A Close Second

Yesterday afternoon I laced up my white Nike trainers, stashed my FreeStyle Libre and Orange glucose tabs into my pockets and sat my headphones into my ears. I stepped outside into a breezy December afternoon, and started walking in the direction of the park down the road from me.

After a short stroll through the grass and the trees, I checked into my local Pharmacy, picked up the box of heavily subsidised supplies I’d ordered through the NDSS a few days earlier, and went on my merry way.

As I backtracked through the park, with the box on my side supported by my right arm, I couldn’t stop thinking about how attractive it all looked in there. The fresh boxes of supplies, all packaged neatly in a bigger box that was originally home to Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid. (Lemon scented, in case you were wondering…)

The comfort infusion sets with their manual insertion, that have helped to relieve my feelings of anxiety over every site change. The angled nature of those sets, that have helped to relieve the constant bruising and bleeding that the 90 degree ones would cause. The simplicity of their packaging, which minimises waste and makes travelling a hell of a lot easier.

The 2ml cartridges that hold my rapid acting insulin, the precious substance that fuels my existence each and every day. The magical liquid that enables my body to convert carbohydrates into energy every time that I eat. The special fluid that trickles into my body every three minutes to keep my blood glucose level, at a custom rate that’s only possible thanks to an insulin pump. The precious stuff that is only a doctor’s script, 36 dollars and a short walk down the road away.

The test strips that pair with my Accu Chek Guide blood glucose meter, and allow me to check in on my blood sugar level. Its Bluetooth abilities that seamlessly transfer blood glucose results to my smartphone with ease. Its sister smartphone app that allows me to review my stats without the hassle of cables and USB ports. The accompanying Lancing device that isn’t exactly ‘painless,’ but the one I’d want to be using if I absolutely have to be stabbing my fingers 15 times per day.

As I casually carried home this box of dishwashing liquid containing another two months of my life, I realised just how lucky I am to be able to trial and choose the products and devices that best suit my needs. How lucky I am that these expensive supplies are relatively cheap and accessible to me here in Australia.

If I can’t have a working pancreas for Christmas, then this sure does come a close second.

And if you’re thinking about those less fortunate this Christmas, consider a donation to T1 International, Spare a Rose or Insulin for Life

“How Do You Manage Sweets With Your Diabetes?”

My red, plastic plate was piled high. I’d grabbed a scoop of hot apple crumble topped with Connoisseur ice-cream, a Cherry Ripe chocolate cupcake and a slice of liquor sponge cake from the desert table at our family get together over the weekend.


Get togethers in our family are all about the food. I spent most of Thursday telling Mum that she’d prepared way too much for our get together that evening, and the remainder of the weekend saying I told you so. Nonetheless, you still want to try and have a little bit of all the deliciousness.

“How do you manage the sweets with your diabetes?” my Uncle asked me as I sat down at the table with my plate.

After all these years with type 1, you sort of begin to expect these kinds of questions. I mean, even I get a little conscious when I sit down with a piled plate, wondering what others must think.

I went on to explain that I would look at the plate and estimate that I had at least 100g of carbs there.

I went on to say that I would enter 100g into my insulin pump, and that the pump would deliver an insulin dose for me.

I went on to explain that I can technically eat anything, so long as I cover it with insulin.

I went on to explain that I should still be mindful of how many carbs I eat, but that it was Easter and I didn’t care so much today.

I went on to explain that if it wasn’t Easter and I did care a bit more, a back up bolus of at least 15 minutes would also be helpful.

I didn’t explain the months of hard work that went into perfecting my basal rate, so that my mealtime insulin does its job and doesn’t get stuck in quicksand.

I didn’t explain how I weigh all of the food I prepare at home, multiply that weight by carb factors, and then divide it by my own unique insulin to carb ratio.

I didn’t explain how some foods are digested very slowly, while others are digested very rapidly, and insulin needs to be backed up or delayed accordingly.

I didn’t explain that a larger, higher fat or restaurant meal, requires a temporary basal rate for several hours to combat the insulin resistance.

I didn’t explain the importance of checking my blood sugar levels post meal, to ensure that my insulin is doing its job.

I didn’t explain that sometimes I get it wrong, and I end up eating my way out of lows.

I didn’t explain that sometimes I also get it wrong, and I end up shovelling down insulin and bucket loads of water at 3am to bring down the highs.

I didn’t explain the huge investment I’ve had to put into learning, observing and applying, so that I don’t make these errors so often and see more numbers in range.

I know that my uncle wasn’t trying to be rude or judgemental. And it was nice of him to ask. I liked that it opened up the dialogue, and that I could deflate the stigma around sweets and diabetes.

It’s just a shame that despite how simply I’d put it, nobody in that room will remember a word of what I said.

It’s a shame that despite how many times I check my blood sugar or pull out my pump during the day, nobody seems to notice the diabetes.

It’s a shame that I’m only ever asked these questions when I’m seen with a plate piled high with desert.