Diabetes on the footy field – breaking down barriers 12 May 2021 Paddy McCartin says diabetes has never stopped him from pursuing the sport he loves, he talks about what it means to have a good health team around. Paddy McCartin is fierce on the football field, as an AFL forward for St Kilda and now the Sydney Swans, but off the field Paddy has spent the last 17-years living with type 1 diabetes. It is a delicate balance between a demanding football career and managing diabetes. Thanks to a positive diabetes management plan, Paddy can play football and complete the rigorous training program of a professional athlete. “When I play football, I use the flash glucose monitoring system which allows my trainer to test my glucose levels without pricking my finger. I have a sensor that sits in an armband, my trainer can run out, scan it and check that my blood sugar levels are on track. He has lollies and carbohydrates on him at all times to manage any highs or lows.” It is a system that is working well. Paddy is encouraging others to be transparent and find support from their own community. He says it is difficult for young people at school or in the workforce to discuss their diabetes with colleagues and friends. “I see this in a lot of young kids, I found it really difficult too when I was going to AFL clubs as a kid, it was really tough to be transparent with people about my diabetes. It was a point of difference and it can be tough to manage at times. What I have learnt over the last few years is that being transparent has led to my diabetes being the best it has ever been.” “Being transparent with doctors and having a positive plan for when I have lows and highs is something I am proud of. I’m not 100% great at it all the time, I’m like any person with diabetes, I have highs and lows and I have at times struggled with it.” Paddy was diagnosed when he was eight after displaying all the classic symptoms – he had lost 10kgs, had an insatiable thirst and could not stop going to the toilet. With the support of his family and health team, Paddy has been able to manage his diabetes well. “When I was first diagnosed, I was taking four needles a day and checking my blood sugars before each mealtime. Now with the pump I can check my blood sugars on my phone, which I do about 13 times a day.” Insulin pumps are becoming increasingly popular for people managing type 1 diabetes. More than 10-percent use a pump to deliver their daily insulin requirements. “I look at kids now and even adults who are newly diagnosed, while it is still extremely difficult, the technology available is fantastic, hopefully we are not too far away from a cure.” The discovery of insulin has meant Paddy has been able to live a successful life on and off the football field. “Insulin has saved my life. The advancements in the last 17-years since I was diagnosed have been huge. Hopefully, in the future there will be a cure and if not I’m sure there will be something pretty close because the doctors and researchers are doing an amazing job.” Paddy is using his profile and experience to give back to the diabetes community. He has set up a not-for-profit group called Helping Hands to help support people with type 1 diabetes.