Two weeks ago, I happily sacrificed my study week at uni to attend the OzDAFNE course at Diabetes Australia – Vic. Granted, I probably worked myself into the ground the week while trying to finish all my assignments. But it was mission accomplished! (sorta), which meant I could tackle the course with one less worry on my mind. So what is OzDAFNE exactly?
DAFNE stands for Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating and has been adapted from the original course taught in Germany. The main objective of the course is to allow more flexibility for people with type 1 diabetes who are on multiple daily injections (MDI). It’s common for us to be given set doses of insulin per meal from our diabetes healthcare team. In these cases, we would be required to have a similar amount of carbohydrate each day at each meal or ‘eat up’ to the amount of insulin in order to prevent hypos. As the name suggests, the aim of DAFNE is to adjust insulin doses to out food, and hence allowing us to ‘like what you eat and eat what you like’.
Each group has a maximum of eight people and is facilitated by a diabetes educator and dietitian. They run workshops each day ranging from what happens in our body when it comes to diabetes to how to read and interpret food nutrition labels. Most importantly, we learn where carbohydrates are in our foods, how to count them, the action profiles of our insulin and putting all the information together. At the start and end of each day we will share our BGLs with the group and discuss any changes we think we should make, where we had difficulties, and how we tackled them. We even had an excursion to a cafe to apply our new skills in a real world environment for when we eat out. Yours truly of course decided to order the most complicated dish to count carbs with. Just try and picture me trying to pick my fettuccine pasta from the veggies onto a separate plate in an attempt to weigh it. You definitely wished you had been there for that once in a lifetime performance. (did you know there’s approximately 90g of carbohydrate in a main pasta meal?)
Needless to say, it was an interesting week for me. DAFNE challenged my knowledge on diabetes management, particularly as some of the things we have been taught are so radically different to what we have been previously told by our diabetes healthcare team. Practicing some of these new teachings have also proved to be another challenge. For most of us it’s about deviating from what we have been doing for years, and we all know that change is hard. Imagine when your diabetes management lies within your own hands, rather than going by set doses from the doctor! Ultimately, it all boils down to trust; trusting what the information that the facilitators have been teaching us, and most importantly, trusting ourselves when we calculate our insulin doses or if we have to guess our carbohydrates.
Apart from the enlightening pasta weighing experience at the cafe, another memorable moment from the course was a little goal setting exercise we did on the last day. We had a huge selection of pictures depicting emotions or a certain state of mind. Individually, we had to choose one picture best representing us at the start of the course and another picture on how we feel after going through it. My first picture was of a person holding or hiding behind a mask. As a student dietitian living with diabetes, I often feel that people expect me to know everything on those topics. And so sometimes, particularly with my old diabetes healthcare team, I hid behind this wall of ‘yes, I understand everything’, but really I would be making a mental list of things to Google later on. But after doing the DAFNE course, I realised that everything we’ve been taught is just a brief overview of things to know. There is so much more to learn through our own experiences, mistakes and triumphs and for that reason, I chose a picture of an iceberg tip.
As Friday and the end of the course rolled around, I was exhausted from all the information we had been given. Yet at the same time, I was excited to be making using of all the information we had learnt and applying this to ourselves. You certainly can’t say this course wasn’t relevant to us! I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to participate in this course, only thanks to my new type 1 diabetes status. I only wish that those with type 2 diabetes and who are on MDI will be given a similar opportunity to participate in DAFNE soon because I’ve definitely learned a lot more than just carb counting!
This post was originally published at Diabetes Australia – Victoria’s blog.