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Managing Diabetes 2019

How fitness and technology is changing diabetes

Eoghan Quinn

Global Wind Lead, New Energy for Worley

Lots of challenges come with a diabetes diagnosis, especially if that diagnosis comes at a young age, but new technological advancements are empowering those with diabetes.

When Eoghan Quinn was just four years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The dash to the hospital became one of his first memories. “I remember the look on my mother’s face, the term, ‘diabetic’ was something completely foreign to us and a steep learning curve awaited,” he says.

It was a diagnosis that was to change how he lived his life, from concentrating in class to sleepovers at friends’ houses. “I can see it must have been incredibly challenging for my parents to put their trust in a youngster when it came to monitoring blood glucose levels.”

Frustrations with the blood glucose monitoring kit

Eoghan had always been diligent as a young child, and found that sport was a great way to burn off energy, reducing the amount of insulin needed. In 2008, Eoghan took on a challenge to cycle from Ireland to Gaza, a gruelling 6,000 km in 40 days. The environment was so extreme that he had used all of his blood glucose measuring strips within a the first half of the challenge. It was these sorts of frustrations with his kit that led Eoghan to embrace the technology advancements that were on the market, which could ultimately empower him to take on new challenges with confidence.

He says: “I’ve always believed that we must embrace it, and so I was quick to get an insulin pump when it was made available. But I like a challenge, and I think it sets an example to other people with diabetes that there are no boundaries to this condition. There may never be a cure for Type 1 diabetes, but I believe we will be able to manage it.”

New technology

It was while living in Australia that Eoghan came across a new technology that promised to continuously measure his blood glucose levels and worked via a simple scan, even when wet or through clothing.

There may never be a cure for Type 1 diabetes, but I believe we will be able to manage it.

blood glucose levels, blood glucose monitoring, blood glucose measuring strips

I could check my blood glucose levels out there on the water, out on a run or while in a work meeting.

Eoghan says: “It was life changing for me, suddenly I could go kitesurfing for hours and not worry about getting back to the shore. With a waterproof phone I could check my blood glucose levels right then and there on the water.”

He was delighted when a move to Scotland meant that he was now eligible to receive the technology on the NHS.

He says: “It allowed me to plan bigger and better challenges to raise awareness of diabetes. Earlier this summer, I attempted to kitesurf from France to Ireland. But it was the weather, not my medical condition, that stopped me from completing the journey.”

No state funding for this life-changing tech

The only thing that worries Eoghan is a potential move back to Ireland where the technology is only offered privately.

He says: “I had hoped that the complications of diabetes – such as surgery and care – would encourage governments to look at prevention first, but the technology isn’t yet available in Ireland and that surprises me. After all, we need to show everyone, especially children, that with good monitoring diabetes shouldn’t stop us from doing anything.”

Flash glucose monitoring has helped Eoghan to reach the peak of fitness, and also track trends to see just why his blood glucose levels may be high or low. With his blood glucose monitoring now made easy, the 31-year old will soon be planning his next adventure.

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