They’re taking over.

Who is taking over?

The anti-food brigade. The I Quit Sugar brigade.  The paleo brigade. The “gluten is evil” brigade. Every bloody brigade that takes its food philosophy from an uneducated and unqualified celebrity “health expert”.

A google search does not a health expert make.

This way of thinking is taking over the minds of the people that are in my life. A close friend told me she was going off fruit, “because of the sugar”. Someone else told me that gluten is “poisonous”, and that eating dairy “kills you slowly from the inside”. The amount of times I have bitten my tongue when I’m sitting in a  group of people discussing food is huge – the fact that my tongue is still attached speaks volumes of the self control I have exerted.

I leave the room. I change the subject, I sink into myself and focus on my phone – I do everything I can to distance myself from it, but when it’s sneaking through my environment like a particularly noxious fog, it gets harder and harder to ignore.

I just get so FRUSTRATED – they are taking this “knowledge” from people who don’t know what they’re talking about! It irks me more because I have no choice but to know exactly what I’m eating – the only people that are more educated than me about the stuff on my plate are dietitians. I have countless rants with a dietitian friend of mine about this subject – why do people feel the need to ignore years of research into food, which essentially says “everything in moderation”, and instead eat in  a way that is essentially a crash diet? Why would you willingly create a disordered eating pattern for yourself?

Additionally, what is it about these diets that make them want to tell you about the evils of whatever you’re eating? They’re like food missionaries, determined to convert you! Leave me alone, what you put in your mouth is your business, I don’t care.

I want them to take food as food – it is there to nourish you, and to enjoy. I don’t have that choice, I have to know what is in everything to dose myself correctly.

Stop telling me that my apple is full of sugar, or that carbs are bad for me. Stop talking about how fat you are when you weigh 20kgs less than I do, and how fat people are ‘disgusting’. Stop telling me that illnesses can be cured by cutting out sugar. Just stop, take a breath, and choose to eat intuitively and with no analysis.

You have that choice, so make it.

Yes I can eat that!

Who went to Miss Marples, ordered a hot fudge caramel sundae, and ended up with a blood sugar reading of 6.6 ninety minutes later? This gal. Just call me Wonder BGL Woman. 

I had no idea it would be that huge, and granted I only finished half of it, BUT I tucked into it with my pump on my hip, and an intentional disregard for how many carbs and calories were in my lunch. I don’t care, let me enjoy the taste and my external pancreas will take care of the rest! 

This week, dig into something that you are told is “bad” for diabetics to eat, and observe how happy you feel. My feet have not fallen off yet from my Wednesday treat, so I think you should be ok!  

I feel everything

I feel everything.

I feel the insulin seeping into my body as I press a button on an external organ, pumping in life and stinging as it enters.

I feel the guilt as I calculate a dosage that is over “normal”, over what my pump tells me is “correct”.

I feel the shame and confusion as my weight creeps upwards, despite every effort, and I am told by doctors and specialists to “eat less”, “exercise more”, and “don’t you want to get this under control?”

I feel the shaking of my hands and the wobble in my voice as I breathe in and out, willing myself to just insert the stupid cannula, “get it over and done with and you won’t have to do this again for three more days”.

I feel the sting as another piece of metal pierces my skin, and the dull pain that seems to pulsate through my stomach and hips, as though it’s berating me for doing this to my body yet again.

I feel the bumps and scars on my skin from five years of injections, insets, and infections, red and raised, as though my pancreas has decided to claim its territory on the outskirts of my body, having lost its autonomy on the inside.

I feel the embarrassment as I raise my arms to write a lesson aim, and a student sees an infected pump site on my hip. “Miss, did something bite you?”

I feel the fatigue as I drag myself out of bed at 6am, trying to teach 125 kids how to write after having spent the wee hours of my morning peeing and vomiting, and considering whether I would get more rest if I just slept on the toilet.

I feel the red hot flush of anger as I’m told that I’m not in control. I feel this anger slowly seep through my body like a warm tide, my body turns to syrup, and static noise fills my ears as I’m berated for trying my hardest. What’s the point in trying your hardest when neither your body nor the people around you acknowledge it?

I feel the hope when someone takes my hand and softly says “I know you’re trying, I know that this is all your body will let you do right now”, and the cool tips of their fingers as they squeeze my hand in a promise of solidarity.

I feel the tears roll down my face and my throat tighten, trying to remember those words as I look at yet another “HI” screaming at me from a meter I try to ignore.

I feel the fear, settling in amongst my thoughts like a thick fog in the early hours of the morning, growing ever thicker as another high refuses to budge.

I feel the gnawing sense of dread, praying my body will carry me through, that I will find a way to halt my organs destroying themselves, that I’ll die old and happy, not young, sick, and scared.

When it’s been five years, and nothing seems to be improving, I feel everything. 

