My Diabetes Inklings

In my perfect world…

Moving to a new area, it took me a while to get a referral to see a new psychologist as I’ve been struggling with my mental health while adjusting to life as a working mum. After about two months, I finally had my initial appointment, to which I was more than half an hour late for (that’s a whole other story for another time). One of the exercises the psychologist recommended to work through was to reflect on what my perfect world would look like if I woke up the next day and all my stressors disappeared.

Initially I laughed and joked that not having to worry about money would definitely resolve my issues. You know, as you do. Then I started thinking deeper about other things I wanted from life. I listed things like having the flexibility to work on projects that inspire me, being able to spend more time with my family. Selfishly, I wanted to spend more time doing things I love like boxing, playing music, learning to cook and reading – things I used to do before I started working in academia. These days every spare moment in my day is filled by teaching commitments and pursing the next grant or publication. There’s never an “off button” and it’s exhausting because when you’re not doing it, you feel guilty for it. Even though you’re already putting in more than your contracted hours.

What struck me as interesting was that never once did I say that I wished I didn’t have diabetes. Living with diabetes, and its (literal) highs and lows, is something I’ve seem to have accepted as a constant in my life. If anything, its presence reminds me that of everything that is happening around me in life, I am the most important thing. Diabetes reminds me that self-care is not just a cliche but a necessity.

Perhaps this exercise was indeed worthwhile to remind to work harder on maintaining this balancing act called life. More importantly, it’s made me reflect on what living my life might mean and what that could look like. Of course, it will never be the perfect picture that I have idealised and that’s not what I would like either. Having some discomfort in our lives will push and challenge us to improve ourselves and situations. That being said we shouldn’t be constantly feeling overwhelmed, emotional, anxious and on the brink of exhaustion.

I’m looking forward to working with my psychologist over the next few sessions to workshop some strategies to get that clarity back and feel like I’m back on track. I’m tired of feeling exhausted and stuck (literally and figuratively). I’m excited to feel that flicker of hope of feeling back in control.

Balance is ever changing. Being comfortable with that flexibility is also something I’m trying to work towards. Especially with our world about to get a little more crazy!
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One Step Closer

Over the weekend we heard announcements from both major political parties in Australia promising CGM subsidy for people with type 1 diabetes should they win the upcoming election. For us, this would mean paying $32.50 per month for CGM as opposed to $330 for life saving/changing technology. In real terms, it means being able to have further options when it comes to diabetes management.

The ability to see what my glucose levels are doing in real time provides such a huge safety net, especially being pregnant and chasing after a toddler, while trying to juggle full time work and life in general. For some it means freedom and independence to live their lives rather than being in fear of a high or a low and its repercussions. Regardless, having it within our reach is a pretty effing big deal.

I had expected to be equally effing excited and happy to hear such an announcement. Instead I felt surprisingly dirty and angry. Angry that our healthcare needs were being used as a political game piece; that politicians were trying to buy our vote with promises that might not necessarily eventuate. Although to be fair the last time they promised CGM funding to those with clinical needs, they actually delivered. So I do have hope.

I’m also upset at myself for taking on such a cynical view. Especially knowing how hard organisations and individuals have worked and advocated for this over the last decade. These changes are not something that happens overnight and I’m so so proud and happy that their hard work and our persistence as a community to advocate for this has paid off. I just really really hope that regardless of the outcome, these promises will become reality.

But the advocacy doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there. Diabetes doesn’t fit into neat little tick boxes that our healthcare system has adopted. There are so many people living with different types of diabetes or similar conditions who would benefit from ongoing CGM use. As a community, we need to continue advocating for everyone within the community to keep #CGMforALL a reality. Our voices are stronger together and I really hope that the advocacy doesn’t slow down once people with type 1 diabetes have access to CGM subsidy. I mean, we’re still fighting for insulin pump consumable subsidies to be accessible for people with type 2 diabetes too.

So here’s to the freaking Easter bunny. For giving us a luxuriously long weekend, with fabulous weather, news to celebrate and reflections to mull over.

My Diabetes Inklings

The Legacy of a Raindrop

“No matter what stage you’re at in your career, always ask yourself how do you want to be remembered?”

I didn’t quite grasp this concept initially but the more I think of it, the more I liken it to the ripple effect and our conscious and unconscious impact on the people surrounding us. Somehow, this quote echoed through again as we celebrated the career of Diabetes Victoria’s (now-ex) CEO, Craig Bennett and the achievements of people living with type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more at the Kellion Victory Medal award ceremony.

So now I’ve been pondering over this again as I reflect on my work as a diabetes advocate, as a researcher and as an educator. Now throw in the mix of being a mum and how it’s impacted my ability to fulfil those roles and the importance of those identities to me. I’ve always idealised being a key player of something that will create a huge impact in the community. It’s pushed me to embrace many leadership roles, even when I have no idea what I’m doing, at least I’ve come away from each opportunity with new learnings.

Being pregnant while chasing after a toddler has forced me to slow down. More importantly, it’s made me let go of striving for perfection all the time. It’s been incredibly frustrating as I’m brimming with projects and ideas and wanting to chase collaborations with amazing people I’m meeting. Being one person (or maybe even half a functioning person at this stage), it’s hard to feel like you’ve made an impact at all. But when I look around closely, I am making a difference to people’s lives. The excitement and smile on my daughters’ face when I pick her up from childcare reminds me of that.

Now I need to learn to embrace a slower pace of life in preparation of managing two energiser bunnies under two. I know the next few years are not going to be easy. It won’t be all or nothing though – I just need to work within my limits, set my boundaries and focus on improving the relationships I have around me; from my family and friends to colleagues and students. The relationships that we have makes life so much more enriching and we don’t recognise this enough. For me, it makes the extra hours and effort I put it feel worth it, knowing that I had some role in their success.

Sometimes it’s those people that we invest in who will go on to change the world. So if you feel like a small nobody, please do not underestimate yourself or your power to make an impact. Even if it’s something you might not see straight away, know that to someone, you have made their day or said/done something that changed their lives. It’s all about the ripple effect.