My husband is a huge Indy Race Car fan. As a result, we spend a lot of time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May. This year, I am especially interested in the story of Charlie Kimball, the IRL’s first driver with diabetes. Kimball has type 1 diabetes. “How can he manage his insulin levels during a race?” I wondered. So, I did a bit of research to find out.
“Kimball says that on race days, his preparation starts ‘from the second I wake up in the morning.’ He injects insulin through a prefilled pen device and checks his blood sugar constantly. Starting two hours before the race, he checks his levels at 30-minute intervals.
Then, inside the car, he wears a continuous glucose monitor, which is a patch attached to his arm that has a wire inserted under the skin. The device transmits his blood-sugar readings to a receiver attached to his steering wheel. If his levels drop, he can sip orange juice through a straw in his helmet.”
My husband brought the significance of this situation into perspective when he patiently explained to me that, years ago, someone with diabetes wouldn’t have been eligible to drive in the race because the diabetes would have caused him to fail the physical required of every driver who competes in the 500.
For those of you who have health conditions and are not lucky enough to have the knowledge and expertise of a racing team at your finger tips, never fear. You too, may be able to monitor your glucose, as well as other health-related data such as pollen count and air quality, from your own vehicle soon.
“Ford Motor Co. is working on smartphone-like apps that could be integrated in the display panel in modern vehicles. These applications will contain health-related data, such as pollen count and air quality, and Bluetooth synchronizers for blood glucose meters.”
Who knows what the future will bring for our cars? Perhaps someday I will be able to test my TSH levels as I drive to the kids to the playground. I can’t help but think that that could open a whole other can of worms regarding safety issues the likes of which cell phone conversations and texting have never seen, but it is fun to think about.