My 18th Diaversary

The 6th of September 1999. A normal Monday for most, but a day I’ll never forget. At the age of 8, this was the day I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

18 years on I’m writing my reflections on living with type 1 Diabetes for all that time. For one, I’m still here, so I must be doing something right! On my 18th birthday I remember going out and partying with my friends, but I’m not sure I’m too keen on throwing my Diabetes a party… However there are a few things that I will thank Diabetes for on this occasion.

It’s not an easy existence having diabetes but it certainly doesn’t have to stop you doing a lot in life and I’ve tried to make sure this is a philosophy I live by.  

Having lived with the condition for all this time I can definitely appreciate that it’s made my life harder, which to my friends and peers hasn’t always been apparent. A lot of the struggles are behind
closed doors and are unseen by many. It’s a condition which means you never switch off from it and never get a break. A 24/7 battle that most of the people you come into contact with don’t know is happening. 

However with this being an 18th diaversary, I feel like it should be a celebration rather than talking about the hardships.

So what positives has it brought to my life?  

Without doubt it’s made me mentally stronger. Overcoming a condition which tests your ability to live on a daily basis has made value the positivity in my life and made me far more resilient. Most importantly it’s made me more determined and motivated to overcome it, to compete and surpass my peers. Having something which is set up to hold you back can often be the thing that drives you forward. It has with me!

One thing I can’t ignore are the Friends I’ve made through the Diabetes Online Community (#DOC), whom I never would have met had it not been for this illness. The commonality we share in living with this condition is a bond I’ve never been able to share with anyone. Who else knows what it’s like to wake up 4 times in one week at 4:30 am because you’re struggling with your insulin dose which is leading to nocturnal hypoglycaemia? Finding and adding these people to my life has helped me accept the condition fully, which even after the previous 17 years with it, I’m not sure I’d found myself. They have helped me do that and for that I will always be grateful.  

And then there is TDFC. When I contemplate its existence and impact since creation it fills me with immense pride and happiness. I only wish I’d had the idea & the confidence to do it sooner. I’m so pleased with how it continues to develop and the projects we’ve got coming up are so exciting. Helping to support a community of people who have welcomed me with such open arms is an absolute pleasure and I’m hoping my own introduction and that of TDFC has been a positive addition which we will grow!

The last thing to say is Happy Diaversary to my Diabetes! The condition I wish I didn’t have, but have so much to thank for.

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Type 1 Diabetes: A disability or not? How do you identify with it?

This is a question which I’ve struggled to answer for a long time. Is Diabetes a Disability in my eyes? As many will already know Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is by law an “Unseen Disability” which has the ability to significantly impact the lives of the people that have it. It’s power to disrupt and harm the people that live with it, in my opinion, is underestimated by much of society. As much as I strongly believe that you’re able to overcome the condition to achieve great things, there will always be the lasting effects and scars of living with Diabetes which challenge normality. I find this a really testing subject and one which in my experience has divided views amongst the diabetic community.  

As always though, I don’t shy away from expressing my opinion on the difficult subjects. However I fear I might still be on the fence with this one.

When a law states that a condition falls into the parameters of Disability it’s hard to argue with the reasons behind that decision. When I consider my own life and its impact, there’s no doubt that despite getting used to the difficulties, the interruptions shouldn’t be overlooked.

Let’s consider some of those moments when I firmly believe this condition I live with makes it feel like a Disability.  What about when you’re woken up in the middle of the night, sweating, suffering a hypoglycaemia that causes a headache which lasts all day? Losing 2/3 hours sleep trying to correct your glucose levels in the middle of the night back into range? Or when I’m forced off the football pitch because my glucose levels are dangerously out of range? Or when it stops me from driving and holds me up for an hour and a half whilst I recover?  Or when my vision blurs and I lose some of my coordination?

Whilst these are just a few examples there’s no doubt that when any of these things occur, life can feel constrained, as Diabetes presents itself as a Disability.

I think it bores down to the potential the condition has to impact on someone’s life… Although I’ve done ok for myself in terms of my achievements, this condition has the potential to have a devastating impact on someone’s life, and in the most unfortunate circumstances it can be fatal. I think for those who are given the opportunity to maintain reasonable control of the condition it can feel like Diabetes doesn’t hold you back much, if at all, and doesn’t really reflect that “Disability” tag. However for those who may be unlucky and are unable to manage it, its unquestionable the debilitating effect it has.

