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Showing posts from 2017

Anxiety: the silent saboteur

As it's mental health month and today is focused on anxiety I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk about anxiety specifically. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. Check out Beyond Blue for information https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/what-causes-anxiety

Anxiety disorders are so often written off as ridiculous. Stop worrying. Stop over thinking.
My personal favourite? Don't stress.

Yeah look, if it were that easy I wouldn't have been paying for 6 years of treatment.

We all experience anxiety. That rush of adrenaline, that worry about a big job interview. But it becomes a problem when you're anxious chronically, with no particular trigger, and your anxiety is impacting your day to day functioning.

I have an anxiety disorder that's a mix of many characteristics of different things. Over the years it's presented in different ways. As a kid I was so perfectionistic I would cry if I couldn't do something righ…

A Conversation

"How are you?"
This morning I felt like my limbs were made of cement which made it really hard to get up, my sugar's high now, I'm tired all the time and would like to be in bed right now. Fan-flippin-tastic.
I smile widely "I'm good thanks, how are you?"
"Good thanks!"

We chat for a moment, it's pleasant.

"Well I'm heading off, nice to see you"
"You too" I smile and wave.
Again with the smiling. What am I, a Cheshire cat? Did I put them off in that conversation? I hope I didn't say something stupid. I was awkward wasn't I? I'm such an idiot. They're not thinking about this at all... stop thinking Bec.

I walk to my car. I dropped everything off earlier so have nothing in my hands.
Stand up straight. Honestly why is this so hard for you? What am I supposed to do with my hands? I have nothing to hold on to. It's mildly impressive I manage to make walking look uncoordinated.
I get in, put it in reverse…

JDRF Australia Type 1 Summit

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Last Sunday I attended the first Australian Type 1 Diabetes Summit. It was an event bringing together experts in t1 to discuss research, technology, emotional wellbeing and general management. But more than that, it was an event bringing together people with type 1 and their families.

Three main highlights from the outset:

1) There were talks for all ages. It feels like everything t1 related is for young kids and adolescents, so it was a nice change to have an adult focus.
2) It was in Parramatta! Good old Western Sydney finally getting a turn for the big events.
3) It was affordable. $15 for a ticket was reasonable for what I got out of the day.

I went to the summit alone, which for me was a pretty big deal! Yes, I spent the first 45 minutes shaking and texting my friend "WHAT WAS I THINKING I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MINGLE WITH STRANGERS WHO DIDN'T COME ALONE". It was pretty weird to be in a foyer full of people with t1/linked to t1 in some way. It's relatively rare …

On the topic of same sex marriage

I've been wanting to write this for some time, but I've been afraid to. I've been afraid to because I don't like conflict. I don't like to cause a fuss, or say something that may cause someone else to take offence. But disagreement is a part of life. Not talking about things makes them seem bad, and I don't think there is anything bad about this. I'm really passionate about this, and I'm ashamed I hesitated to discuss it.
A very non diabetes post: let's talk about same sex marriage.

For some context, Australia is holding (what I believe is a voluntary) vote on whether or not same sex marriage should be made legal. The fact there is a vote at all is something I have mixed feelings about. I think it opens up a really nasty field where there is the potential for a lot of hurt and hatred on both sides of the debate. It also means the loudest people are the ones heard. I question why we think we should be able to pass judgement on whether same sex marri…

T1 and Uni Life Survival Guide

I have a lot of different roles, one of them is a uni student. I've been at the uni thing for 4 years now (which is a little mind blowing when I think about it) so it's fair to say I have a decent idea on how it goes. Having had t1 for the duration of my uni degree I've accumulated my fair share of tips and tricks. 
It's certainly not easy managing a chronic condition and an intense uni degree. My degree isn't just lectures and readings, it's also placements. Many placements. Placements that don't end when the work day does. Placements and lectures and tutorials and big assignments. Add in 3 jobs, voluntary work and a hobby for good measure and it gets a little crazy sometimes! But it's possible to handle if you keep these in mind:
1) Eat. Seriously. If you're inclined to power on through the day and forget about lunch, that's a recipe for a hypo. I know these things. I forget to eat a lot. I went well over 6 hours without eating once when I was…

Speech Pathology Week 2017

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Happy Speech Pathology Week!

