Meet Jordan Hicks, major league baseball pitcher with one of the ‘fastest pitches in MLB history’, at 105.1 mph. In addition to kicking off the 2021 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Jordan is also focusing on becoming an advocate for the diabetes community, since he’s living with type 1 diabetes himself. We are excited to be partnering with Jordan, also known as the ‘Diabetic Phenom,’ to raise awareness of diabetes technology and share his story with our community. Hear directly from Jordan below on how he processed his diagnosis, manages his diabetes today, and how his mindset drives his ability to achieve his goals.
A Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis
I was a junior in high school – focusing on things most kids that age focus on, like my schoolwork, being the best baseball player I could be, and hanging out with my friends. Then, I started feeling sick – dry mouth, more frequent urination, and most concerning, I lost 30 pounds in three months. I told my mom how I was feeling and we went to see the doctor. Within 5 days I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was put on an insulin regimen. I quickly realized that my life was forever changed.
With that said, I was also determined to continue doing all that I loved while managing this diagnosis. For the first several years I managed my diabetes by taking long and short acting daily insulin shots. For me, this seemed like the best option because it was discreet, and I felt like it was going to be the best way to continue to live my life in the most normal way possible. And it worked – but admittedly I was not always in the best control, and I was checking my blood sugar constantly through fingerpricks.
Finding the Right Technology to Compete
Looking back, I wish I had known sooner what life could be like with an insulin pump. I always thought it would be so much more difficult to compete in baseball with a device attached to my hip, but over the years I learned that for me the opposite was true. Before I started using the insulin pump system from Medtronic – which includes an integrated continuous glucose monitor (CGM) – I would check my blood sugar six to eight times before going into a game. I was so nervous that I would go high or low right before going onto the field, and I wanted to make sure I knew exactly where I was before taking the mound.
I wear my pump almost all the time – during practice, workouts, hanging out with friends, etc. When I get called into the game I do detach my pump, and then the second I get back to the dugout I put it right back on so I know where my levels are, and can eat a granola bar or drink juice if needed. I know most Major League Baseball players don’t carry two granola bars in their back pocket at all times, but I also want to be prepared and it works for me.
Since being on an insulin pump, I have gotten used to being able to see my sugar levels every five minutes, and it has removed the guesswork and constant fingerpricks that I was growing frustrated with. The system is also helpful when I am traveling and sleeping in hotel rooms across the country. I’m a heavy sleeper and so I love that it alerts me if I am going low overnight so I can take action or will suspend the delivery of insulin before I go low to protect me when I don’t have family or teammates around. Since I was diagnosed, I always wanted to be the one managing my diabetes, and this system allows me to do that without having to rely on others. While I am lucky to have a loving support system around me, using this insulin pump helps me feel in control of my diabetes and gives me confidence in maintaining my levels even during the season when the competition is high and we are traveling often.
I do realize that living with diabetes is something unique to me, and that most of my teammates and friends don’t have to deal with the constant worry that comes with managing diabetes, but I also have never let it hold me back. I believe that everyone has their ‘something’ – for me it’s diabetes, but for others it could something else.
The Diabetic Phenom Mindset
Just like most individuals, I have days where I feel on top of the world – I am not thinking about my diabetes, I am pitching well, and I feel incredibly healthy. I also have days that are humbling, when I feel like things are not going my way and I struggle. That said, I think it is all about mindset. When I do find myself struggling, I let myself have a moment, and then I refocus and get back into what I call the ‘diabetic phenom’ mindset. I use this as motivation to not let my diabetes define me,
but instead channel it toward overcoming adversity and accomplishing my goals. You can have diabetes and be phenomenal and I never want to forget that.
Getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes did not diminish my dream of playing baseball in the majors. I never wanted diabetes to be an excuse for any coach or manager to question my ability or commitment, so I took care of my business on and off the field and did my best to not make it a factor. Having good control and being on top of my diabetes management was what made this possible.
Becoming an Advocate and Inspiration
I’m very excited to be partnering with Medtronic to help get the message out about the technology and help others with diabetes learn how they too can feel ‘phenomenal.’ Getting more involved in the diabetes community is something I have wanted for a long time, and I look forward to becoming a stronger advocate for so many of us.
I will never forget meeting a young boy in San Diego at one of my games who had type 1 diabetes. The boy and I talked about our shared love of the game and then he gave me one of his own baseball cards. To this day I carry that baseball card with me when I travel, and it serves as a reminder of all that I can do to inspire others living with diabetes to never lose sight of their dreams.
When I started referring to myself as the ‘diabetic phenom’ it was to motivate myself. Since then, however, it has helped motivate others which I am so appreciative for because I want to serve as an inspiration and ally to others to follow their own passions and dreams. Living with diabetes certainly adds some complication to life, but it is manageable thanks to the advanced technologies available today, and we can still to everything we set out to do prior to our diagnoses.
When people think of me, I want them to think: “He’s a good guy, a good pitcher…and, he has diabetes.” My diabetes does not define me, but it certainly is a part of me and so many others who can help drive our motivation and bond us together.
To learn more about Medtronic insulin pump systems you can visit https://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/treatments/insulin-pump-therapy. You can also watch more about my story, here.
This post is sponsored by Medtronic. All opinions expressed in this article are Jordan’s own and reflect his real-life experience. Individual results may vary.
This testimonial relates an account of an individual’s experience using a Medtronic device. Experiences using the device can and do vary. Please talk to your doctor about your health and the risks and benefits of Medtronic devices.
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.
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