If it didn’t impact on my life whatsoever I’m not sure I would’ve spent so much time hiding my Diabetes through the fear of judgement. I always wanted to merit my achievements on my ability and not my disability.  I always felt it was another hurdle to jump over, which would mean I would just need to work harder than everyone else to achieve my goals.

There’s no doubt whichever way I try to answer the question I find myself sat back on the fence on this one. It’s a condition which will never be the same for everyone and in turn will never have the same effects on someone’s life. I’ve been lucky enough to live a life where I’ve been able to keep it under control for the most part and not let it affect my outlook and approach. There are many others who aren’t as lucky as I am and I appreciate that….

If I pose myself the question again “is Diabetes a Disability to me?” I’m still not sure!!!

What do you think?

The Importance of your Support Network

Before beginning this blog post I want to dedicate it to my own support network. I’d like to give a special mention to my Mom, Dad & sister whom have had to live with Type 1 Diabetes almost as much as I have.

So I don’t think you can start talking about a support network, without saying “Thank you!”

Without the people who have been involved in managing my Diabetes with me there’s absolutely no doubt that I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy my life and my sport in the way I have.

These people are the unsung heroes of managing Diabetes. However for this blog post their impact will be celebrated!

So let’s start with probably the most pivotal people in any young Diabetic’s life, your Parents. Not only are they instrumental in understanding the condition and treatment, they will be the people who influence your mental approach to the condition, to tackle everyday life.  My Mom and Dad need to take every plaudit I write about them in this post, as without them, I really don’t think I’d have been able to put myself into the position to have ticked off the life goals I have alongside the Diabetes. They’re ordinary, down to earth people that are extraordinary to me.

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I’ll start by talking about the “normal” parenting required to support someone like me, crazy about my sport. I’m sure any parents reading this will know exactly what’s coming but it should never be overlooked. The trips to take me to football matches with my club, training sessions, school trips, round to friends to play football, buying my football boots & kit (ensuring you had the latest trend to!), paying to watch the team I supported and all of the moral support it requires to support children in sport. None of that is easy and that’s just the parenting around the sport!

But what about all the other things they didn’t expect to have to do with their child as a result of Diabetes? Those middle of the night hypo treatments, those regular prescription collections, giving me injections, checking my blood glucose levels, the continual worry of whether I would run into a hypo or hyper, the packing and preparation for any holidays or football matches, the hospital appointments, the diet and regime management, the list goes on… But despite all of that, they rarely let it impinge on my ability to do anything in life. In fact they probably made sure I tried things as much as possible to ensure I didn’t build up any fear towards the condition. They’re incredible people and what they’ve done for me over the years I won’t ever be able to adequately put into words, but thank you Mom and Dad for everything.

The physical support and attitude my parents forged in me, from their own approach to the condition is the single biggest contributing factor to anything I went and achieved as I moved from a teenager to becoming an adult. Having parents like mine, I believe, can really make the difference in the way a young diabetic approaches their condition and sport.

I also have a younger sister, who obviously didn’t help with the management of my condition or my attitude towards it but she helped in ways she probably doesn’t realise and maybe won’t, until she reads this! She’s an incredibly talented person, who I believe is naturally more intelligent than myself, which is good, because she pushed me to try harder in the things I was good at. Having that sibling rivalry in a household can be really healthy and can bring out the best in both children, who are fighting for the praise of their parents. Whilst I also have to thank her for putting up with Mom & Dad dragging her out in the cold as a child to come and watch me play. She didn’t ask for that life and she didn’t really enjoy it (it’s put her off football for life!), however by not kicking up a major fuss and allowing Mom & Dad to support me in the way they did, she has had a massive part to play in where I am now. Me and my sister have a pretty good relationship now as Adults, we talk all the time and we both support each other on our different paths in life. She lived around my Diabetes long enough to know when it’s going right or wrong instinctively and I think your siblings and parents will always be able to spot it. A huge thank you to my sister. Had she not been so understanding, I may not have had the opportunities to enhance my control with the support of my parents.

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But what about those who haven’t lived with Diabetes around them 24/7? The people that find themselves in your inner circle, but not quite as close as your family. I think your closest friends are the people that help you normalise Diabetes and often tackle those insecurities around testing, injecting and generally showing your condition to the world. I even had friends of mine who would pinch my leg so I could inject when I was much younger (in the days when you were told to pinch the injection site!), which definitely immersed them in Diabetes with me. They bring normality into my life which sometimes allows me to forget my Diabetes, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, but it’s so important to feel like you can get some rest bite from it. My friends go some way to understanding the condition, i.e knowing what to do when it goes wrong, but I’m quite glad they don’t know much more than that as their lack of understanding definitely helps me take a break from it when I’m in their company.  

