How I Simplify - Endurance Swimming
When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 2006, I was absolutely determined to never let type 1 prevent me from doing anything that I set my mind to. This hasn’t changed over my 15 years of living with type 1. If anything, the desire to break down any barriers type 1 poses has only grown stronger.
In 2019, I set out to complete my first ever Rottnest Channel Swim Crossing in a team of four. This would involve me swimming roughly 5kms of 19.7kms between Cottesloe Beach, and Rottnest Island. At the time, I was using a conventional tubed insulin pump to manage my type 1. This created some issues for me as I had to continually disconnect, and reconnect the pump every time I entered the water to complete a stint of swimming. It also meant I was without any insulin delivery for long periods of time when I was swimming, which made controlling my sugar levels both during and after the race highly difficult.
Midway through 2020, I decided that after successfully completing two Rottnest Swim’s in a team of four, I wanted to up the difficulty and complete the swim in a duo. This significantly raised the bar in terms of the challenges I would face to keep my blood sugar levels stable throughout the race, as I would be spending longer in the water, and swimming double the distance. Thankfully, in December 2020, just when my training was starting to increase in intensity, my parents and I alongside my healthcare team made the decision to start using Omnipod®.
We had heard incredible things about Omnipod®, which has been used in the United States for several years. It sounded perfect for me, complimentary to my active lifestyle. Any transition onto a new form of type 1 treatment was bound to be challenging, regardless of extenuating circumstances. In true ‘me’ fashion, I thought I would put Omnipod® to the ultimate test – subjecting it to regular swimming and other fitness training, and eventually, the Rottnest Swim.
I find the phrase “life changing” gets thrown around a lot, and can sometimes be perceived as an over exaggeration. There is no exaggeration on my part though, when I say Omnipod® has proven life changing ever since I made the switch. One of the most frustrating parts about the conventional pumps I was using in the past, was that they were generally only ‘water resistant’, and proved cumbersome to deal with whilst swimming, to the point where I never attempted swam with my pump on. Omnipod®’s waterproof* feature has been, in my view, its most valuable attribute. Now, whether I am off to training, or just heading to the beach with some friends, I can take comfort that I am still receiving insulin, despite being in the water. This has helped me avoid delayed onset hyperglycaemia, which can be very difficult to remedy at times. At the peak of my training for the Rottnest Swim duo, I was swimming at least four times a week, often for extended periods of time. The peace of mind I felt wearing Omnipod® cannot be understated. It was a massive relief knowing that when I got out the water, I wouldn’t be playing catch up for hours after, or experiencing the nausea that is common after protracted periods of hyperglycaemia.
By the time race day came around, I was confident in Omnipod®’s waterproof technology, and its ability to help keep my levels under control for the duration of the race. The race was not all smooth sailing – I had to combat illness at 4kms in, which left me in a position where I was unable to eat for the majority of the swim, along with difficult weather conditions that considerably worsened throughout the course of the day. Despite all this, I sat within range throughout the majority of the day, and after the race, an experience I didn’t have in my previous two crossings. I found for me this was simplified by using Omnipod® as well as my continuous glucose monitoring system**. Having completed the swim again this year in a team, I can safely say that it was no fluke – once again, Omnipod® excelled, and significantly reduced my stress levels throughout the day.
Omnipod® has been a revelation for me. Beyond swimming, it has proven invaluable in all aspects of my life, making my management of type 1 substantially less complicated. It has enabled me to continue to live by that philosophy of never letting my type one stop me from doing anything that I set my mind to. Having used Omnipod® now for just over a year, I can safely say that I can never imagine myself going back onto conventional insulin pumps. The freedom and flexibility Omnipod® offers is, simply put, just too good.