A Different Kind Of Opponent

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Jonas Lutjen

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Jonas Lutjen
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

May 3, 2013

By Sarah Vaughan
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations

Senior men’s tennis player Jonas Lutjen estimates he’s played in over 5,000 matches throughout his life.  He has been ranked as high as No. 4 in juniors in Germany and as high as No. 5 in collegiate tennis, all while living with Type 1 diabetes.

The 22-year-old Schessel, Germany native has lived with diabetes for 19 years. He was diagnosed at the age of three.

“I found out I had diabetes because, when you have high blood sugar, you are really thirsty,” he said.  “I was at my grandma’s house, and I was drinking Coke all day. She told me to stop drinking Coke and that I couldn’t have anymore.  I locked myself in the bathroom and was just drinking tap water. That’s when my grandma knew there was something wrong, so we got it checked out, and found out I had diabetes.”

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that affects the pancreas. Some people are born with pancreases that do not have islet cells with the ability to produce insulin. Others are typically diagnosed with the disease following an illness in which the body fails to recognize its own tissues and inadvertently attacks itself in an attempt to ward off foreign invaders. Genetics and contact with certain viruses may also play a role in contracting the disease.

In addition to taking at least five insulin injections a day, one injection of slow-acting insulin in the morning and one at night and three injections of fast-acting insulin after meals, Lutjen also tests his blood sugar around 10 times a day, sometimes more, depending on the amount of exercise he gets. On average, he practices around 20 hours a week.

“On days that I play, I take less insulin, and from experience, I know how much to take and how much more I should take if I don’t do anything,” he said.

Lutjen said he does not remember a time when he did not have diabetes and that having no family members with the disease meant his family had to learn how to treat it once he was diagnosed. He now has a routine that allows him to effectively manage his blood sugars, eating the same types of meals at the same time of day and getting plenty of exercise, both of which keep Lutjen’s blood sugars stabilized.

“Sometimes it’s kind of hard to play with, but if you manage it well, you can deal with it,” he said.

Even with an effective plan, however, high and low blood sugars can still occur, sometimes during a match. In order to prevent his blood sugar from getting low while playing, Lutjen carries gummy bears and packets of sugar in his pockets and rehydrates with Gatorade.

“It’s hard to start a match when your sugar is low or high, and you can’t really give yourself an insulin shot,” he said. “It just takes a while to start working, so that’s what makes it hard, but the longer the match lasts the better I feel.”

Many people are surprised to find out that Lutjen has diabetes because he manages to keep his blood sugars stabilized while also having a successful tennis career.

The All-American and two-time All-SEC honoree has become one of the top collegiate players in the nation in both singles and doubles.   

Just as impressive is the fact that he seems to humbly accept the disease as part of his life.

“The hardest thing is saying no to really good foods that are bad for you, but in general you just have to manage it and always take care of your body,” he said. “It took me a while to get used to it, testing my sugar and injecting myself, but it’s just what you have to do.”

Even Lutjen’s teammates were surprised to learn he was living with diabetes.

“I’m not even sure if all of them are aware I have it,” he said. “Some of them know, but for me, diabetes isn’t really something that sticks out. Sometimes they might see me test my blood sugar or take my injections, but I think they are used to it.”

Lutjen, who plans to turn pro after graduation, said diabetes should never prevent anyone from pursuing his or her goal of playing a sport.

“Actually, playing a sport helps you, because it keeps your sugar low so you take less insulin, and you’re more active,” he said. “For me the worst thing I could do is have a day without playing at all because my sugar would get high, and then I would have to take more insulin and could not eat as much.  It helps me to live a better and healthier lifestyle.  It makes me feel better.”

When asked if he believed he would have done anything differently without diabetes, he said, “my fingers would look a little nicer, but other than that, everything would be the same.”

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Chadwick'sTop Moments: No. 10

      Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - Men's Tennis

      Moving along chronologically, today we delve into the top 10 moments of Ole Miss men's tennis coach Billy Chadwick continuing with the 2005 season, which was one of the most exciting seasons in Ole Miss tennis history. In 2005, the... read more

    • VIDEO: SEC Network 'Take It All In' Promo

      Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - Athletics

      read more

    • Chadwick's Top Moments: No. 11

      Monday, April 21, 2014 - Men's Tennis

      On this Monday we take a look at moment No. 11 of the top moments in Billy Chadwick's career.  This moment encompasses a year full of great accomplishments that Chadwick made the norm for the Ole Miss tennis program.  In... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (April 14-20)

      Monday, April 21, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 14-20, 2014Baseball- Ole Miss went 1-2 last week vs. No. 7 LSU, dropping a 13-inning affair in the series opener before taking game two and falling in the series finale.- Ole Miss became the... read more

    • Baseball Scorecards Tell the Story

      Monday, April 21, 2014 - Baseball

      Earlier this baseball season, Ole Miss tied a game on a dropped fly ball with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, which was a case of deja vu for Ole Miss fan Curtis Wilkie, who remembered the same... read more

    • Closing Time

      Monday, April 21, 2014 - Women's Golf

      Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} Normal 0 false false false EN-US... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-LSU Highlights

      Saturday, April 19, 2014 - Baseball

      read more

    • Rebels Drop Series With Shutout Loss To LSU

      Saturday, April 19, 2014 - Baseball

      Sam Smith posted his eighth straight quality start, but it was not enough, as LSU shut out Ole Miss 2-0 Saturday afternoon to take the three-game series. It was the first time that the Rebels had been shutout since a... read more

    • Rainy Start to the SEC Championships

      Friday, April 18, 2014 - Women's Golf

      Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} Ole Miss women's golf sports information... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-LSU Highlights

      Friday, April 18, 2014 - Baseball

      read more

    • Bousfield's 4-For-4 Game Lifts Rebels To Win

      Friday, April 18, 2014 -

      LSU looked to have gotten out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but right fielder Mark Laird dropped a fly ball in foul territory that would have been the final out and send the game to the fifth down... read more

    • Rebel Road Trip 2014: Look Back Video

      Friday, April 18, 2014 - Athletics

      BancorpSouth Rebel Road Trip 2014: Look Back Video from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Ellis Duels Nola To A Draw In Series Opener

      Thursday, April 17, 2014 - Baseball

      For eight innings, Chris Ellis dueled Aaron Nola, the Southeastern Conference's leader in strikeouts (84) and earned run average (0.70) to a draw, as he left with the game with the score tied at 2-2. It was the eighth time... read more

    • I'm Back

      Thursday, April 17, 2014 - Women's Golf

      Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} Ole Miss women's golf sports information... read more

    • Two More Second-Round Projections For Moncrief

      Thursday, April 17, 2014 - Football

      Two new mock drafts released this week has former wide receiver Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief being selected in the late second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, set for May 8-10. NFL media analyst Bucky Brooks projects Moncrief... read more