As with anyone who’s ever played in a sports team, it’s important to have a coach who supports and understands you. This is even more important for a type 1 diabetic. My coach Nick was instrumental in those early years following diagnosis. Sure, he got as frustrated as I did when it let me down and affected my ability to play the game, but importantly, he understood that I wasn’t going to get it right 100% of the time but he continued to play me regardless of this fact. Yes, I’m sure it helped that I was a capable player who helped the team win trophies but my lack of consistency must’ve been difficult for any coach to watch… I can only thank him for his patience in those difficult early teenage years. I believe having a coach who can empathise in this way with your situation is so important as you learn and grow into yourself and the game throughout your adolescence. As an adult I’ve not required that level of support, but being up front with my coaches about what the condition is capable of doing to my performance is something I’ve only really talked about recently. Until this point, I concealed the true effect of Diabetes as I wanted people to judge me on my ability and not my condition. I’m sure I won’t be the only one who’s taken this approach but having a supportive coach will definitely alleviate some of this worry.

I can’t undersell the importance of a passionate healthcare professional, who just knows the right words to use when Diabetes is far from your friend. Fortunately for me the nurse that looked after me upon diagnosis and throughout my life in paediatrics was Diane Cluley. Her positive outlook for me and my life with the condition was imperative in those early years whilst adjusting to this new world. Her knowledge and empathy towards my lifestyle, condition and mindset is without doubt the biggest impact anyone from the NHS has had on me.  People within the healthcare profession can really make or break lives with their attitude towards the people they care for. Had I been supported by a nurse with a strict “textbook” attitude to Diabetes, I’m not sure where I would’ve ended up with my football.

I also wanted to mention the latest addition to my support network. The Diabetes online community (#DOC) has become a big part of my life in the last year and what a group of people they are. There’s an instantaneous connection that can’t be replicated easily with people who don’t have diabetes. The members of the #DOC understand your hardships, your middle of the night hypo concerns and the small battles you face on a daily basis. I’ve made some great friends already and with the level of support they offer I’m really not sure how I managed the condition without them! I’d advise any Diabetic to get involved in the community and speak to other peers about their Diabetes. I find sharing my experience and talking to others about theirs almost like therapy! I couldn’t recommend it highly enough!

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A diabetic’s support network can really be the difference between succeeding alongside the condition or finding it a tough existence. Luckily for me, I’ve had the most amazing parents, family and close friends who have never once made it “difficult” for me to manage it. Sure I’ve had people come and go in my life who haven’t helped or caused problems around the condition, but the “core” has always been there and without them I honestly think TDFC wouldn’t exist! Everyone needs support to grow and develop but those with Diabetes really do need it more than most to enable them to fulfil their potential in life and in sport.

The Psychology of a Diabetic Footballer

Having been involved in a number of conversations regarding the psychological support, and the need for more of it, I wanted to put my own spin on it around Football.

It’s never an easy conversation to have, within an extremely masculine setting of the changing room or a football club, but times have changed and the emphasis on mental health has never been more important.

Well where do you start with Diabetes?

I don’t think I’ll be able to cover or adequately portray the full effects of the condition on my mental well being and approach to my life and sport, but I’ll try and deliver a snapshot which I feel is most poignant to Football.

I wasn’t born with type 1 Diabetes.

You’re probably wondering why I’ve made that statement stand alone? The significance of it is because I remember life without having the condition. Until the age of 8 I wandered through life without a care in the world, blissfully unaware of what was to come. My only focus at that age was how quickly could I get home from school and get a football out!

Then in the September of 1999, I was catapulted into a world of worry and anxiety. That care free life that I lived prior to my diagnosis was a distant memory. Diabetes teaches you to worry very quickly. What if I forget my injection? What if my glucose levels go too low? What if they go too high? What happens if I play football? What happens if I eat this meal?

That extra worry is definitely a burden I’ve had to carry growing up.  I’m not sure you can properly shake it; you just learn to deal with it and adapt.

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 Just imagine what it’s like when you’ve “learnt” to worry more than usual and you’re greeted with a situation where you’re different to every other child in the changing room as you pull out your blood glucose monitor and insulin. When all you want to do as a child is “fit in”, this immediate difference can make it quite difficult. Most kids try to avoid situations like this where they feel alone or slightly outcast, but when you’re a diabetic in mainstream sport you have to just embrace it, otherwise you won’t do it. It takes guts.

