Editor’s note: It has become usual for us to publish the latest Dr Rosemary Stanton blog at the beginning of the month, and then we got this great post from Ashley Ng of Bittersweet Diagnosis, and we just had to press publish! Don’t worry Dr Stanton will be back next week.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in early 2009. However, unlike typical individuals with this condition, I was young, lean, fit and healthy, which caused a bit of confusion for my local GP.
Unable to accurately diagnose and subsequently treat my diabetes, I was referred to The Alfred where I saw a diabetes specialist team consisting of an endocrinologist, a diabetes nurse educator and a dietitian.
My endocrinologist was stumped with my test results, and after hearing both my grandfathers have diabetes and my mother had gestational diabetes with my two younger sisters, he reluctantly diagnosed me as a type 2, but classed me as mature onset diabetes of the young (MODY*).
Managing my diabetes was extremely difficult but I was glad to have the support and encouragement of my family and medical team. I remember being sick with anxiety with the notion of having to tell my immediate family and close friends that I have diabetes. I was terrified at how this diagnosis would change my life.
Furthermore, the notion of having to take tablets every day for the rest of my life depressed me. Coupled together with the daily multiple finger prick tests and constantly seeing double digits appear on my meter made me angry at myself and wallow in self-pity.
I denied myself a lot of foods and became obsessed with what I ate in a bid to lower my glucose levels. I was also embarrassed and self-conscious to test myself and take my tablets in public for fear that people would think something was wrong with me. This anxiety increased when I was progressed onto insulin as the oral tablets did not seem to work very well.
My involvement with Diabetes Camps Victoria came whilst I was searching for volunteer work to boost my profile in order to get into a dietetics course. Even though I didn’t get the dietitian assistant position I was eyeing for, I was given the opportunity to become a leader on Senior Camp 2011.
Camp was an experience in itself enough to write another blog entry on! But the most important revelation I got out of it is that life goes on with any ‘condition’ you’ve been diagnosed with. You just work your way around it.
Having diabetes doesn’t mean that I have to restrict myself to have perfect blood sugar levels all the time. There will be some days I get a little lax and eat things I know I shouldn’t. But you know what? That’s ok!
Seeing kids and peers dealing with their diabetes has made me feel more comfortable about myself. I don’t have to be ashamed, embarrassed or shy to test myself and give myself insulin when I need to (by this time I was on a basal bolus regime with my Metformin, which gave me the best control).
Hearing everyone’s stories, struggles and triumphs on their journey has given me an additional support I never knew I needed. I am forever grateful to everyone involved in that camp for being so welcoming and accepting me into their ‘diabetes family’.
My ongoing journey has further fuelled my passion in nutrition and dietetics whilst being another arm of support to people with diabetes.
Currently, I’m doing my honours research in nutritional supplementation in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers before commencing my masters in dietetics next year. I hope to be able to work closely with patients with diabetes in the future, as it is not an easy road to be travelling down alone!
Ashley Ng, of Caufield, is 22 years young. She is currently halfway through her honours year at Deakin University looking at the effects of nutritional supplementation in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers. Ashley also works at the university as an academic support worker and student ambassador on the side. In her spare time (of which she has little) she enjoys driving out to national parks for walks and taking part in a variety of sports. She also plays clarinet in the Western Region Concert Band. In August they’re playing with Leo Sayer, which she is very excited about! Oh, and did we mention her rocking blog?
*MODY is a rare form of diabetes which is different from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and runs strongly in families. MODY is caused by a mutation (or change) in a single gene. If a parent has this gene mutation, any child they have, has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it from them. If a child does inherit the mutation, they will generally go on to develop MODY before the age of 25, whatever their weight, lifestyle, ethnic group etc.