Professional rugby player, Chris Pennell, was 19 years old when he was diagnosed with diabetes. At the time, he was understandably worried about how it might affect his career. “In my second year as a professional I had a pre-season blood test that showed my blood glucose was abnormally high,” he says. “After further tests, the club doctor confirmed that I had type 1 diabetes.

Luckily, I had a very reassuring conversation with him, which put my mind at ease. He stressed that it wouldn't stop me from doing what I wanted to do — which was to continue to be a professional rugby player.”

 

Pricking my finger up to 20 times a day

 

Even so, Chris — a fullback with Premiership team, Worcester Warriors — knew he would have to manage his diabetes properly. That meant injecting with insulin and regularly checking his glucose levels with fingerprick tests.

“Early on, I was pricking holes in my fingers 10 to 20 times a day,” he remembers. “The frustrating thing about finger prick testing is that it only tells you what your level is at that particular time. It doesn't give you an indication of what it was, or where it might be going.”

 

Checking blood glucose levels with my phone

 

"The monitor had a big impact on me, so for people who don't have my level of control, it will change their world."

Now, however, Chris has a flash glucose monitor which, he says, “changed my life in a short period of time.” Essentially, a sensor is implanted in the back of his arm which he scans with either his phone or a reader to check his level. He replaces the sensor himself every two weeks. “Flash monitoring allows me to test more regularly and see where my level could be heading,” he says. “It's made a huge difference to me.”

 

The monitor alerted me to my night time hypoglycemia

 

For example, Chris has always taken pride in his diabetes management and was under the impression that his control was excellent. “I used to take a finger prick test before I went to sleep and another when I woke up, and the numbers were always fine, so I assumed my glucose levels were normal during the night,” he says. “But when I hooked up to a flash system it showed I was actually dropping into hypoglycemia two or three times while I was asleep. Had it not been for the monitor, I'd never have known about it.” Chris has now been able to make positive and proactive changes to his management regime to stop his night-time hypos.

 

This tech has been revolutionary for me

 

“I'm fortunate,” he says. “I have excellent diabetes control — yet the monitor had a big impact on me. So, for people who don't have my level of control, it will change their world.

Can you imagine the peace of mind it would give to a parent who can check their child's levels throughout the night by simply going into their room and scanning the back of their arm while they're asleep? As technology, it's been beyond beneficial.”