Throw into that, those difficult teenage years and the “banter” of 16 boys at the age of 15 and you can only imagine how uncomfortable you can feel. Not to forget that if you’re trialling for a new team, or trying to make a step up or play for a representative side and you don’t know anyone in the dressing room. The levels of anxiety go through the roof! It’s an added stress trying to fit in, so hopefully with some of the work I’m doing with TDFC we can encourage diabetics to embrace their condition in this environment, and give those people who don’t have the condition some guidance on how to support children who may find this a barrier.

All of this worry and I haven’t even referred to trying to get glucose levels in range to be able to get out there and play.  Without them in a good place you immediately know you’re on the back foot. I don’t hide from the fact that during the warm up and team talk prior to a game I’m very rarely concerned with the tactics of the team (as I really should know them already!), as I concentrate all of my efforts on making sure the body is loose and the glucose levels are in a good place to play! Again it adds more pressure and anxiety to your preparation but when you’ve learnt to deal with that the playing part is a breeze!

This anxiety about getting levels right leads me very nicely into the frustration and anger it generates when it does go wrong.  I will not be the only one that has experienced their glucose levels going wrong in the moments when you need them to be stable the most.  I remember vividly my levels “playing up” when I had trials at pro clubs and in cup finals. Emotions always run high and invariably cause you a problem which no planning can foresee! However it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow when you’re out there struggling to perform when you know what you’re capable of. My parents and coach of my junior team felt this frustration for a long time, as they watched my ability succumb to the diabetes and it often left me infuriated.  Sometimes it’s out of your control and the best way to respond is to chalk it off and go again next week. You’ll learn from what happened and try and put it right next time. It never makes the anger and frustration easier to accept, it just means you don’t give up because of it.

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But what about the fear of Hypos? A topic often referred to when Diabetics refer to exercise. Anyone who’s experienced a mild Hypo (when you’ve been able to treat yourself) knows that it can be a pretty nasty feeling and pretty scary, but what about the people who have experienced one which they couldn’t treat themselves? The courage and bravery it can take to then put yourself in a situation with exercise, where they’re more likely to occur, is huge. I’ve only suffered one severe hypo like this in my lifetime and can only describe it as one of the most frightening things I’ve been put through. I think the fact I was only 13 at the time helped me respond to it. As a child you’re pretty fearless so I didn’t build up too much of a mental barrier to hypos despite experiencing that. Regardless of how I dealt with that I know situations where others have really struggled to come back from it and it can be a significant barrier I want TDFC to address. I want to ensure that no diabetic feels unable to participate in Football as a result of fearing hypos. The organisation will be campaigning hard to improve the support in Football for diabetic participants as well as the people who deliver the game that need greater awareness of the condition.

With all of the negatives it CAN have….. There is one really really big psychological benefit that I believe it’s given me. I carry Diabetes around as the “chip on my shoulder” and the one thing that makes me work harder, more determined and more passionate about defying the odds of living with a chronic medical condition. I’ve been let down by it from time to time but for the most part I honestly believe Diabetes helped me find my strength. I used it to power my motivation and to achieve my goals. It made me who I am as a person and my achievements can be attributed to the resilience it added to my character. I’ve never let it stop me and nor will I let it in the future.

I have a favourite quote which I often refer to which I think reflects the way I feel about its affect on me and my sport.

“The best view comes after the hardest climb”

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When you achieve the goals you’ve set yourself, knowing all of the difficulties and setbacks you’ve gone through to get there as a result of your Diabetes, the appreciation of that peak is that much greater.

As much as I believe Diabetes has had its negative impact on my psychological welfare, there’s no doubt I’ve used it positively to power my motivation and strength. Diabetes drives my determination to defy all of the physiological effects it can have, to compete and surpass my peers who don’t have the condition.

I firmly believe that “we cannot change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play the hand.” I’ve learnt to play mine the best way I can.

My First Game after Diagnosis

I’ve seen and read a number of inspiring and emotional accounts of those difficult moments which follow the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Your life is flipped upside down, forever.  The life you led before is now a distant memory and a lifetime of injections and constant concern for your own wellbeing is now the norm.

However for anyone who knows me well the following sentence won’t come as a surprise.

I was diagnosed on a Monday afternoon at 8 years old and on the Friday evening of that same week I was back out on the pitch playing again.

