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The DX Diabetes Dish: Miguel Paludo

NASCAR driver on life in the fast lane with T1

The DX regularly features The DX Diabetes Dish, a profile about life and life with diabetes. Here, we dish with Miguel Paludo, a 29-year-old NASCAR driver from Brazil, who lives life on the fast track! He finished fifth in the 2012 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and was tenth in the final Nascar Camping World Truck Series driver point standings, his best NASCAR points finish to date. Just eight years ago, two important events happened in Paludo’s life: he won his first race in a Brazilian regional car tour series, and later that year was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Paludo is dedicated to diabetes advocacy, racing in Unite for Diabetes/International Diabetes Federation colors on his No. 32 truck, as well as featuring a World Diabetes Day paint scheme on his truck in November. Paludo lives in Mooresville, NC, with his wife, Patricia, and son, Oliver, who is also living with type 1 diabetes. He’s currently competing in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series.

Which diabetes organizations are you involved with these days and why?

In 2010, I paired up with the American Diabetes Association and we tried to see what I could do to as a racecar driver to create awareness. Then I got involved with children’s diabetes camps several years ago. There were about thirty children, ages three to sixteen. I ate lunch with them and we talked. It was pretty special. When children come to you and can relate, and you can help them say, “I can be whatever I want,” after meeting you, that’s pretty special. I’ll never forget that.

Last year, I was invited to work with the International Diabetes Federation in South America. I’m doing as much as I can to create awareness about diabetes. I like to compare it to when someone says [they have] cancer; there are all the steps you need to go through to get better. People say, “I’m so sorry,” but they don’t know a lot about the disease. I want people to know more about it, and it’s not the end of the world. We have a pretty big reach and network in Brazil and South America.

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What is your state of mind today about diabetes?

For me today, it’s pretty simple ­– like brushing teeth every morning, administering my shots, having my breakfast. I started using a continuous glucose monitor two months ago.

Diabetes is part of me and I have no trouble dealing with it, but I want to find a cure.

What three words would you use to describe who you are?

Focused, calm, and patient.

How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are?

I think it changes who I am because I look at life with a different perspective. I’m healthier and always thinking before I eat. Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t think about what I ate. I still can have (almost) whatever I want. It has changed me a little for the good side. I do a lot of exercise. I work out two times a week with a personal trainer. I’m training to run the New York City Marathon this fall, so I’m running three to five times a week!

As for Oliver, we take care of him and it gets easier and easier for us; we know exactly what he can have. I was able to learn about the disease for eight years before helping my son. We don’t make a big deal of it.

What’s your favorite diabetes management tip?

Take your finger test as much as you can. I test a lot, and that helps me to keep my levels in my range.

What inspires you to do what you do for a living?

I always had passion about racing as a child in Brazil, recording races on my TV. I had boxes of tapes and recorded hours of races. It was something I always liked. My brother liked racing, as well. He did it for fun in Brazil. That’s why I love it so much.

What is your favorite travel destination?

My wife and I always had a plan to go to Bora Bora, but we’ve still never been. When we were in Brazil, we came to the US for vacation, places like Miami and New York City. We love the United States. Brazil has a lot of beautiful places as well, and we’re going to Cancun soon.

What would you pack for your favorite vacation?

Insulin and all of my supplies! (Laughs.) I always have my iPod® loaded up with songs, too.

What is your favorite song right now?

Del Amitri is the band, and the song is Roll To Me.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress?

I love to hang out at home and watch TV. Lying on the couch and just relaxing, that’s the best thing. My home is where I feel safe and comfortable, and no matter what happens in a race, I go home and feel good. My wife and I have created a good environment.

What is your favorite Broadway musical of all time?

I went to the Lion King two years ago, and it was pretty cool. I heard it’s showing in Brazil now, too!

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

To be faithful and be a true person. To be loyal to you, that’s the first thing. I have a lot of friends I know, but four or five friends that I know if I call them right away they’ll help with whatever I need. We have each other’s respect. That makes the friendship last longer.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?

Orange juice, a lot of water, Gatorade1, Pedialyte2, Coke3, Diet Coke4, ham, cheese, and artichokes. I love artichokes! I probably have about four or five a week. It’s good for me, and I love them.

What is your favorite dish?

I love rice, steak, and salad. Pretty simple.

What words do you try to live by?

I’m a pretty simple guy and I try to live a simple life. I try to do this in all areas of my life.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Formula One racer Ayrton Senna da Silva (from Brazil). He died in a racing accident in 1994.

Also, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. I had a few opportunities to talk to him, and everything I believe in life, Jimmie has it.

What are you looking forward to right now?

Professionally, I’m looking forward to winning my first race in the NASCAR top series. I’m racing full-time. When you win, it allows you to be in the sport longer. I want to be here a long time; I love what I do.

In my personal life, I’m happy with what I have, we just got our house in the US and we are making it a home. I have a beautiful son and a wonderful wife.

What would you most want the Latin American community to know about life with diabetes?

I think it’s pretty much what I’m doing here. I want people to understand more and be able to help their family and friends. I want to help people know more about diabetes in general. A lot of people may be in denial, but don’t understand they can have the things they love; they don’t have to give it all up. So that’s what I’m trying to change. It takes a long time to make a little bit of progress, but you have to start.

1 Gatorade is a registered trademark of Stokely-Van Camp, Inc.

2 Pedialyte is a registered trademark of Abbott Laboratories.

Coke is a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company.

4 Diet Coke is a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company.

All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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