Finding like-minded peers in the diabetes community and passionate and caring healthcare professionals has been crucial to my diabetes care.
How long have you been living with diabetes?
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when I was 19 years old.
How were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed after being ill with a sinus infection for over six months. Looking back, I do not think I had any symptoms. Or if I did, there was always a reason for them; I was tired because of my busy schedule or I naturally drank lots of water as I was health conscious and went to the toilet more frequently because of that.
Did your diagnosis come as a surprise to you?
Being told I had type 2 diabetes was a real shock. I did not think it would happen to me. I was scared to tell my family and embarrassed to tell my friends. At such a young age, I did not want to accept that I would need medication for the rest of my life. Over the years, the more I studied about the many different types of diabetes, the more I questioned my diagnosis. Eventually I was rediagnosed as having type 1b diabetes; I have insulin deficiency but with no other autoimmune markers.
What are the most important things that have supported your diabetes care?
Being diagnosed with diabetes was a difficult adjustment both physically and mentally, but I credit it for helping me live healthier. It was helpful that my family have been very supportive throughout my journey. Together, we started eating healthier and being more active, which has also benefited their lives. Finding like-minded peers in the diabetes community and passionate and caring healthcare professionals has also been crucial to my diabetes care. Having a strong support network was particularly important when managing my diabetes during pregnancy.
What has been your lowest point with diabetes?
The early years with diabetes were my lowest points as I struggled to understand and manage my condition. I believed that I could “cure” myself if I ate well and exercised. I therefore became very strict with my food and over-exercised to the point of exhaustion. I now realise that these were unhealthy and dangerous disordered eating behaviours. Thankfully, I fell into the care of some very empathetic doctors and health professionals who helped me find balance with my life and diabetes.
Have you ever experienced issues accessing diabetes medicines, supplies and care?
Living in Australia, I am lucky to have relatively easy access to care through the public and private healthcare system.
What would you like to see change in diabetes over the next 100 years?
Over the next 100 years, I would like to see greater accessibility and affordability when it comes to diabetes medication and technology worldwide. Facilitating access to credible and easy to understand diabetes information tailored to specific populations is also needed to combat misinformation and stigma around the condition. International collaboration between the diabetes community and government representatives, researchers, healthcare professionals, industry professionals and advocacy organisations is needed to make a difference.