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It epitomises everything about my approach since my diagnosis. I didn’t let it stand in my way in week 1 of being a diabetic and I haven’t let it stop me in any other week since!

Despite this attitude that I adopted very early on, there’s no doubt that it tests your resolve both mentally and physically. Never more so than in that first game post diagnosis.

I remember that game really well. After a 3 night stay in hospital I had one day at home before a Friday night friendly for my club Kingfisher Colts. I remember thinking to myself there’s no way on this planet I’m not playing. It took a lot of persuasion over those 24 hours to convince both my diabetes nurse and parents that this was the right thing to do, but in my mind there was no question that I was getting out on the pitch.

In 1999, the treatment methods weren’t quite what they are today. I was placed on 2 injections a day, which can cause you to lead a more rigid lifestyle as well as a more difficult one around sport. But this was diabetes care in the late nineties, so I just got on with it and lived like this for 4/5 years. For this first game we were really just guessing and hoping everything would go well!

As you can imagine, that Friday was full of emotion. I honestly didn’t know how to feel. I was an 8 year old who had just found out that he had to live the rest of his life on daily injections. I was drained physically and emotionally. However, the overriding feeling I felt as I left for the game was one of defiance. No matter how the condition was going to test me over the rest of my life, I knew in that moment I wasn’t going to give up, or stop playing football regardless of the trials and tribulations I faced.

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As I arrived at the game with my Mom and Dad there was tension in the air. We were all stepping into the unknown and despite my defiance; I was frightened, anxious and scared. “Would my team mates look at me differently? Would they treat me differently? Would I be as good as I was before? Am I going to collapse whilst I’m running around? Can I still do this?” These were the questions I was posing to myself as I met the squad and my manager out on the pitch.

I think through the fear of the unknown and the prior planning to the game, I avoided doing the warm up that day. As a family, and with my coach’s input, we had agreed that I should come off the bench for the last 20 minutes of the game. The only problem with this plan was that I had 40 minutes to stew and worry about going onto the pitch. Watching on was torturous, knowing that usually I would start the game. This was alien to me but I understood that the world was different now. I just wanted to prove more than anything that I could still do it.

As the game reached half time, and as we had become accustomed to, my team were winning comfortably. I played for one of the most successful kid’s teams at my age group in the south Birmingham area so this was absolutely no surprise and it took the pressure off my performance, as the boys were already doing the job. This didn’t stop me feeling really nervous, as the moment I was expecting to come on was creeping up on me quickly.

My Dad tested my blood glucose levels and they were in range, so I began to warm up. The normal excitement and nerves for a game came rushing back. We were 3-0 up and surely this was going to be business as usual? I was feeling pumped up and those feelings and thoughts of defiance were right at the forefront of my mind. I ran up and down for a few minutes, stretched off & got a couple of touches of the ball. I was ready.

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Nick Reddish (My Coach, whom I owe a lot to!), called for the substitution and there I was stood on the touchline waiting to shake my teammates hand as I replaced him. I can’t even imagine what my Mom and Dad were feeling watching, I was emotional enough as it was. Then it happened, I ran onto the pitch and the euphoria of being able to play again after the most frightening week of my short 8 years hit me. I ran into my position and nearly broke down as it meant that much to be back out there. I didn’t. Instead I quickly forgot the emotions and why it meant so much and got down to playing. In reality the 20 minutes I was involved in were never going to be that meaningful as it was a friendly and we were already 3-0 up, but it took on another meaning to me which no one else could see or feel.

After all of the build up, I played 20 minutes of football where nothing much happened and we saw the game out comfortably. Most importantly for me, that first experience back out on the pitch went without a hiccup and I took a lot of confidence from that. Obviously many hiccups followed in the future as we got to grips with controlling my blood glucose levels around my football, but after that scary first week there was a ray of light at the end of it. It didn’t stop me. I didn’t collapse. I didn’t play badly.

The emotional and psychological build up for this match was incredibly draining, far more so than the actual playing itself. As a family we built on that game, one day at a time and one game at a time, to learn and improve my control to the point where it rarely impacted my performance.

I strongly believe that more needs to be done to support people who live with chronic conditions such as Diabetes in mainstream sport but this is a discussion for another post….

For me this was the first day of my defiance, which I’ve followed with another 17 years of that same defiance. Diabetes will never make it easy but if you want it badly enough you’ll find a way of making it work for you.

“Never stop playing because it’s tough, stop playing when your legs give up!”

