Whilst working towards becoming a pilot, Jack was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in February 2020. We spoke to Jack about his recent diagnosis, how he manages his glucose levels now and his endless love of flying! Keep reading to discover more about Jack’s journey.
Q. Have you always wanted to be a pilot?
Absolutely, it’s been a dream since I was very little hearing Concorde fly over my home. Ultimately, I ended up pursuing my other dream of racing cars before eventually heading to flight school in 2019. Pilot training is quite intense. There is a mass of theory exams, of course, for each of the different licenses and ratings as you work towards airline minimums. The practical side of the training is over 200 hours of flying in a range of different aircrafts too, so it’s a big commitment.
Q. When not flying, what are some of your other hobbies?
I live a very busy lifestyle; running my businesses in New Zealand, and training to be as fit as possible. And growing up, I also used to race V8 cars – something I’m very passionate about!
Q: And when did type 1 diabetes enter your life?
LADA type 1 diabetes was found at my Commercial Pilot Medical Renewal in February 2020, and from this diagnosis, I lost my medical certification to fly. Initially, I was controlling my glucose levels strictly with diet and rigorous training regimes. I recently started on insulin (pens), with the goal of getting better control of my levels and ultimately being able to keep my medical check. Before I can take flight once more, I need to show history of my diabetes control.
Q. How do you manage your glucose levels?
I use Dexcom G6 CGM. It was so easy to get started – I’ve honestly had a harder time using most online shops than learning how to set up my Dexcom system for the first time. From the moment the package arrived to getting my first glucose reading was within a couple of hours!
For me, the Dexcom data is critical for risk management in aviation, and Dexcom G6 is a must have to minimise risk when flying. It’s actually a condition of the medical check!
Q. Why do you like using Dexcom G6 CGM?
My favourite features are having to do no fingerpricks* and receiving the alerts and notifications. I could never have imagined the Dexcom G6 system being as helpful as it has been. Coming from an aviation mindset consisting of detailed planning, monitoring, and adjusting to the situations as it happens, this tool has made the transition to being on insulin so, so easy for me. Being able to see the effect of certain foods in real time and knowing more about what will happen as it happens has allowed me to increase my meal intake, gain weight and increase my performance training – not to mention, an overall improvement in my quality of life.
Without Dexcom G6, my dream of flying would be cemented to the ground!
Q: What advice would you give to someone just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? What tips have you picked up along the way?
I think life’s 10% what happens to you, 90% how you react to it. It’s no one’s fault we have this condition, it’s just really bad luck. Reality is, whilst it sucks, we are so lucky to have so much technology nowadays that makes diabetes not as big a deal.
Personally, sometimes it feels like type 1 diabetes has robbed me of my dream of a career in aviation, which was something I found difficult to navigate initially. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have a super supportive partner with me at the time – throughout all the appointments, sleepless nights, and waiting rooms – to lean on.
Lean on your loved ones throughout it all. It’s okay to hurt a bit and let it out occasionally. But always try focus on the best way you can respond, because unlike the diagnosis, how you react will always be in your control.
Editor note: Ever since Jack was little, he wanted to be a pilot. Jack’s recent transition to insulin was made easier with Dexcom G6 CGM, as he could see how his glucose levels would react to certain foods in real-time, allowing him to train even harder as well. Day by day, Jack is continuing to pursue his dream of flying, proving that type 1 diabetes does not need to hold you back from soaring to your goals!
Wanting to share your personal journey? Join our AMSL Diabetes All Star Program and claim your exclusive AMSL Diabetes All Star kit today at product.amsl.com.au/all-star-program.
Always read the label and use only as directed. Read the warnings available on amsldiabetes.com.au/resources before purchasing. Consult your healthcare professional to see which product is right for you.
*If your glucose alerts and readings from the G6 do not match symptoms or expectations, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions.
“I could never have imagined the Dexcom G6 system being as helpful as it has been. Coming from an aviation mindset consisting of detailed planning, monitoring, and adjusting to the situations as it happens, this tool has made the transition to being on insulin so, so easy for me”
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