Sam is a professional AFL player and has recently become a father for the first time. Football seems to have been passed down through the family as Sam’s dad played and coached football across Australia. For Sam, this exposure meant he was always around the game and whenever he got the chance, he would follow his dad around on game days and training sessions. Eventually, he was drafted into AFL’s Western Bulldogs team and a few years into his career, a type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis followed.
To find out more, we spoke to Sam about his journey with diabetes, from finger pricking to Dexcom G5 Mobile Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), and everything from competing on the field to becoming a father and living with diabetes day-to-day.
Q: Can you tell us a little about you?
Growing up, my family travelled a lot as my old man, Jeff, was playing and later on, coaching football across Australia. I used to follow him around everywhere. When I was about 14 years old, I became obsessed with the idea of playing professional football. I would train with everyone and then stay out on the track for hours after everyone had left. It’s all I wanted to do. When I was 17 and we were living on the Sunshine Coast (QLD), I would travel to Brisbane three times a week to train and compete.
Eventually, in 2007 I got drafted to the Western Bulldogs. After this, I moved to Melbourne to play professionally and live out my dream.
In 2009, I had to get surgery on my groin and shortly after this, I was diagnosed with T1D. I didn’t let this stop me, but I knew I just had to adjust to finger pricking to test my blood glucose levels before doing anything. I didn’t know CGM technology was around at that time.
Q: How did you find out about CGM?
I met a lot of people living with T1D and just about every person I met, would ask me if I had a CGM. So naturally, I did some research and spoke to more people about what they were using and I tried to figure out what would suit me, with training loads and how much activity I do. That’s when I came across Dexcom and I decided it was the best one for what I need. I loved the fact that my family can track my levels and get alerts!
Q: And how do you manage your diabetes now? Does it differ when competing, training and at home?
I still manage my diabetes with multiple daily injections (MDI), I’ve never worn a pump.
I also use Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM to monitor my levels. I like the size of it and the technology that comes along with it. It’s amazing. I love that it sends notifications to my wife and family that enable them to also keep track of what my levels are doing.
Depending on what I’m doing, for example if I have a game, main session, pre-season session or am at home, I need to monitor my diabetes differently. I’ve found that the type of exercise I do affects my diabetes differently. For me, I mainly change the insulin intake at breakfast and depending on how big my afternoon session is, my lunch as well.
Q: How has Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM helped you?
Early on I would test my levels every time I came off the ground, now I simply have to check at halftime and that’s it. I also get a lot of peace of mind from Dexcom G5 Mobile as I don’t have to check my sugars before running out onto the ground, going to bed at night or walking the dog – it’s just so easy.
It also helps with the day-to-day. Recently, I remember being woken up to an alert – I was going low. Because of the alert I caught it before my levels dropped too low. It woke me up and I was able to level myself out. With Dexcom, I’m also able to put my baby boy to sleep without my sugars dropping and the alarm going off and waking him up. Around that time and in the lead up, Dexcom lets me be extra particular in what I do.
Q: What other features of Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM do you like?
The Follow App makes Dexcom an attractive option to me, as it gives me and my family peace of mind with everything I do. I have never let diabetes get in the way of anything I wanted to do or achieve, but now with the help of Dexcom, I can do it with less stress.
I also like using Dexcom CLARITY, as I can check what my averages have been over a certain amount of time (Estimated A1C*). It also gives me a ‘time in range’ indicator which allows me to know how my sugars are doing during different types of exercise.
Q: What advice would you give to others looking into CGM?
I would say read and learn about your options. If you are able to, the technology is amazing – how simple they make your life is incredible.
Q: And why did you choose AMSL Diabetes?
Initially, I just wanted to get involved where I could after seeing AMSL Diabetes at some JDRF events in NSW. But after chatting to the team at AMSL Diabetes, it has turned into so much more. I love working with AMSL Diabetes and cannot wait to get our little projects up and running in the future.
Editor note: Sam wanted to share his story to emphasise that T1D doesn’t need to hold you back from accomplishing your dreams. Sam debuted in professional AFL for the Western Bulldogs in 2007, and since then, he has gone from competing on the field to fatherhood. Whether playing AFL or just at home, Sam uses the Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM to support him, so he can be the best he can be.
Always read the label and use only as directed. Read the warnings available on www.amsldiabetes.com.au/resources before purchasing. Consult your healthcare professional to see which product is right for you.
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“I came across Dexcom and I decided it was the best one for what I need. I loved the fact that my family can track my levels and get alerts!”
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