It's the week where your local speechies are far too excited about getting you to try thickened fluids because yes, we assess and treat swallowing too!

Why am I excited?
I'm a 4th year student speech pathologist.

What's that and does it involve blood?
No, the pathologist part means we study, diagnose and treat disorders relating to speech, language, voice, stuttering, swallowing and more. We treat everyone from newborns to the elderly.

Quick surface level breakdown:

- Speech= the sounds we make

- Language= the words we use, how we put them together and how we understand others

- Literacy= reading (decoding words and understanding what you read) and writing (spelling and putting ideas together)

- Voice= loudness, pitch, quality (is it rough? is it excessively nasal?)

- Stuttering= repetitions of sounds, words and phrases, blocks in speech or prolongations (stretching out a sound or word)

- Swallowing= where we try and prevent food and drink going…

A Reminder

We often talk about diabetes being a constant. It's always there in the back of your mind. Typically, this isn't such a big deal and I don't spend every moment thinking about it. It's rare that I resent it for being there. 
But sometimes it has terrible timing. My nan passed away recently, and when I found out in the car, my pump alarmed with a high sugar. It was 20 (normal range is 4-7). I didn't care. The thought of winding down the window and throwing my pump on to the freeway crossed my mind. Not even joking, Tonks is lucky to be in one piece.
My sugars have always reacted strongly to my emotions. I like to think I hide it reasonably well most of the time. But having a CGM (24/7 sugar sensor) means it's a dead giveaway when I'm nervous, stressed or upset- I alarm. Don't get me wrong, I love having a CGM and really couldn't do without it now, but it's frustrating. I can't experience an emotion without having my diabetes there, wanting my …

T1 Talk: Emotion isn't a dirty word

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Welcome back to T1 Talk, a blog series created by Frank and I about life as young Aussies with T1, on opposite sides of the country. This is Part 2 of our latest topic on management of food, exercise and emotions in relation to T1. You can find Part 1 over on Frank's blog here.
Here we discuss a topic many of us avoid: feelings. Let's shine some light on the emotional impact of T1. We’ve discussed many different aspects of management across the blog series. Managing T1 is not an easy task. How do you manage the emotional impact of the condition? Bec:Initially, I handled my diagnosis like this:


I would have told you I handled it well and just got on with life. I thought I was fine. I was someone who sought perfection and basically got it for a while with my diabetes care. But with time, increasing life demands and some really shocking years I’ve fallen down. So not processing stuff? I completely get that. Right now I’m starting to realise I do have emotions about my diabetes diagno…

VLOG: How does the pump work?

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As National Diabetes Week continues I thought I'd address one of the most common questions I get; how does the insulin get from the pump and into you? I never do a great job of explaining it so here's a demonstration video going through all the bits and pieces involved. This process varies by the type of set you use and model of pump but I'd say the principles are the same. I repeat this process every 3 days. I sometimes find it more painful than injections but once every 3 days is a lot better than having 4 injections a day!

If you have type 1 and are considering a pump I hope this demystifies the process for you. I've been on it for over 6 years and remember finding no resources on what a set change looked like before I started. I hope this helps. Of course I'm not a diabetes medical professional and these are my own views and methods of changing a set.

This is my second and final vlog. Hope the change was a good one!




I mentioned I'd upload photos but the mac …

VLOG: National Diabetes Week

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Hello hello! It's National Diabetes Week here in Australia and taking inspiration from Frank at Type 1 Writes I've decided to have a crack at vlogging.

Scary.... I know.

I believe the best way to raise awareness is through sharing stories, so here's mine. Apologies in advance for the blank gazes and "um's". Apparently, being a speech pathology student doesn't mean you're immune to presentation anxiety. Woops.

In the vlog I say I'm not a big fan of National Diabetes Week. I think it's a wonderful idea and the messages are fantastic. But I really dislike how it is pitched toward complications a lot of the time. There must be a better, more encouraging way. I hope sharing stories is an example of that.



