A Canadian Olympic rower and marathon runner, Chris, age 27, exhibits the endurance of most elite athletes. However, few would know that for nearly 14 years he has lived and struggled with type 1 diabetes. While on a scholarship at Northeastern University in Boston, he missed a rowing workout because of his diabetes. His coach indicated that he would not make the varsity team because of the diabetes complications he experienced. Determined to prove his coach wrong, Chris fought back and earned his seat on the varsity boat, eventually being voted team captain his senior year.
As Chris’s dedication and commitment to rowing grew, so did his need to tightly control his blood sugar, and to keep it from getting too high or low. When Chris competed in the 2004 Olympics as part of the Canadian national rowing team, he tested his blood sugar by taking as many as 20 fingersticks a day. Though Chris realised this type of constant monitoring was necessary to keep close tabs on his glucose levels, it was difficult to fit into his ever-demanding training regimen.
Now, Chris no longer must follow this schedule because he’s started using an insulin pump integrated with continuous glucose monitoring. This new system displays updated glucose values every 5 minutes, and is designed to sound an alarm if glucose levels get too high or low. People like Chris can now take immediate action with their insulin pump before glycaemic fluctuations lead to an emergency.
Chris explains, “It’s just a quick touch of a button and you see where your blood sugar is and all the extra information that comes along with it.” Now, armed with more information about his glucose levels, Chris is able to better control his diabetes. “It gives you a real sense of confidence knowing exactly what’s happening inside of your body rather than trying to guess with instantaneous blood checks,” Chris says.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.