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Shayne McVittie, 29, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 27 years ago. During this time, he has experienced several severe hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes including four seizures. Working in financial sales, Shayne is often on the road or meeting with clients. He’s also a lifelong athlete who stays active through cycling, and playing hockey and golf. He shares how he has dealt with these dangerous situations.

What has been your experience with severe hypoglycemia, and what has it taught you?

I’ve experienced several hypoglycemic episodes and unexpected lows. It’s happened at school, during hockey, and at work. Luckily, I’m normally prepared, and people are supportive and helpful. There have also been times where I haven’t been prepared, which can be scary.

Those lows teach you that you need to have a plan. I try to always have glucose tablets on hand whether it’s in my hockey bag, cycling jersey, or the car.

If I’m travelling or doing activities over a long period of time like golfing, I try to plan for how long I’ll be away, and what and when I’ll be eating.

I’ve also added a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to my care plan which has made a huge difference! I can monitor my glucose [blood sugar] instantly and see where it’s trending.

Do you have a rescue plan? What does it include?

I always plan ahead to avoid situations where I have no help. At home and when travelling, I always have glucagon on hand. I ensure those around me know that I’m a type 1, what that means, and what to watch for. Having glucagon handy is great, but those with you also need to know how to use it. If you’re receiving glucagon, you’re likely not in any position to explain how it’s used. Other key elements of a rescue plan include carrying glucose tablets, or other forms of fast-acting sugar and letting those around you know what to do in the event of an emergency.

How has being so active impacted your management?

Being active forces you to focus on what goes into your body, and how it affects your blood sugar. You cannot perform your best when you’re dealing with high or low blood sugar. Playing sports with high blood sugar feels horrible, and when I’m having a severe low I take myself out of the game.

What would you tell Canadians living with diabetes about being prepared for a severe hypoglycemic episode?

Preparation is key. When you live with type 1 diabetes hypoglycemic events* will happen. Being prepared for those lows will avoid putting you and those around you in a scary position. Diabetes can be challenging, but it should never hold you back. It’s manageable and just requires attention to detail. Building a rescue plan is a great way to stay on top of your diabetes. You can make or update your plan by visiting I know I will.

*People with type 2 diabetes who are on medications that can lower their blood sugar are also at risk.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the sponsor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Diabetes Canada.

Author: Eli Lilly Canada

Category Tags: Healthy Living;

Region: National

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