Diabetes Show and Tell: Matt Kearney

Diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of 12, Matt Kearney managed his diabetes with multiple daily injections (MDI) until 2006, when he landed himself in physical therapy rehab after a bad off-road motorcycle accident. It was during this time Matt assessed his health, and decided to start managing his diabetes with a MiniMed insulin pump. When he isn’t working as a firefighter and paramedic for a small city in Southern California, Matt continues to enjoy off-road motorcycle racing and backpacking. Also, he recently competed in a 500-mile bike ride and hiked the John Muir Trial, a 220 mile trail across the Sierra Nevada Mountain, with his wife. Although Matt can be a little shy when telling people about his diabetes, he’s touched the lives of many individuals beyond just responding to their emergency call.

Q. What diabetes items do you typically carry in your bag?

A. Since the day of my diagnosis, I’ve carried a backpack with me everywhere. In my backpack, I carry four or five Gatorades, four or five Cliff Bars, two powder Gatorade packets, three MiniMed Silhouette infusion sets, 2 ml insulin reservoir, 10 insulin syringes, a handful of alcohol swabs, and AAA batteries. With my job, there may be times when we’re called and don’t return to the quarters for several hours, or even days, so I’m always prepared with five days of diabetes supplies and enough carbohydrates to last me one to three days.

Q. What is your favorite awkward diabetes moment?

A. One of my favorite awkward diabetes moments was when I started in the fire service as a volunteer firefighter. About two months into volunteering, one of the firefighters came up to me after we were done with our training session that day, and asked me why I always carried my iPod on my belt with me. It gave me an opportunity to teach him about insulin pumps and diabetes. I explained how the pump worked, giving him the ins and outs of diabetes, as well as what to do when people with diabetes are experiencing a low or high blood sugar.

Q. Tell us about the most memorable time explaining your diabetes to a new friend, significant other, or colleague.

A. Working as a firefighter paramedic, we unfortunately attend many calls to help someone experiencing hypoglycemia. After we treat them and they become more conscious, there have been many times where I’ve shared with them (mostly children) that I also have type 1 diabetes. Often times, their faces light up knowing they have an opportunity to talk with someone who knows how they’re feeling.

Q. How do you reward yourself for practicing good diabetes management?

A. Good diabetes management in itself is a reward. I obtain good diabetes management through diet, exercise, and being active. I try to minimize my meat, simple carbohydrate, and processed food intake. By minimizing these foods from my diet, my glucose is more stable and manageable, giving me more energy. In addition to eating well, exercising helps manage my diabetes, allowing me to burn off excess sugar and fat, while pushing new oxygenated blood throughout my body. Good diet and regular exercise is a reward both physically and mentally. Lastly, it’s important for me to just be active. If I start to become lazy, my diabetes management can become much more difficult.

Q. Who is your diabetes superhero and why?

A. My diabetes superheroes are my parents. Neither of them have diabetes, but their support throughout the years of the ups and down keeps me motivated to manage my diabetes the best that I can. Looking back and seeing what I’ve accomplished since insulin pump therapy has made me realize how lucky I am. There are times people ask if I’m upset dealing with my diabetes on a daily basis, and I simply tell them my pump and CGM make managing it that much easier. I couldn’t have done it all without the support of my mom and dad.

Matt and Whitney Kearney #2
Matt Kearney Backpack Supplies














– Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.

– Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps

– Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.

– Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems

– The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.

– Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

For more information, please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/importantsafetyinformation.

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