Dear Healthcare Professionals, My Diabetes Inklings

Diabetic Diet? No way!

Ever wondered where hospital food comes from and the process it takes to get to a patient’s table? I never did. Until I started my Food Service placement 4 weeks ago. I started, not knowing what to expect. I came out of it, with a renewed sense of inspiration and humbleness. Continue reading “Diabetic Diet? No way!”

My Diabetes Inklings

Diabetes Blog Week – Day 5 – Freaky Friday

Day 5 – If you could swap with one chronic condition, which would it be?

Swap? SWAP?! Could I just “swap” for no chronic condition? Pretty please?

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to live with any other chronic condition apart from diabetes. I’ve grown accustomed to life with diabetes, just like Sideshow Bob grew accustomed to Bart Simpson’s face. A diagnosis with any chronic condition is a life changing event and the thought of having to adjust life again just makes me cringe. Not that we have much choice in the matter of course. I think every condition has its bad sides and good sides and it’s easy to get buried and lost when times get tough. It’s also interesting how having a ‘condition’ or ‘disease’ has that natural connotation of a tough and limited life. But it definitely doesn’t have to be that way. My boyfriend is very timely at reminding me that if we focus on the negatives, that is all we will ever see. Diabetes, like any other ‘chronic condition’ has changed my life. However, I refuse to say that it has made life more difficult or complicated. That’s not to say it hasn’t at times of course, but everyone has their own struggles and little road bumps here and there. Instead, I would like to say that diabetes has changed me for the better. And in many ways, it has.

Diabetes came as a rude shock to me, my family and friends. I remember going out for dinner with my friends and refusing coke, saying I can’t drink it anymore because I have diabetes. I was greeted by a stunned and awkward silence. I remember sitting in front of a meal and just dreading eating all the carbs because I knew it would affect my sugar levels. I remember being disappointed when I excitedly told my doctor that my levels have finally fallen below 10 but still wasn’t good enough. I was even more upset when my endo told me what my target range was. (Hint: it was far from what I was at!) I remember the dread of going onto needles and feeling like I’ve failed myself and mum because she had worked so hard to keep us active and eating right to avoid this. I remember feeling like my world was collapsing around me. Most of all, I remember feeling so alone, isolated, lost and hopeless.

I tried desperately to reach out. I didn’t know what I was looking for but bloody hell was I looking! I tried attending educational services like carb counting and asking about support groups for people my age. But I was told there was nothing for me because on paper, I had type 2 diabetes and not type 1. Everyone in the waiting rooms at my clinic were generations apart from me. Needless to say, I didn’t make many new d-buddies there. But then I found out about Diabetes Camp Victoria, and my life changed.

Going on my first camp as a volunteer was the most liberating experience I’ve ever had. I found a new family – my diabetes family. They welcomed me with open arms and took my under their wing. Suddenly, I had a group of people who understood my frustrations with diabetes. They opened my eyes to the world of type 1 diabetes and to say I learned a lot that week of camp was an understatement. They didn’t let diabetes stand in their way of life. No way! They have accepted it as being part of their lives and carried on doing what they want. To say that these guys were inspirational is also an understatement.

Since discovering camps, I’ve also discovered the diabetes online community (DOC) through blogging and joining the twitter sphere. All I can say is that some the achievements that these guys have accomplished has my mind blown! The DOC is such a supportive and warm environment. Even during times of controversy within the community, we are always there for each other. And can I just say the DOC has kicked some serious troll butts in the past! Just goes to show that you should don’t mess with diabetics! Ever! And because the DOC reaches out worldwide, there is always someone online willing to keep you company while treating that 3am hypo. The DOC never sleeps!

Another thing I would credit the DOC for is for being my inspiration and motivation to keep pursuing my research and studies. Young adults with type 2 diabetes are definitely a minority and sometimes they feel like they aren’t being heard. Having been in a similar situation, I’m determined to help them by being a voice. I’ve always liked helping and educating others and now I am very much looking forward to giving back as much as I can to a community who has helped me out by reminding me of all the good things embedded in life with diabetes. And I think it’s for that very reason that I refuse to swap my ‘chronic condition’ for any other!

My Diabetes Inklings

Diabetes Blog Week – Day 3 – Memories

Day 3 – Share your most memorable diabetes day.

I remember the initial panic of sitting in my endo’s office and being told that the tablets weren’t working. We needed to move onto injections. I was really upset because I had been working extremely hard while being on the tablets and being told that I needed to go on insulin made me feel defeated. I think this is something that most people with type 2 diabetes experience when they start on insulin. That feeling of guilt and anger at yourself for not doing enough.

Yet there was a part of me that knew, subconsciously, that I had done everything I could. I woke up at the crack of dawn every weekday to head to the gym to do either a spin or bodypump class. They were all intensive classes that left me sweating like a mushrooms that haven’t been stored in a paper bag (possibly the worst analogy ever?). I was obsessive over what I ate and reduced my portion sizes dramatically. I felt like I was starving myself at one point. I knew this wasn’t a lifestyle I could sustain. But was there more I could have done to prevent going on insulin, or even diabetes altogether?

We hear it everywhere – that type 2 diabetes can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle with healthy eating. We’ve grown up with it – that it’s our fault we have type 2 diabetes because we haven’t looked after myself. But I never expected to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 19. When I’ve been physically active and eat fairly well. I did a pretty damned good job of looking after my health at that age, when most of my friends were out partying, clubbing and drinking. I couldn’t comprehend why or how this was happening. Sometimes, genetics just sucks!

I guessed how I felt came through because my endo reassured that I was doing an amazing job on my part but my body is just stubborn. The insulin will just help make things easier for me and manage my sugars much better too. There was no point in working myself to the ground just to manage my sugars and let diabetes dictate my life. And I agreed. I was given the choice between starting on a Mixtard twice a day or Basal/Bolus four times a day. And what happened next felt like a major turning point for me. Instead of having my endo determine what regime I was going to do, I sat up a bit straighter and said confidently ‘Let’s try having it twice a day and if it the numbers still don’t budge, we can do four times a day.’

Did I just have a say in my diabetes management? Did I just choose to go insulin? This endo is so sneaky! He immediately sat back, smiled and said alright let’s do it.

It’s been three and a half years since I started on insulin and I’m now on the basal/bolus regime and I haven’t looked back since. My Hba1c took a dramatic dive from the high 9s to 6s since starting insulin and I’m much more relaxed with the things I eat. It has taken me a long time to stop feeling the guilt and anger of my diagnosis and accept the fact that I do have diabetes (whatever the type may be). I can’t do much about it but to move on, manage it the best I can now and live my life to the fullest! To diabetes dictating lives, Ashley says no! (Cringe factor of a 100 for that corny statement!)