walk with a normal gait. So you know I’m like okay so he’s not gonna walk properly whatever as long
as they can fix him… like just start praying. My grandma always said God gives you what you can handle so he knew I could handle it… Practices are important especially for professional athletes. It’s where you get better. If you’re not getting better in practice you’re not getting better in the game. You know there’s people always watching
coaches or watching they watch your work ethic… and especially as an older guy now
it’s important to work hard in practice because the guys that are younger than
you are following in your footsteps. So if you’re not working hard they won’t be
and then the team’s not going to get better. The Crunch’s losing streak is up to three games in a row now But the big story again this week, Cory Conacher has been assigned by the Tampa Bay Lightning. We have to be the youngest team in the American Hockey League and to bring a guy who started
his career in the AHL as a rookie won Rookie of the Year, League MVP, won a Calder Cup all in his first year… that leadership for our team is invaluable. You don’t see him quit. You don’t see him give up. I think that has a lot to do with his diabetes. He always had something to overcome and it seems like that’s something that carries over to him on the ice as well. It’s tough because with diabetes you never
know how many minutes you’re playing. The more minutes you play the more sensitive you have to be with your numbers. The main thing is managing blood sugars
during the activity and that’s because we want to ensure the blood sugars are
neither too high nor too low. There’s a lot of calculating of things in diabetes. We’re trying to take over the role that the pancreas would be doing if it was
doing its job which it’s not. Cory Conacher can be a great model. He’s showing what this league is all about, how to be a pro player We found our identity throughout
the week in practice and I think we just realize how hard is win in this league and I just try to bring a little leadership to the group. Cory Conacher is a great player and we really need him, too. … he’s in on goal… shoots he scores! It’s a one goal game for Cory Conacher! …circle back to the point Cernak one
timer… Score! yeah I think this weekend was… it showed that we could play in this league and we can win games this league. We understood that if we play the way we
did in second and third we can win a lot of games. Go Crunch! He shoots he scores! Turnaround shot score! Lately we’ve just been working hard and we have guys just the doing right things in the right
places and fortunately the puck’s going in for us With Cory playing in the American
Hockey League All-Star game, first and foremost I’m proud and I think it’s an acknowledgment that he’s one of the best players in the world. He scored in his first NHL game. He scored in his first college game. He wants to be important. I find that a lot of the children that we see end up being very high
achieving adults which i think is good for families to know because the
skills that the children develop managing this condition that the
families develop as a whole working together oftentimes they end up
excelling in in life. The big thing for him is having the pump handy at all times. Normally I play without the pump. I’ll keep it on the bench and I’ll check
my numbers throughout the game but sometimes my numbers spike up and have
to put my pump in. Usually the reason why I run in problems is because I’m not
wearing my sensor so if I’m going low it’ll shot my pump right off and it
won’t give me insulin. Whereas if I’m not wearing a sensor it doesn’t know when to
do that and that’s why I keep going low and that’s why that’s when it spirals
into some serious issues. It is challenging to manage diabetes in the context of activity because the insulin takes a little while to get into the
bloodstream. There is a lack of spontaneity in the dose administration.
So I think that’s what they’re working on in industry now is to try to get a
faster fast acting insulin and the faster the better. If it can work
immediately I mean that would be awesome especially with a lot of the technology
that we have coming the closed loop systems and things were there’s
computers delivering insulin based on your blood sugar so that the faster the insulin the better we’re going to be at automating the blood sugar management. We have the All-Star Game tomorrow night and then the following morning 6:00 am I’m hopping on a flight and flying back to Toronto. I’m gonna go
back home for a couple days where we’re doing it nice
family dinner. My brothers in town. My sister will be there. We have a fun family. It’s a good group and I love being around them as much as I can. It’s going to be nice to go home and see them. I think somebody made fun of me and then Cory came out and chirped them for chirping me. Sticking up for her. Protecting her. I don’t remember how it really we were
pretty young how old are we first meet? 14 maybe. I think that’s what it was because I remember looking over and being like “who is that that just
like stuck up for me?” That little guy over there! Yeah, the tiny one in the corner. But after that I remember asking my girlfriend “who is that?” and the first thing she said was “That’s Cory. He has no belly button.” Yeah I was like “all right, Cory with no belly button. I gotta remember that” In my opinion it was going to be really difficult… to find the right girl for him. Cory was so involved with how complicated his life was with juvenile diabetes, dealing with bladder