Sunday Afternoons

set changeWhat do you do on a Sunday afternoon? I take fifteen minutes to insert one needle, because it’s BIG AND IT STILL SCARES ME. I have had type 1 diabetes for five years and needles still scare me every time. My hand shakes and my chest gets all tight, I’m so silly. The irony is not lost on me, I assure you.

My educator has flagged me to try a CGM for free in a few weeks and I am so excited! Exposure to something I will never be able to afford, and a way to track my levels and find out why I have such crap insulin resistance? Yes please!

“Month One”

Tonight I was babysitting two kids, one of whom has type 1.

I tested him post dinner, then before bed, then an hour post bed because he’d been running around like crazy and I had a gut feeling he would shoot down.

I was right. 15 point something down to 6 in an hour,

This boy is still very newly diagnosed and on injections (syringes), so I tried to get food into him to keep him stable overnight…
Anyone who is a parent of a child with type 1 or who has worked on type 1 camps before knows that this is a lot easier said than done. Kids get distressed, they don’t seem to know who you are or why they’re being asked to drink orange juice and crackers in the middle of the night – and who can blame them? I wouldn’t want a nanny forcing juice down my throat at 2am.

This gorgeous little six year old looked at me and completely lost it. At first it was your classic “ahhh who is feeding me what is going on” whimper, but then it morphed into something else altogether. I saw this switch happen in his head. He grabbed onto his pillow and started sobbing, these huge sobs from deep down in his belly that just made my heart ache. I’ve been babysitting/nannying for a very long time, so I like to think that I know the difference between a tantrum cry and a legitimate cry, and this cry made me want to kick this kid’s diabetes right out of the window.


He cried like I cry when diabetes has well and truly screwed up something (like the time I went low without warning while driving on the freeway and was nearly hit by a truck as I tried to pull over to the emergency lane). It’s that cry when you’re just bloody OVER it and you can’t be bothered dealing with its shit anymore. It’s the cry that takes over your entire body – the heavy feeling in the middle of your chest that feels like a cold lump of anger and fear (the lump that we expertly put away and deal with most of the time) rises up and seems to take over your whole head, if only for a moment. Basically, it’s the cry that we all have in that month or so after diagnosis, when it finally hits you that all this bullshit, these middle of the night hypos and constant injections, is for life, and that there is nothing you can do about it. It’s what I call the “Month One” cry. 

I shed a little tear as I sat there, rubbing his back with one hand and texting his mother with the other. He is only six years old, but everyone I’ve spoken to with type 1 diabetes has gone through this, as well as the parents of the kids. I have only met this kid three times, but the look on his face when we test together(and high five when we get nearly matching BGL numbers) is one that I want to see on his face more often, not this heartbreaking look of “I hate everything about this, make it stop” that I saw on his face tonight. It’s the same look you see on diabetes camps where a kid has had to miss out most of the final night disco because of constant lows, or when they’re so high  that they can’t do anything but lie there, drink water, and talk to you about how much diabetes sucks. It’s the look you wish you never had, but which makes an appearance a few times a year, when diabetes just SUCKS.

Month One is a bitch, and I wish there was something we could do to fast forward parents and kids through that massive learning curve. Once you come out the other side you learn to deal with the highs and lows (both literal and figurative!), and life is a different sort of normal. If anyone comes up with something like that, please let me know, because I want to run around Melbourne and sprinkle it over all the families that are going through this month of hell.

It gets so much better, and so much brighter.

Kim Vlasnik just made me cry

IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY. All good crying, I swear. Watch this video – if you have type 1 diabetes, make sure you have tissues. Kim blogs at Texting My Pancreas and is one of my favourite diabetes bloggers. She is so eloquent, and the emotion that comes through in her voice truly reflects the truth of what she is saying. She has delved right into that part of herself where many of us with type 1 diabetes prefer not to go, and all my congratulations and hugs go to her, because that is a very hard and brave thing to do!

If you’re somewhere where you can’t watch it, Kim puts into words what many of us cannot. She talks about the hardest part of diabetes – not the needles or the inevitable complications (because sometimes diabetes doesn’t care how hard you try), but how diabetes makes us feel about ourselves. SERIOUSLY watch the video, if you’ve ever thought I’m too sensitive about diabetes jokes or think that I make diabetes “too big” of a deal, WATCH THE DAMN VIDEO.

There is no feeling like the one of living with this pervasive illness that we never get a break from. Ever.

Yet the people who make this possible, who make it possible to keep positive, happy, and hopeful, and live life to the absolute fullest, are the ones who we meet who have it as well, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t stretched out and found my diabetes family.

There’s Georgia, a diabetic friend who is also my housemate, and who only last night with my other awesome housemate calmed me down and threw out my bloody tissues while I bled like a freaking waterfall from an infected pump site (seriously it did not stop for a good five minutes). Someone who replies at the same time as me to our dietitian housemate’s question of “What do you guys do when you drink alcohol”, with “DRINK AS MUCH AS WE CAN”. please drink responsibly .

