Slices of diabetes-life in 4 short stories

Through my friend who lives here in Sydney I had two contacts to make while here. One was with the General Manager (GM) of Diabetes Australia, no slouch there, although he was working in his wife’s candle shop when we met and absent shoes. Well, we are in Sydney mate. Diabetes Australia is the equivalent of the American Diabetes Association. Turns out after a nice chat he suggested I send him my new book when published this July, The 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life: And the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It, and he’ll get it to his media person to possibly distribute in Oz (that’s  Aussie-speak for Australia.)

The other meeting was with two mums of children with type 1. One is the mother of a five year old boy who had to be yanked out of public school because the principal didn’t want to deal with his diabetes and supply a nurse. Now the family are paying private school fees and she told me the law is very grey here as to what services a child is entitled to in regards to a school nurse. Actually the GM of Diabetes Australia said he’d be happy to advocate for her as last year Diabetes Australia took a case to court and won getting a type 1 ambulance driver’s job back. 

The other woman I met is the mother of an eight year old girl diagnosed almost a year ago. Since, she has become very involved in JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) here and inspired many others. It is interesting to sit a world away and share the same stories and feelings. And I knew beside sharing my knowledge and experience that just having these two women see someone who’s in as good shape as I am after living with type 1 37 years that they would gain something invaluable. The eight year old’s mum sent me this response after our breakfast by the beach:

Hi Riva, 
It was lovely to meet you and I take loads of comfort in meeting folk like you who play to win with diabetes. Sometimes I may sound too blasé about diabetes; it is a tough 24/7 disease but I refuse to let it take me and Emily (her daughter) down so I hang on to every positive role model that I can and I know that one day she too will be sitting with someone else over breakfast and be sharing her positive story on diabetes; so a huge thank you. 

Later that day I also met Emily’s dad who is an accountant by trade and has been working nose-to-the-grindstone on an algorithm whereby people who use a pump can better optimize how much to dose and how often to test their blood sugar. My husband came to this meeting as well and being a “systems” guy shared that when dealing with diabetes there are many complex systems to take into account in addition to meds, like food, exercise, stress and emotional resilience. 

Emily’s dad nodded his head, and perhaps gripped his graphs and charts a little tighter. I suspected that they were what was helping him feel he can have perfect control over something he can’t, diabetes, and feel he can protect his child. 

One day I’m pretty sure Emily will be the one to let her dad know that life is O.K and that she is O.K. even living with diabetes, and maybe even recognize that in some way she is “all the more” for what she goes through managing this disease.

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