World Diabetes Day

Making the road by walking. Mixed Ability for Erasmus+ Days
Pandemic Positivity

At IMAS, we want to make sport inclusive for everybody who faces barriers to participation. With World Diabetes Day coming up, IMAS team member Imogen spoke to two IMAS Trainers and Bumble Bees Rugby Club members – Cam and Paul – about how diabetes affects their lives and their participation in sports.


Cam has had Type 1 Diabetes since 2015. The first sign was a rash, but he quickly developed other signs, including swelling in his feet, which led to his diagnosis.

How does Diabetes impact your daily life?
It’s alright but then I get right tired and I hate it. Otherwise everything’s okay.

How does diabetes impact your participation in sport?
Well it affects me in different ways to Paul. When I do sport my bloods tends to go up but then after half an hour of the game I haven’t got any energy and then I have to have a Mars bar or something.

Does sport help you to manage your diabetes?
Well yeah it does. It helps me get fit and stuff. And it helps me to control it a bit better. It helps me to be physical. If I’m not physical it goes tits up and I’ll put weight on quicker and my sugars tend to go up a lot faster.

What do you think are people’s misconceptions about diabetes?
They don’t understand the way I feel because if I’m in a mood they think I’m being disrespectful but I don’t mean it. And if people see me having a low point sometimes they don’t do anything.

What would you most like the world to know about diabetes?
Just be aware of it because it can be life threatening sometimes because if my sugars go low I could end up in a coma. If your sugars are low we need some sugar. If you don’t look after it your organs can start to fail.


Paul has Type 1 Diabetes. He was diagnosed when he was rushed to hospital after having a severe reaction to marzipan. He told me: “my body all went funny and I was in hospital for quite a long time. They couldn’t find out what it was but then they told me there was some bad news and that I had Type 1 diabetes.”

How does Diabetes impact your daily life?
I don’t take tablets, I inject with an insulin pen. I have a machine that does my bloods and I do that every morning night and I have insulin every day in the morning and in the night. It makes me tired, I never get a good night’s sleep. I think it makes you tired and a bit dozy, like you want to go to bed. Sometimes it can make me really thirsty and I have to have water and it can make me really dehydrated. I can drink about 3 or 4 bottles of water. Another thing is it makes me very moody and I can snap out at people sometimes and get a bit upset and start crying and get frustrated. I wish I could get rid of it, but I don’t know how you can. I feel like I’m stuck with it and it makes me miserable sometimes. People try to have jokes with me, and I can’t take jokes.

How does diabetes impact your participation in sport?
Sometimes I can start sweating and feeling dizzy and I have Lucozade or a chocolate bar because my sugar levels are low. If I’m still not feeling well they have to keep me off the pitch. If I’m feeling alright then they’ll let me back on. The coaches do know I’ve got diabetes so if I start feeling funny I can sit out for 10 minutes and I can go back on when I’m feeling alright. Sometimes I might lose my balance, or I might fall. Sometimes my legs might go like jelly and can’t walk off the pitch.

I’m independent so I have to bring all my medication to rugby and it’s my responsibility to bring it all with me. I have to take insulin with me, and I do bloods as well, one of the coaches or someone will write it in my book.

Does sport help you to manage your diabetes?
Yes it does. It makes my bloods go down. When I’m playing rugby my sugar levels seem to drop down low but when I’m stuck in they seem to go high. Before I wasn’t even allowed to go back to rugby. I’ve got Cerebral Palsy as well and I do struggle with my walking, some people say why are you waking like that and I don’t really answer them, that’s just the way I walk. I can go back [to rugby] now but I can’t train with the other guys but I do exercises to help build me back up because my legs are weak at the moment.

What do you think are people’s misconceptions about diabetes?
Sometimes I get frustrated and lash out, and I have to say sorry to the staff and the staff do understand because I can’t go out anywhere because of the lockdown.

What would you most like the world to know about diabetes?
If you don’t control it, it can kill you. If you don’t have your insulin or your tablets you could go into a coma. You might not even come out of the coma. It can be very serious. I’ve been rushed to hospital and been put in a coma twice because my blood sugars dropped down and I didn’t realise. It’s important that you know what to do. It’s good to always keep a Lucozade or something in your back just in case your sugars go down.

Cam and Paul also told me about a time when Paul’s sugar levels dropped at rugby training, and he had forgotten to bring anything with him to increase them. Cam knew how to help him and was able to give him some Lucozade and chocolate to make him feel better. Having a teammate who understood the condition was very valuable.

1 Comment

  1. Following the success of last year’s inaugural Special Educational Needs Disability (SEND) festival, where the Club hosted local schools to play an array of rugby games on The Stoop pitch, the Harlequins Foundation today held their second Mixed Ability Rugby Day for over 80 pupils.

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