My diabetes camp family, who I’ll only see once or twice a year but who, for a week, make me feel totally normal again, where I’m just Georgie, not Georgie-who-has-diabetes. I can have hypos and no-one freaks out, and no questions are asked if I pee 10 times in one hour (“High?” “High” “Ew, you flush those ketones girlfriend”)

The people I’ve met through events, online, and fundraisers, who send me snapchats of them guzzling litres of water with the hashtag #ketones, or a photo of their 5.5 (#winningatlife #bowdowndiabetes #iamyourmaster).

OzDoc – the diabetes mums I’ve gained and the encouragement and support from these guys is amazing. There are no words.

Peer support, as Kim said in her talk, is as important as the insulin we take. Peer support literally saved my life, and it has to be valued by those in the healthcare profession. The psychosocial aspects of diabetes can (in my opinion) make or break you, and it’s only through engaging with other people like us and hearing “Me too”, that we can gain the strength needed to keep up that positivity we need to kick diabetes in the butt.


Friends as Health Care Professionals

Writing a massive post to compensate for three months of nothing. Sorry team, life is crazy.

I’m at that age now where most of my friends have graduated university/are in their final year.

More than half of my friends have gone into healthcare – nursing mostly, but there are some physios, dietitians, doctors, and paramedics sprinkled throughout there as well. I like to bluff my way through conversations with their uni friends and see how long it takes them to figure out that I’m not a nurse or dietitian #diabetesperks.

In the past four years, it’s been really interesting to watch how people that I have been friends with for years have gradually reacted to my diabetes. When I was diagnosed, it was the last year of high school and we were all too focused on getting into uni. It fell into the background, thank god.

But I can always tell now when they’ve had a lecture on something that involves diabetes, or had a patient with diabetes, because the next time they see me their eyes will widen, they’ll grab my hand, and say something like “Please look after yourself, we saw a diabetic foot infection and I nearly spewed”.

There are fantastic parts to this – a friend I’ve known since I was 4 years old is finishing up her nursing degree, and she’ll blurt out things like “I saw someone with kidney failure today, I love you, please keep plugging away at those BGLs” then give me a massive hug. One of my best friends is a physio – she keeps Diet Coke/Coke Zero in her fridge at all times for me, texts me when yet another blood test strip turns up under her sofa cushion, and will expertly steer a conversation with other HCP friends away from the ‘exciting’ topic of t1d and pregnancy if I am in the room (it scares me). My friends know about the basics* – I don’t have to try and explain why I’m acting weird if my blood sugar is low, they’ll just throw me a juice box and continue chatting, which is 100% perfect!

I feel like I’m in a really fortunate position, because I can influence how my friends interact with their patients as healthcare professionals – they KNOW me, I am a person to them, and so when they walk into a room and their patient has type 1 diabetes, I’d like to think they have that little bit of extra empathy. My friends have seen me hypo, they’ve seen the pump and injection bruises on my stomach, and they know that it’s a disease that’s not to be joked about. They call their other HCP friends out for me, they’re amazing. What’s more, they always want to learn – they ask me about my diabetes in general, about my carb counting,  how temp basals work. and I love it. To my knowledge, they’ve always aced the questions on exams about diabetes! 

However, there are crap parts to this as well. It’s not my friends, it’s their friends. Remember what I said about bluffing my way through nursing talks? Yeah, having HCP friends gives you an insight into how other nurses, doctors etc. talk about patients. I totally understand they need to blow off steam – hell, the shit they have to put up with (figuratively AND literally) is insane, they do an incredible job. But hearing nurses make fat diabetes jokes is only fun when I pull my meter out and watch them squirm uncomfortably and say “But we didn’t mean YOU”.

I find med students are the worst though – not so much joking about the patients, but thinking that they know everything. I was sitting with some friends at uni in first year, and there were some of their friends there who I didn’t know. I pulled my meter out to test, and without even asking, one of them leaned over, looked at my BGL and went “That’s pretty high, you should really be taking care of yourself better”… my BGL was in the 9s… WTF BUDDY YOU HAVE BEEN IN MED SCHOOL FOR THE GRAND TOTAL OF 8 WEEKS STFU.

Saying that though, I am so lucky to be in the position where I can influence future healthcare professionals just by being their friend and happening to have type 1 diabetes. I am lucky to have friends like I do, that are fantastic healthcare professionals but also fantastic friends. If you live in Australia and end up in hospital, where a nurse doesn’t tell you off for a 8.5, or stands up to the doctor when they insist you disconnect and go onto a sliding scale of insulin even though you’re only in to get your wisdom teeth out, they’re probably one of my friends.

*not just my HCP friends, I have some other non HCP friends who are fantastic, shout out to Dais, Corks, and all the girls I lived with in the UK. x