Finding the Good in Diabetes.

Yeah, diabetes sucks.


I would ditch it for the cure in a heartbeat (if only I had some faith in one…)

But after this post I shared earlier this week, I kind of felt like it was only fair that I balance it out with some of the upsides. Because, there have been a lot of silver linings to a faulty pancreas. I’m not allowing myself to talk about fellow people with diabetes in this post, because I think I harp on about my peers all the time.

Nutrition. Before I was diagnosed, I ate a lot of processed foods. Almost every day after school I would open a packet of crisps, pour myself a glass of soft drink or eat a plate of ice cream. Diet staples included sugar laden breakfast cereals, muesli bars, glasses of juice, sugar for my coffee, Nesquik powder and syrupy yoghurts.

Although I wasn’t overweight, I was a bit of a chubby kid growing up and always felt a little self conscious for it (ironically, now I have the opposite problem!). I still enjoy treats on a daily basis, because life is too short not to drink the coffee or eat the Cannoli. But I guess living with diabetes has made me far more conscious of what I’m putting into my body, and I have made a lot of changes to what I eat.

Confidence. Living with diabetes has taken me one massive step outside of my comfort zone. I can’t say that I ever would have dreamed of speaking about diabetes in front of my peers, let alone in front industry and healthcare professionals. Being my own advocate around others in managing my condition has given me a massive shot of confidence, that I daresay has carried through to the non diabetes aspects of my life.

New places. Diabetes has taken me to so many new places here in Australia, and to be honest I’m not too sure that I would have been open to so much travel if it weren’t for the places diabetes advocacy has sent me to.

No more charity guilt. I have to admit I always felt guilty for turning down a cold caller or door knocker asking for money, but now I can actually ditch the guilt because I know that there are charities and orgs in the diabetes community which I actually do support.

Self care. Living with diabetes has taught me to make myself a priority. I think I’m far more in touch with how I am feeling, and what I need to do to look after myself both physically and mentally. Whether that be preparing meals, putting on my trackpants and watching some Netflix, going for a walk in the sunshine, or going to bed a little earlier tonight.

A smaller world. Because the world is so, so big. There are geographical barriers including suburbs, cities, states and countries separating me from other parts of it. Yet the diabetes community has broken down all of these. Because it truly is a global one, with information and peer support available at my fingertips 24 hours a day.

A blog. I have to say I was always a little obsessed with the idea of blogging a decade ago, with the little archive tabs on the sidebar categorising past posts by months and post counts. Today I’m the proud owner of my own little corner of the internet, which definitely would not exist if it weren’t for my defunct beta cells.

Thank you, diabetes.

You may have taken away my functioning beta cells, but you most certainly haven’t taken away my ability to live without them.

The Advice I Would Give to My Newly Diagnosed Self

I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for eight and a half years. Depending on where you sit on that spectrum, that will either feel like a remarkable feat or nothing more than a drop in the ocean.

I can remember the isolation I felt when I was diagnosed. I can remember locking myself in my room, and burying my face in my hands when I had the umpteenth hypo of the day. Or dropping the f bomb and smashing my fists into the wall when I woke up to a BG of 20.

Those things still do occasionally happen. Only the other night, I had been rage bolusing insulin all evening and was getting extremely agitated with every swipe of my FreeStyle Libre reader. When bedtime rolled around and my BG of 14 still hadn’t budged, I swapped out my insulin and changed my site, furious that I wouldn’t make it to bed on time.

But, I’ve come a long way in those eight and a half years. The one thing that stands out to me most in my journey, is that I have never stopped learning. There are so many things that I wish I had figured out sooner. So many tricks of the trade that mean those frustrating, sweary, agitating blood sugar related things don’t happen so often anymore.

If I could go back and give some advice to my newly diagnosed self, these are some of the things I would say.

Get online, and take an interest in diabetes.

Take your diabetes gear with you every time you leave the house.

Food is fuel for your body.

Focus on eating fresh food, and meals that you’ve prepared yourself.

Commit to basal testing, and carbohydrate counting.

Eating when your blood sugar is high, will only send it higher.

Diabetes will affect you emotionally, just as much as it will physically.

Diabetes management is a marathon, and not a sprint.

You can read my advice in full in my special column for World Diabetes Day over at Diabetes Daily. I’m extremely proud of it.