Retired Major League Baseball pitcher, Jason Johnson, was the first player permitted to use an insulin pump out on the field while playing during a major league game. Jason recently sat down with Great Day, Tampa Bay to share how that shift in how he managed his diabetes gave him a better sense of control and freedom. For Jason, using an insulin pump allowed him to focus on the game without needing to check his blood sugar levels as frequently between innings.
We caught up with Jason to learn a bit more about his experience with insulin pump therapy, especially now that he has transitioned to using the MiniMed 670G system with SmartGuard technology.
Q: What was it like being a professional athlete with type 1 diabetes?
Jason: I always had to stay on top of my levels because of the adrenalin rushes I would get during games and it wasn’t always easy. Sometimes an inning can be as short as 8 minutes, so when I was taking insulin shots I would have to use that time to walk from the dugout to the club house to take my medication. It didn’t leave me with much time to prepare for the next inning.
That said, I also saw my diabetes as a blessing in disguise sometimes. As hard as it was to keep track of blood sugars and insulin while playing professional baseball, it was special to me because my success helped other kids with diabetes have the confidence needed to pursue their own dreams of being an athlete.
Q: Why was it so important to you that MLB allow you to play with a pump?
Jason: It was important to me that the league approved me wearing the pump on the field because it took away a lot of the worry that I had previously. I was always wondering if my blood sugars were OK while I was out on the field, but the pump allowed me to concentrate more on pitching against the best hitters in the game.
Wearing my insulin pump allowed me to fully commit to pitching and worry less about low blood sugar levels, which used to be on my mind more than it should have.
Q: Today you are using the MiniMed 670G system. Can you tell us a bit about your experience on this pump?
Jason: My experience on the MiniMed 670G system has been great so far. Previously I would sometimes overeat because I was scared of a low and would in fact end up going high. This has also been curbed because the pump helps to bring my levels back up with a lot less sugar intake than I used to require.
Q: What would you say to others who are considering insulin pump therapy?
Jason: I would say that, in my opinion and experience it has been a life changer, so definitely discuss it with your family and doctors and see if it is the best option for you – as it has been for me.
Q: What do you wish someone told you about being an athlete with type 1 diabetes? Anything you would like to pass along to others?
Jason: I wish someone would have told me that there are always going to be people – such as coaches and scouts – who will doubt you, but to never let them be right. Always strive to be better than anyone else because the doubt will go away fast once they see what you can do.
I also want to tell anyone with type 1 diabetes that you can always do better. Don’t be satisfied with success and always work hard to be more successful because that success will speak loud and clear!!
*The patient testimonial above relates an account of an individual’s response to treatment. The account is genuine, typical and documented. However, this patient’s response does not provide any indication, guide, warranty or guarantee as to the response other people may have to the treatment. The response other individuals have to the treatment could be different. Responses to the treatment can and do vary. Not every response is the same. Please talk to your doctor about your condition and the risks and benefits of these technologies.
Important Safety Information
MINIMED 670G SYSTEM
The Medtronic MiniMed™ 670G system is intended for continuous delivery of basal insulin (at user selectable rates) and administration of insulin boluses (in user selectable amounts) for the management of type 1 diabetes mellitus in persons, seven years of age and older, requiring insulin as well as for the continuous monitoring and trending of glucose levels in the fluid under the skin. The MiniMed™ 670G system includes SmartGuard™ technology, which can be programmed to automatically adjust delivery of basal insulin based on Continuous Glucose Monitor sensor glucose values and can suspend delivery of insulin when the sensor glucose value falls below or is predicted to fall below predefined threshold values. The system requires a prescription. The Guardian™ Sensor (3) glucose values are not intended to be used directly for making therapy adjustments, but rather to provide an indication of when a fingerstick may be required. A confirmatory finger stick test via the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. All therapy adjustments should be based on measurements obtained using the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter and not on values provided by the Guardian™ Sensor (3). Always check the pump display to ensure the glucose result shown agrees with the glucose results shown on the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter. Do not calibrate your CGM device or calculate a bolus using a blood glucose meter result taken from an Alternative Site (palm) or from a control solution test. It is not recommended to calibrate your CGM device when sensor or blood glucose values are changing rapidly, e.g., following a meal or physical exercise. If a control solution test is out of range, please note that the result may be transmitted to your pump when in the “Always” send mode.
Pump therapy is not recommended for people whose vision or hearing does not allow recognition of pump signals and alarms. Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to maintain contact with their healthcare professional. The safety of the MiniMed™ 670G system has not been studied in pregnant women. For complete details of the system, including product and important safety information such as indications, contraindications, warnings and precautions associated with system and its components, please consult http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/important-safety-information#minimed-670g  and the appropriate user guide at http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/download-library