Tomorrow I'll be posting a vlog on how my insulin pump works as part of raising awareness. Keep an eye out for that slightly less cringe worthy vlog!

Edit: I've now seen the video for t1. Fantastic and much better message! I wish the t2 vid…

An example

During a recent OzDOC chat on Twitter, a point came up about whether it's our role to be a constant advocate and educator on t1. Whether we need to "properly" represent t1.

I would argue no, it's not, but I often feel like I'm an access point to t1. Often, I'm the first person someone has met with t1 and I'm very aware that what they see is likely what they take away about the condition. I'm becoming increasingly aware I'm not always a shining example like I used to be. Lately I think people around me have seen people with t1 as having constantly fluctuating levels, tiredness, sensor alarms going off constantly. I've projected that having t1 means instability. Perhaps they think I'm somewhat fragile, fluctuating between extremes. That's not the message I want to convey about people with t1 though. I want non diabetics to see that we function normally and manage it well. I want people to see that it doesn't limit me in any way.

Not …

Failure

Over the years I very rarely had the sense that my diabetes and mental health was in charge, that it had me beat. I'm all about holding power over my condition. After all, I love control. My management of my T1 was impeccable for years because of this. Over time I've slipped, mostly when my anxiety and depression worsened. But even with those ups and downs I never felt I'd lost the battle. That was until I failed a clinical placement early this year.
My placement was for 6 weeks in a regional town a few hours drive from home. I was living alone, and entered placement feeling already highly anxious (and truth be told, depressed). My diabetes reacts to my emotions quite strongly, so my sugars were sky high from the start. It was a hard placement and I was set on doing everything perfectly. Every session plan had to be perfect. Every child I saw needed to have the perfect session with the perfect therapy targets and activities. My assessments were planned meticulously. The t…

T1 Talk: Managing the Unmanageable (Part Two)

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Welcome back to T1 Talk, a blog series between Frank and I about life as young Aussies with T1, on opposite sides of the country. This is Part 2 of a 2 part topic on managing the unmanageable: Type 1 Diabetes. You can find Part 1 over on Frank's blog here. We'll pick up where we left off:
Pens or Pump? Which one do you use, and why do you continue to stick with it? Bec:For readers of my blog, pens is another term for injections of insulin. Yes, they really look like pens! Check out this post for a rundown of diabetes tools (fair warning, it's beyond outdated).
I was on injections for under a year. I loathed them, not because of pain but because of teen embarrassment. I moved to the pump very early on and haven’t looked back. It’s been over 6 years of pump therapy and I’d be flat out working out how to live off injections if required. Bit of a worry actually, I’m very reliant on the pump now. Frank: That’s interesting, and probably highlights our age gap between diagnosis. I ne…

D Blog Week 2017: More than Diabetes

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"Lets wrap up the week by sharing a little more about ourselves, beyond the chronic illness we or our loved ones live with.  Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU.  If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can. Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes!"

It's always sad when blog week comes to a close, but this year we've ended on a fantastic topic. So much of my online presence and my work in health advocacy is about my diabetes. I don't begrudge that at all because I've chosen to take on the role of a health consumer advocate. But behind all the awareness stuff I'm also a person. My t1 is a pretty big part of it, but there's more.

I'm a pianist, albeit one with poor timing. I've been playing for 14 years. It doesn't look or sound like it most of the time, but I have fun. This is the beginning of a song called Bumble Bo…

D Blog Week 2017: What Brings Me Down

"Today let’s revist a prompt from 2014 - May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?"

Diabetes Blog Week was the first time I spoke properly about mental health on my blog. You can read that post here. I was absolutely terrified about posting that.I'm quite proud of 2015 Bec, but looking back it makes me laugh. Mostly because I was insistent that I hadn't experienced burnout or depression. Oh the denial. So it feels like coming full circle back to this prompt. Diabetes is by nature an emotional experience. Shifts in blood sugar change your mood. Sleep deprivation changes your mood. 

T1 is a chronic condition. It never goes away. It never gets better. Sometimes it gets worse. That is the shitty nature of a chronic condition. It's a chronic condition that c…