The Australasian Diabetes Congress kicked off today in Adelaide, and I count myself lucky that Diabetes Australia has once again asked me to join their ‘People’s Voice’ team of consumer reporters. Diabetes Australia have covered my travel and registration costs to be here, however I am here on my own annual leave from work delivering my own honest opinions.
It’s nearly bedtime, but in being true to my word and delivering the ‘people’s voice’ out of the Congress, here are a few highlights from the sessions I attended today.
The Congress kicked off with a rather dry opening Plenary session this morning. My highlight was hearing Stephanie Amiel discuss some of the attitudes to hypo unawareness from 600 adults living with diabetes in the US who were surveyed. I’m not too sure I agree that the notion of ‘soldiering on’ through a hypo is a thinking trap. I could definitely relate to not wanting to make a big deal out of my hypos, grabbing some glucose tabs and carrying on. I check my blood sugar often enough, I know how to sufficiently treat my hypos, end of story!
I attended a really fascinating session after morning tea about minimising the risk of type 2 diabetes among women in remote Australia who had gestational diabetes. Because if you’re unaware, gestational diabetes significantly increases your chance of developing type 2 diabetes down the track. 52 of 114 invited women participated in a survey with a primary goal of post partum glucose testing. The survey found major challenges in following up with these women. After up to seven follow up contact attempts were made, the final response rate among those 52 women was just 23%. It was suggested that some women were exercising their right not to engage in post partum screening, while others were possibly living in fear or denial of developing type 2 diabetes.
After lunch I headed over to a session where real life case studies were presented by diabetes educators. It was really eye opening to hear the case study of one gentleman who had been blindly dosing insulin and rarely checking his blood sugar. It’s not the first story of this nature that I have heard, and I think our system of care is really failing people in this regard. I also listened to Amy Rush of the Telethon Type 1 Family Centre in Perth talk about how she worked with a young girl and her parents to navigate a family holiday by the pool in Bali and carb heavy pancake breakfasts. This is definitely what person centred care looks like!
The day wrapped with our consumer symposium on Co-Designing diabetes services. I had the pleasure of sharing my motivations for being involved with the Young Adult Diabetes Committee and participating in a ‘co design’ with Perth Diabetes Care – a one stop shop for all allied healthcare professional services. I was a bundle of nerves in presenting, but it was really heartwarming to have so many positive vibes around me from my tribe of fellow people with diabetes.
Diabetes Australia have also launched two new position statements, neither of which I have read thoroughly. The first is about low carbohydrate eating, and I think it’s great that DA are acknowledging something that many people are already doing to manage their diabetes. Low carb is a very broad term, everyone will have varying definitions of what low carb means and this statement won’t please everyone. Diabetes management is not a one size fits all, and the underlying message is that everyone should be supported in their own diabetes decision making under the wing of a supportive healthcare professional.
The second is about DIY Closed Loop Systems that people are building at home. Two of this year’s DA People’s Voice team are using such systems. The statement basically says that these systems are not supported by Diabetes Australia, and that people who choose to engage in them are doing so at their own risk. Again, the underlying takeaway is that DA are acknowledging another big issue in diabetes, and that anyone who chooses to use these systems should be supported and continue to work with a healthcare professional.
It was a massive start to the Diabetes Congress, and I will try my best to blog again tomorrow. The People’s Voice team are live tweeting out of the sessions they attend, and we are doing our best to cover as much of the conference as we can. The best way to follow along from home is to head on over to Twitter. You don’t need to be signed up, you can simply search for the hashtags #DAPeoplesVoice and #18ADC in the search bar and follow along at home!