Personal Stories - The University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center

Personal Stories

Meet Sam Tullman, 16

Sam is the only student in his school with diabetes. But that doesn’t stop him from playing varsity football and getting involved in extracurriculars. “Having a routine really helps, especially knowing what to eat before workouts,” he said. “I keep testing my blood sugar and doing the best I can.”

Dr. Lou Philipson works with Sam personally in the management of his diabetes. “Tracking my blood sugar levels is important at different intervals throughout the day, especially when it’s at its highest,” he said.

Sam also credits his diabetes educator, Amy Hess-Fischl, for his understanding of diabetes. “She’s awesome,” he said. “She and Dr. Philipson tell me all I need to know. They’re very practical.”

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8, Sam has developed a sense of respect for others regardless of their race, creed or health status. He works with his school administrators to ensure that clubs and extracurricular activities are well represented with students from a variety of backgrounds. “I guess because of my physical condition, I have developed a greater awareness,” said Sam.

Hess-Fischl said Sam is a stellar patient. “Sam has become such an independent young man, showing that while diabetes is a chronic condition, it does not limit what you do with your life,” she said. “I am proud to have been able to work with him and his family all these years. He and his parents work tirelessly to educate and increase awareness about diabetes.”

A caring family has also been critical to Sam. “My parents have been very calm and supportive, and my older brother and sister always try to help me out,” he said. “They’re just able to tell if my blood sugar is off, and they’ll tell me to test.”

His advice to other students with diabetes: “Take it easy, and don’t rush into anything,” he said. “Don’t stress yourself, and try to stay safe.”