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Attidudes in Diabetes

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Apologies for my prolonged absence. You know that ridiculous flu that has been going around? Yea, I got it. Not once but twice – ever so lucky. Good news is that I’m 95% recovered and back on my feet again. However I have managed to pass it onto a few people. Oops. That’s what you people get for hanging around me haha.

A few things have happened since my last post. Not sure how many of you would recognise this guy, but we played a gig with him on the 11th of August at the Williamstown Town Hall for Western Region Concert Band‘s Annual Last Night of the Proms event! This wonderful community band that I play clarinet in and am on the committee for, not only provides a place for us to gather and make music. But occasionally we have the opportunity to perform with top notch artists like Leo Sayer and Sylvie Paladino. Each performance is an experience I will always remember and treasure. Least to say the night was a huge success where we played to a sell out crowd and the atmosphere and feeling of playing to a crowd of 1100 people is unbelievable.

My sister and I rubbing shoulders with Leo Sayer!

The day after the event though, was when my immune system decided to cave in on itself. Not the best time since I have only recently started seeing a group of Exercise Physiologists in training at uni to help improve my diabetes management, get my fitness back on track, and lose some weight. I have to admit that initially, I wasn’t to phased about it. I volunteered to help out but I had no clear goals as to why I wanted to do this. But now that I’m starting to set a routine to include heading to the gym almost everyday, I really enjoy the mini challenge I feel from going to the gym and physically pushing myself. It’s only been about three or four weeks but I’m noticing a vast improvement in my sugar levels, my fitness level, my skin complexion and even my concentration levels. I created a goal to lose 5-6kgs (which I’ve always said I wanted to do but always gave up without really trying) and have already lost 1kg.

At my Endocrinologist appointment on Tuesday evening, I relayed my proud “I’ve started exercising and want to lose weight” spiel and she could not be prouder of me. Even before that, my Educator took me aside while at the waiting room to have a chat about up upcoming PillCam fasting prep, but she hardly spent any time on that matter. She sat me down with a serious look on her face and said we needed a discussion about my attitude to my diagnosis. I was slightly shocked but not so surprised that she had brought this up. Since our last meeting I had been emailing Medtronic in a bid to get a pump to see what it would be like and to get better control but my Educator had always knocked it back. It was then that I got extremely frustrated and angry even at the way people view Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the resources that are available to each group.

I’m secretly glad my educator saw this in me, whilst I was undeniably in denial about my diagnosis. I don’t want it to be my fault that I have diabetes. I don’t want to be grouped in with 90% of other people with type 2 that are obviously due to poor lifestyle choices. And it’s not fair that I have diabetes, when there are other people in the world, in my life, who abuse their body with no adverse effects. Then my Endo drilled it in for me. She said “Within the diabetes scope of things, you’re lucky. You’re incredibly lucky that your pancreas is still somewhat responsive. It’s not as good as the average person, it needs a boost with your insulin and your metformin. But it’s still working.” To top it off, my Educator said something along the lines of this “You may have the usual highs and lows. But that’s to be expected with diabetes. I know you are a perfectionist but there is no perfection to diabetes. Your sugars are as perfect as can be. Your HbA1c is almost that of a normal persons’ HbA1c. You should be proud of what you have achieved and you have come a long way from when you first walked in this clinic. The fact that you can pick up patterns in your own sugar levels throughout the day and adjust for them accordingly is amazing. Just keep up the good work and don’t be so hard on yourself”. I guess for me it is hard to accept that this is something that may be beyond my control. But I am doing the best I can and it’s one thing for people to be proud of me. I need to be proud of what I’ve done and my achievements and sometimes it’s ok to bask in that little limelight before pursuing the next goal.

I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of the clinic feeling as empowered because I actually took on board what they say, which nearly brought me to tears. I am always hard on myself. They say you are your own worst critic and I believe that its a good thing but sometimes it may be detrimental. From here, I will keep pushing on and working hard. But at the end of the day I shall praise myself and say “Ashley, you’ve done a fantastic job today in <insert awesome thing here>” It’s time I shifted my thinking to cut myself some slack.

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Pancreatically challenged, diabetes advocate, PhD student and dietitian - working to positive changes within the diabetes community and healthcare setting. Although diagnosed at age of 19 with T2DM, the type of diabetes I have is under constant debate. Finally pumping as of March 2014.

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