Frank: Diabetes Online

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When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

I was diagnosed with type 1 at age 17. The doctor that I went to see failed to diagnose my initial symptoms, and a few days later I ended up in hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis. I’m glad it happened that way, because it connected me to the diabetes clinic at my hospital. I’m not sure if I would have received the same support otherwise. I was also really happy that all my symptoms were gone, so having diabetes didn’t feel like a huge setback. I’m not sure how well I would have reacted to the news if I was diagnosed in the doctor’s office and sent home.

IMG_4266What is your greatest daily struggle?

Food. I have a reasonably healthy diet, but I struggle with the snacks and temptations in between. I’m a terrible sweet tooth. I could easily eat a whole block of chocolate if it was acceptable, and I have become a bit obsessed over finding the perfect Cannoli. I grew up eating junk food every day after school, and it’s been a difficult habit to break since being diagnosed with diabetes.

Has diabetes ever affected your schooling or career?

I count myself very lucky that I was diagnosed after I had finished High School. Although having diabetes in school might have forced me to be a little more open about my condition than I am now. I have definitely drawn upon my Marketing and Communications degree in building my diabetes blog and online presence. I’ve become extremely passionate about diabetes advocacy through my blog, and I would love to make a career of it someday.

How has blogging affected your diabetes management? 

Before I started my blog, I knew nothing about diabetes beyond my own ability to live with and manage it. I never would have guessed that there was even such a thing as the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). Joining the blogosphere and the DOC really ignited my passion for blogging and diabetes advocacy. I love blogging because it makes me think about my diabetes management every day. It’s nice to have my own space to vent, and I find it therapeutic being able to reflect on a situation when I’m in a better headspace. I feel the best about my diabetes in 2015 than I have in any other year, and I credit that to blogging and IMG_3998interacting in the DOC. The people in the DOC provide a daily source of support, inspiration and motivation. I barely know anyone with diabetes in real life, so it’s nice to have somewhere to talk with people who just “get” it. And I really relate to these guys because they aren’t celebrities or athletes…they’re ordinary people living with diabetes, just like me.

What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person? 

I would tell them about the wonderful Diabetes Online Community. I would encourage them to create a Twitter account. Join in weekly support chats such as #OzDOC and #DSMA. They’re a great place to introduce yourself and make connections with other people with diabetes. Read diabetes blogs and take an interest in the diabetes world. There’s so much valuable information and support out there to gain. I really wish I had found the DOC a lot sooner than I did.

Has there been a moment in your life when you were grateful for having diabetes?

I don’t know if I would ever say I’m grateful for having diabetes, but I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come from it. I am finally living my dream of being a successful writer every day through my blog thanks to diabetes. I was really proud to be able to advocate for access to test strips in Australia through my column for Insulin Nation. It even resulted in a small policy change from Diabetes Australia. I also feel really fulfilled to have a purpose and passion beyond my day job.

Read more articles from Frank by following his blog Type 1 Writes and keep up to date on twitter @FrankSita. You can also learn more about Frank by liking his Facebook page!  

Michael: “Data save lives and limbs”

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When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes? 

2002, diabetes mellitus type 2

What are your greatest daily struggles?

I was diagnosed at age 52. A conventional analysis would say I had developed sedentary and overeating habits in childhood that drove the expression of a genetic predisposition to T2DM. An alternative analysis would suggest that undiagnosed childhood insulin resistance and neuropathy drove the development of those habits, and precipitated a vicious cycle. In either case, I have half a century’s habits that make me “more diabetic” unless I counter them with more-than-habitual activity and more strategic eating. For me, glucose data are a much better motivator of this discipline than are weight or even belt-notch data—which brings us to the struggle to obtain adequate testing supplies in the face of a government-insurance establishment that rations them to essentially useless levels. And by the way, when I manage glucose levels, the weight and waist-size numbers fall with them.

Have you found any good things about having diabetes?

I’m healthier now than when I was diagnosed. Had I continued along the behavioral path I was on before diagnosis, I might well be dead by now. Also, the research I started reading and evaluating to save my life contributed to my current career as a clinical research editor and interpreter.

What is the best advice you would give a newly diagnosed person? 

Data save lives and limbs. Learn how diet and exercise affect your glucose levels, and develop habits that nurture good levels. Nag, beg, wheedle, plead, demand, and save your pennies for adequate testing supplies to manage your condition. Accept additional medical help if your particular diabetes cannot be managed with diet and activity alone.

Does diabetes define who you are?

No.  It’s defined certain choices and possibilities in my life. That includes both limitations and opportunities.

Thank you Michael for the brave and inspirational responses. To learn more about Michael and keep up to date on his battle with diabetes follow his blog diabetes2remission.blogspot.com! You can also follow him on twitter for daily updates @T2DRemission

Ashley: A Dietitian with Diabetes

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When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

“My diagnosis is a long story. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when I was 19, but was told from the start I didn’t fit neatly into the type 1 or type 2 categories. It didn’t matter at first until I was told about the insulin pump. I realized then that our government only subsidized insulin pump consumables for people with type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes, I kept asking to be reclassified as a type 1 but was told I was in denial about my diabetes. Like what even? Eventually I found an endo who reclassified me based on a technicality that I am insulin deficient not resistant. So that was a major win. I’m currently looking into genetic testing to see if it’s MODY.”

Has diabetes ever affected your schooling or career?

“Diabetes hasn’t affected my schooling or career but it has definitely influenced it. Going through the health care system inspired me to get into diabetes education. I was diagnosed in my second year at university doing my undergraduate degree. I went on to explore research with an honours year, became a dietitian after my master’s degree and am now further pursuing research through a PhD in diabetes education for young adults.”

Why did you start blogging?

“I started blogging as way to de-stress and unwind. I like to write my thoughts and observations down. After becoming more involved in the diabetes community through volunteering, I started to write more about diabetes. Through there I found the Diabetes Online Community. I write to share my experiences of living with diabetes because it’s such an invisible thing to live with. Diabetes affects much more than blood glucose numbers and that’s important for people to understand.”

As a dietician have you mastered controlling highs and lows?

Graduation“Being a healthcare professional doesn’t exempt me from the rollercoaster that comes with diabetes. I still guess my carbs if I’m unsure of certain foods. I’m not perfect, I’m only human! And just because I’m a dietitian, doesn’t mean I survive on salads. It surprises people to know that I’m not a big fruit eater. It’s all about moderation.”

What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person? 

“Breathe. It’s not the end of the world. You can do this. You got this. And most importantly, you don’t have to get everything perfect. You are still allowed to make mistakes.”

What is your greatest accomplishment? 

“So many things on so many levels. Some days getting out of bed would be an achievement in itself. I guess doing developing my PhD topic and being able to work on it is one of my proudest achievements. I am extremely passionate in providing each person with diabetes appropriate education and resources to better cope with diabetes. I hope that my project will help to raise awareness of the different types of diabetes and integrate the type 1 and type 2 diabetes community as a whole a little bit better in terms of providing peer support.”

Read more by Ashley by following her blog bittersweetdiagnosis.com. You can also learn more about her on twitter @Health4Diabetes. If you are interested in guest blogging, contact us on twitter or read the contact info on the “About” page.