 

Thank you for reading this post. I found it extremely difficult to write as it took me back to some difficult memories that I haven’t visited for a long time.

The Highs and Lows of Football

Disclaimer – This blog post is my own opinion and from my personal experience. No advice or guidance from this post should be considered without the support of your healthcare professional.

When people look at the title of this post and relate it to Football, they’ll immediately think it’s going to be about the emotions, triumphs and heartbreaking moments you get whilst being involved in this sport.

I’ve been through winning league titles, losing in cup finals, last minute goals, winning games as an underdog and they all help to create the magic that makes football the most entertaining sport in the world (in my opinion!). But this post isn’t about those moments! It’s about the way the body feels when playing with high and low blood sugar levels.

For me, playing with blood glucose levels at either end of the spectrum is an absolute nightmare. They pose different challenges with neither being conducive of playing to the best of my ability. I think before I talk about it any further, I should really point out that I don’t think any healthcare professional would allow me to play football in some of the states I’ve been in when going out onto the pitch. They’re rare occasions but I certainly wouldn’t recommend some of the approaches I’ve used in the past. HOWEVER, this is reality and I certainly haven’t lived my life from the healthcare professional textbook.  I’ve adapted my treatments to the situations I’ve been in, to ensure that I can continue to do the things I enjoy doing, knowing I’m not going to let Diabetes stop me.

But what does it feel like to play with high or low blood glucose levels? Pretty horrible to be honest but I’ll try and describe how both feel to me.

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With a low blood glucose level it feels to me like someone hit the zoom out button. The ball looks smaller, the mental cognition to control the ball isn’t as easy and processing your surroundings, your next pass or touch becomes extremely difficult. These are just the mental effects! This is without the shaking, feeling of fatigue, indescribably weird sensation of hunger and general feeling of lethargy. None of these feelings are likely to support a top quality performance, however I’ve found my recovery from hypo to normal, to be faster and easier to achieve than from a hyper (+14mmols).  I wouldn’t recommend it, but there’s been quite a few times in the past where I’ve played through this feeling and had my Dad throw on a packet of dextrose tablets for me to devour over the course of 15 minutes. Reading this, you’re probably thinking why don’t I just get substituted off? The answer is because as a competitor I want to keep playing and often feel capable enough to deal with the hypo, continue to play my game and try to help the team win the match. There have been a few occasions though where it’s got the better of me and I’ve requested to be brought off, but that will have been after a serious attempt at treating the hypo to try and prevent the inevitable substitution. Healthcare professionals won’t ever recommend this approach but whilst I felt in control enough of the hypo symptoms and the game I was playing, I felt I could treat it and continue. After all this is reality and not from a textbook!

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In contrast, the feeling of hyperglycaemia and levels running too high is twice as bad and far more difficult to shake in my opinion. I often liken the feeling to walking in water. Metaphorically I think it represents the struggle perfectly. Just like walking in water you’re trying to move in a direction and make progress, with something you can’t control holding you back and slowing you down. Hyperglycaemia really saps the energy from my legs and it feels like I lose at least a yard of pace in the game. As a result of this I think it’s more noticeable in more performance. I will try to avoid hyperglycaemia at all costs on match day as I think it is a greater risk to my ability to perform than hypoglycaemia, as the effects for me last longer. Unlike with a hypoglycaemia I never sought a substitution when suffering with this extreme. With football renowned for often dropping levels, I expected the exercise to resolve it but my performance suffered and frustration levels increased whilst awaiting this! The reality is that both hyper and hypo levels have a knock-on effect on my performance but vary in the length of time and physical impact that they have.

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Summing it up perfectly is my Dad who’s normally watching this all unfold. More often than not, following a hypo, the post game debrief with my Dad usually contains the words “You would never have known.”  Whereas if I experienced a hyper I’m likely to expect “You could tell in the way you played.” In his own way my Dad summarises which extreme of blood glucose level is more difficult to produce a performance which reflects my ability.

Of course much of my playing career has gone without experiencing these hiccups. However I feel it’s important we talk about the times when it does go wrong so the players, spectators, coaches and referees can try to understand how it feels to try and tackle the extremes of type 1 diabetes whilst playing football.  I’ve never looked for excuses for a bad performance, regardless of whether my glucose levels have behaved or not. It’s not my style but as someone who’s never had the use of an insulin pump or CGM to play a game, I’m hoping people will understand how important it is to be in the correct range for your football and for your health as well as how difficult it can be to achieve this.

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