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Living with diabetes

In this video, you will meet Beth and hear about her experience of being diagnosed with diabetes as a young adult and of living with type 1 diabetes.
It was about my 17th birthday. Well, I was at boarding school, and for some reason, they did a medical test. And this was about the March, and I was in year 12. I was a prefect here in Geelong at the Hermitage as a boarder. And urine tests– and everybody did urine tests– and then all of a sudden, mine seemed to have caused a problem. And my parents were notified. And the only thing I can remember was getting a bit thirsty. I was a senior. I was doing chemistry and physics at another school, and I was allowed to go to a corner shop on the way home. And I remember buying cordial because I was a bit thirsty.
I don’t remember feeling any other ill effects. But then, I had to go and have a blood test at the Geelong hospital. And they did a glucose test, which I think is fairly similar. You drink some fairly ghastly thing, and they wait some length of time and then work out whether you have got diabetes. And I had diabetes. I was then admitted to the Geelong hospital for a fortnight. And they worked out how much insulin I was to have. So away I went with the insulin and the diet plan, which was very European-type, meat-and-three-veg type of diet. And away I went back to boarding school. And I seemed to manage. How, I don’t know.
I love sport. I was in the hockey team. I think I remained in the hockey team as a back. I don’t think I did a great deal. But I have always loved sport. I’m very enthusiastic about sport. I remember not being able to sleep in my final year at school and being advised by the school nurse to walk around the hockey field to try and get me to be able to sleep– worrying about about how I was going to manage in my year 12 exams– matric, I think it was. Were you worried about the diabetes, as well? It was always there. Even from then, I knew I had to look after myself. I had to do the right thing.
But not a great deal. It was there. And I had to think about it. But other things were around, too.
Well, it’s– don’t let anything stand in your way, basically. It’s yes, Mum has diabetes. And it has impacted on her life, but really, she’s been active, and she’s been involved. And she’s encouraged us to be active, be involved, and look after yourself.
I’m very, very fortunate to still be able to drive. I passed my licencing when I knew I couldn’t. Yep, coming up 82, so she drives her car, and she comes off and visits me regularly. And that’s about a two- of three-hour drive for her. She brings her dog. She looks, and she spends a lot of time with grandchildren. ‘Clancy was sitting in a hot classroom.’ And she loves coming down, staying here. And my girls love having Gran around. And yes, she’s a very good babysitter. My advice to people is to get advice, to get medical advice, the best you can get. Believe your diabetes educators and do what they tell you, but you have to do it yourself.
It’s no good pretending someone else can give you insulin, work out your diet. It’s all up to you.
In this video you will meet Beth. You will hear about her experience of being diagnosed with diabetes as a young adult, and of living with type 1 diabetes for in excess of 60 years.
Beth’s description of her life with diabetes is an amazing journey and tells us not only about living with diabetes but also reflects the evolution of diabetes knowledge and management over that time.
Beth recalls her experience of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a 17-year-old student while attending boarding school in rural Victoria, Australia.

Your task

Watch the video of Beth describing her experience of living with diabetes. Beth finishes her story with ‘It’s all up to you’ as a piece of advice. Do you know of any particular decisions and plans that people with diabetes have to make in ensuring they look after themselves? Share your insights in the comments below.
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Demystifying Diabetes

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