The Severity of My Illness

I am constantly reminded of the severity of diabetes in the media.

In the past, I haven’t often worried about my diabetes and it’s impact on my long term health. I am finding, however, that as my diabetes is getting older and I am taking more of an interest in my health (cue this blog), things are changing. During restless nights on the couch or in bed, I do find myself thinking about how my body is handling unpleasant blood sugar swings. Can it handle them? And for how much longer?

I’m sure I’m scaring myself silly. But as I’m reading through some confronting statistics in Diabetes Australia’s Insulin Pump Therapy in Australia: The Case for Actionthe severity of the very disease that I live with hits home.

The incidence of type 1 diabetes in Australia has grown at a rate of 30% in the past decade, and there are over 3,000 new cases of type 1 diabetes every year.

High average hba1c levels are a strong indicator of the risk of developing long term diabetes complications.

The annual cost of type 1 diabetes to the Australian health system is $570 million, and the average cost per person is $4,669.

Finally, some people with type 1 diabetes cannot achieve optimal blood glucose control without the use of diabetes technology.

Sure, those haunting statistics aren’t intentionally targeted at me. Diabetes is rather an invisible condition. A lot of the people around us don’t see, or realise what we go through day by day in order to stay alive. As one of my readers, Maria, pointed out last week, sometimes we have to get serious in order to get our point across to those people who matter (politicians anyone?).

Yet, in spite of all of these factors, there are still so many barriers in Australia that prohibit us from doing what we are told to do.

The NDSS only subsidises around 5 test strips per day.

Potentially life changing Continuous Glucose Monitors are out of reach for many, as they are costly and not currently subsidised by the Australian government.

There are so many barriers to insulin pumping in Australia. Cost. Location. Income. Ability to afford private health insurance. Availability of health care professionals.

I also feel that more could be done to encourage diabetes technology, social media and other innovations in d-management. If you are a part of the Diabetes Online Community on Twitter, you’ll find a lot of enthusiastic insulin pumpers and CGM users. You’ll find a lot of engaged, passionate people who are always willing to provide helpful advice and friendly support. You’d be hard pressed not to be inspired and motivated by such an amazing community of people.

But thinking about my own journey prior to finding the diabetes community, the sad reality is that DOC is probably not representative of the entire diabetes population.

That, in my opinion, is the severity of this illness.

Finally, please wish Rodger Federer best of luck in tonight’s Australian Open Semi Final! 

Diabetes Online Community Down Under

I have very little Australian spirit. You need only watch me shouting at the overhyped Aussies in the Australian Open. Don’t even get me started on Nick Kyrgios…

However, in the spirit of Australia Day tomorrow, I would like to acknowledge some awesome people in our Australian Diabetes Online Community. Also because I’m going from memory here, I apologise in advance if I’ve gotten any of my facts wrong!

Melinda, one half of Twice Diabetes, always brings a great deal of knowledge, experience and helpful advice to conversations in the DOC. She’s also not afraid to call it like it is where diabetes organisations are concerned.

When I first connected with Maureen at Mum of Type 1, she was concerned about a future for her teenage son with type 1 diabetes. She’s since joined the ranks of the Twitterverse, written to politicians, fundraised, and continues to blog as her secret therapy!

Renza at Diabetogenic is very honest and relatable, and she’s not afraid to tell us that diabetes is plain crap to live with. Working for a diabetes organisation in Australia, her writing also gives us the insider’s view on her advocacy work.

I feel like I have a lot in common with Georgie at Lazy Pancreas. We were both diagnosed with type 1 in 2010 at roughly the same age. A diagnosis with type 1 presents unique challenges at every age, and Georgie articulates in her writing what I often feel myself.

As the title of her blog suggests, Rachel at Yoga For Diabetes lives and breathes yoga. When Rachel was diagnosed as a LADA a few years ago, she wanted to show others how yoga could benefit people with diabetes. She now has dedicated social media channels, and a book in the works.

Kyle at Training T1D displays admirable determination in not letting diabetes get in the way of his cycling. He impressively navigated his blood sugar levels through the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in South Australia this month, and raised over $4,000 in doing so.

Ashley at Bittersweet Diagnosis was initially diagnosed as a LADA before becoming insulin dependent. Ashley is a dietician, and recently travelled to Vancouver where she was elected as President of the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders in Diabetes program.

I’ve always wondered what life would be like if I was diagnosed a few years earlier while I was still at school, and everyone ‘knew.’ Bec at A Diabetic’s Rollercoaster handles it with a lot of enthusiasm and humour, and I enjoy reading about how she navigates diabetes among her friends as a young adult today.

Then, of course, there’s the awesome Oz Diabetes Online Community who hangs out on Twitter every Tuesday night. I appreciate this group so much. I can’t say how awesome it is just to casually chat, bounce ideas and thoughts about, and laugh with a group of people who just get it.

Our online community here in Australia may be relatively small (to my knowledge, at least), but know that I really appreciate each and every one of your voices.

Happy Australia Day!

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

My entire workplace is pretty lousy where the staff room kitchen is concerned.

If you were to come down for morning tea, you’ll often find styrofoam cups, paper towels and clean cutlery in short supply. The microwave is often splattered with food stains, and the sink is frequently piled with dirty dishes. The fridge smells of food that people have a tendency to leave in there. There was a leftover Pavlova still sitting there last week from Christmas Lunch, for heaven’s sake!

Over time, I’ve learned to gather my own stash of things. I have paper plates to save me from washing up. I keep my own plastic cutlery, because our kitchen seems to have more knives than it does forks and spoons. I was furious last time we ran out of styrofoam cups and I couldn’t have my morning coffee. So I now have my own stash of those as well.

Last Friday, I went to prepare my coffee at morning tea time. I noticed that the sugar container was empty. I began opening the cupboards, rummaging around for the big packet that’s normally kept there. But there was nothing to be found.

I never used to be much of a coffee drinker before I had diabetes. Yet these days, it’s one of the first things that I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. No, I’m not talking about the crappy stuff out of the tin. I mean a proper shot of Italian Espresso from the capsule machine, topped generously with heated milk. I’ve become a bit of a snob…

Coffee helps me to recover after a rough night of dealing with diabetes. It gets me through my early starts. I look forward to it at morning tea time at work. It accompanies me outside in the afternoons after work. I also appreciate that coffee is a relatively low carb beverage to enjoy in lieu of a snack. But I’ve never been able to drink it without two sugars, or in my case, equal tablets. 

Over the past year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to cut back. First I cut back to one and a half sugars, and got used to the taste. Then to one. Then to half a teaspoon. I left it there, because hey, half a teaspoon wasn’t much. That was, until we ran out of sugar in the kitchen last Friday at work.

Deciding that a coffee without sugar was better than no coffee, I made myself one. And there actually wasn’t much of a difference in the taste. 

 Today, I’m proud to say that I am able to drink my coffee with no sugar.

All because of diabetes, nonetheless.

(And one very messy kitchen).