exstrophy, focused on his sports, eat sleep breathe hockey, that girls weren’t a big part of his life. Out of the blue, Shannon appeared. I was very focused about hockey. I tried to let her know it may be selfish to have a girlfriend because I wouldn’t be taking the time to spend with her as much. She tried a few times to change my mind. I can’t say I didn’t like it because I always liked flirting with her I always managed to get her away from her boyfriends eventually and I kind of had the plan to get through college and try to make a career out of hockey and finally I did and it was in Norfolk.
It was in January of 2012 that we started dating. When you look at Cory and
you don’t know anything about him you would say “Wow – good-looking kid. Nice kid. Humble. Down to earth. With his bladder exstrophy and diabetes… I always thought that it was gonna be a huge burden for
somebody else to share with him. So type 1 diabetes is a real challenge. You say it’s a challenge but it’s just so life-altering it’s so in-your-face it
never stops it’s just day in and day out management, management, management. Years ago when we first started dating and living together he would sit on the lower end so, one, he didn’t feel as low but he would get super super low without feeling it. Until you have it until you
live with someone that has it you don’t understand what it really is. I remember one time he was low and he was trying to cut cheese he had this huge knife in his
hand but he started losing his balance so I’m holding his wrist and we’re in the kitchen I’m like “put the knife down!” The roommate comes out. He’s in his underwear. He’s like “what’s going on?!” He’s freaking out. He’s grabbing Cory. It was this huge uproar because he was he was trying
to help himself but he just couldn’t. If you stop managing it you’re going down. It’s unfortunate because you’d hope that they could help themselves but
they can’t. He’s just he’s just not there. To have somebody come into his
life like Shannon and take on this situation with open arms… One of the conversations I had with Cory is that you have to you have to make sure
Shannon knows everything, Cory. You know juvenile diabetes is only part of your life. You have this other part that nobody really knows about. To be fair to her you have to explain everything. And he said that I did. And she wants to be here with me. Bladder exstrophy is something that’s kind of been scary to have my whole life. I was born with it so a lot of things that you go through only people with bladder exstrophy will understand but I never thought I would have a girlfriend let alone a wife let alone a kid so to have someone that’s as patient as Shannon was growing up and
to have her understand you know a little bit about bladder exstrophy and
and stuff like that was an absolute blessing I always thought that I
wouldn’t be able to have a family and I loved kids growing up more so than a lot
of people I think I just loved being around them. I thought I wouldn’t be able to
have one myself so that’s maybe why I cared so much about the other babies
because I wanted to just feel what it was like but it took me a little longer then I think Shannon wanted to have our kid but I think it
was just because I was scared that I would get the answer that I couldn’t
and so finally I ended up going and getting checked out and they said it was basically there’s, other than like Shannon said, a couple roadblocks they
said it should be no problem. We’d just have to do a few extra steps more than the regular people, that you’d be able to have a kid. It was amazing. I’m just glad I didn’t just wait and not be with because you know Cal is the best
thing that’s ever happened to me I there’s no goal there’s no nothing that
happened in my hockey career, there’s nothing else that is more important than Cal or that makes me feel happier than having Cal. Before I had him I’d want him to be a hockey player but now that I have him I just want him to be happy and
healthy. So if he doesn’t like hockey it’s not the end of the world. I’ll go to wherever he’s got going on. If it’s music or being an accountant or a lawyer it’s all about him just being happy in life. But I’ll be his number one fan if he’s a hockey player, that’s for sure. Growing up, dealing with all the issues I dealt with, my parents they never said I couldn’t do anything. They never said couldn’t go play with my friends. I couldn’t go on sleepovers. I couldn’t do whatever it was as a kid they never told me I couldn’t do it even with diabetes. Sure, behind the scenes you know they were teary eyed or crying or sad but in
front of me they always were very positive with me and I think that’s what
helped me become a professional athlete I’m gonna try and follow that and do the
same with Cal do it takes a you know be a good dad. I know my parents were the
best parents a kid could ask for so it’s it’s important for me to hopefully
follow what they did with me and bring some of that into Cal’s life as well. I usually tell kids to dream big. I feel like I’m teaching the parents more than I’m teaching the kids. It’s all about the parents having a good attitude like I said with my parents. So for kids growing up and kids who get diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, nowadays there’s a sensor, there’s a pump, there’s so many different things that you can get that can it make it life so much easier for you but I know my parents always tell me that I act like I don’t have diabetes but if you’re testing your blood sugar if you’re eating well if you’re sleeping well if you’re doing all the right things to control your diabetes then you could you could dream big and live
the life you want to live.

2 Replies to “MIRACLE, BABY: a SUPRE documentary on Type 1 Diabetes with NHL Cory Conacher”

  1. Cory is an inspiration. We loved having him in Norfolk when he played for the Admirals, and they won the Calder Cup in 2012. Great player and a great guy! Always a fan!

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