At nine years old, William Bridgeman developed a passion for soccer. He started playing more often and joined club and travel teams. But around that same time, Bridgeman also received news that changed his life—he was diagnosed with type one diabetes.
“I was sick for about a week before I got diagnosed,” said Bridgeman. “I visited my pediatrician three or four times, because my parents just knew something was off. They thought it was just some sort of stomach bug or maybe the flu. I was in pretty bad shape and finally they decided to test my blood sugar.”
Bridgeman’s blood sugar level was between 1,000 and 1,500. A normal human blood sugar range is between 90 and 120. Despite the diagnosis, Bridgeman says it was his doctors at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health who helped him continue living the way any normal nine-year-old boy would.
“A lot of times when people get diagnosed they get really down and think that this is going to limit them,” said Bridgeman, “but for me it never really felt like that.”
One of those doctors was Todd Nebesio, MD, FAAP who was completing a fellowship through Indiana University School of Medicine at the time. Dr. Nebesio is now an IU School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics faculty member, and Bridgeman says he inspired him to go to medical school in hopes of becoming a pediatric endocrinologist.
“He played soccer in college, was a doctor and was also a diabetic,” said Bridgeman. “I wanted to be like him and eventually become a pediatric endocrinologist so I can help other kids with diabetes.”
Like Dr. Nebesio, Bridgeman got involved at a summer camp for kids with diabetes. Dr. Nebesio serves on medical staff at the camp, and Bridgeman has been attending every summer since his diagnosis, eventually becoming part of the volunteer medical staff.
“I volunteered on the dietary staff for two years, then once I turned 18, I was allowed to be volunteer medical staff,” said Bridgeman, “because every cabin has a medical staff to help take care of diabetic campers.”
Also like Dr. Nebesio, Bridgeman went on to play soccer in college. Originally from Columbus, he completed his undergraduate work at Hanover College in southern Indiana. This fall, he begins his first year as a medical student at IU School of Medicine.
“I know a lot of doctors in Columbus that all went to IU School of Medicine,” said Bridgeman, “and they’re all very smart and very good doctors, so I’ve always had a lot of respect for the program and known it’s a top tier medical school.”
While Bridgeman has always dreamed of becoming a pediatric endocrinologist, he says he is still excited to learn about all areas medicine.
“This is what I’d like to do and this is what I have my eye on,” said Bridgeman, “but if something else comes up and I fall in love with it, I’m not going to say, ‘oh, well I really like that, but I can’t do it, because I’ve always wanted this.’ I’m going to remain open to another specialty or field if I really like it. I’m just excited to get started and start learning the things I need to know to start moving along the path.”