Monthly Archives: December 2013

Je suis une diabétique

Explaining Type 1 Diabetes is always hard.
It’s even harder in your second language.

I meant to brush up on diabetes vocab before I came over here, but I got distracted by other things, like getting medication together, the WDC, and catching up on Modern Family. All extremely important things…

My host family were told that I have type 1 diabetes, but knowing is a whole lot different to understanding. I think it’s harder now that I’ve gained weight, because I look like what the media portrays ‘diabetes’ as…so when I say I can eat whatever I want, I hit doubt at every corner. “Are you sure? Are you sure?” I know it’s all coming out of concern and worry, but damn it’s annoying.

My host family is absolutely lovely, and I’ve hit the jackpot because they eat mostly organic and non processed foods (apart from cheese, oh my god I’ve missed French cheese). However, there have been a few hiccups, and not just with my diabetes.

The girls freaked out whenever I pricked my finger, so now I test in my bedroom. Normal Georgie wouldn’t do that, but I tried explaining and they can’t comprehend that I’m used to it. I think the blood also freaks them out a bit, I keep forgetting people actually have fears like that, it’s only been 3 1/2 years and blood is so normal to me now! When I was working in an English boarding school, the students did the same thing and I just brought out the teacher voice. I don’t have the capabilities in French yet to assertively explain what I’m doing in the right tone (I’ll either sound angry or patronising), so I’ve just decided to be one of those people I swore never to be and test away from people. It’s not worth upsetting them!

Explaining the pump was super hard. Did you ever learn the words for ‘basal’ ‘bolus’, ‘cannula’ or ‘subcutaneous’ in French class? Yeah, me neither. I ended up saying it was an artificial organ that I controlled, which the kids thought was incredibly cool. The youngest delights in telling me that I’m glowing through my t-shirt.

I’m really scared of hypo-ing here, so I’ve been conservative with my carb counting. I’m sitting around 7-10, and I refuse to budge from that. When I’ve left France and I’m living with Sam and Ces in Prato in a month, who know me and speak my language, I’ll aim for 5s, but right now I don’t think the world will end if I just chill up here in the 9s.

Oh also, my endometriosis made an appearance. That bitch. I knew it would, but I thought I was being sneaky taking all my painkillers the night before I thought I was due. Ends up they did nothing, at all. Sometimes they work, sometime they don’t even touch it. This month was one of THOSE months. My host mum came up to my room at 10am to find me rolling around clutching my stomach, crying from the pain and burying my head in the pillows. The poor woman, I think I terrified her. They were so nice, HM kept refilling my hot water bottle and trying to get me to eat while HK#2 sat next to me and put on Ice Age while intermittently stroking my hair and saying “T’as besoin de quelque chose?” (You need something?). It was the oldest kid’s birthday and I was upstairs in pain the whole day, I felt SO bad. They kept telling me “Don’t worry, it’s not your fault, it’s fine, we’re glad you’re ok now!” but I just feel terrible. They got a person with diabetes and a dodgy uterus. My body can go suck a dick (excuse the language, but it can).

It’s been a week and it’s all going well overall! My host family is lovely, the village is lovely, and I am loving the South of France because everyone is SO nice! It feels super weird to be writing in English, I’ve backspaced French words about once every minute while typing. I haven’t lost or destroyed my insulin yet, so fingers crossed it stays like that!

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World Diabetes Congress

For the past two days, I’ve been at the World Diabetes Congress as part of the Diabetes Australia Young Leaders program.

It was an incredible honour to be asked, and I have had the most incredible two days! I sat in on so many sessions, and my favourite was one on Social Media and diabetes, presented by Annelieke Overbeeke, an IDF young leader. However we sat through a complications talk that made me want to throw up. Head in the sand head in the sand. 

There are a few things that I’ve really taken home from this Congress.

The first is a renewed appreciation for how lucky we are in Australia. Sure, I may bitch about the cost of living with type 1 diabetes, but the important thing is that I will ALWAYS have access to medical supplies and medical care, and live under a government that subsidises most of my supplies (touch wood – if a political party tries to cut it I will personally stab them all with my syringes and then move back to the UK). Hearing  studies done in India and Africa, where the issue is not only the cost of insulin but access to it, as well as a lack of education, was incredibly sobering. To sort-of borrow an idea from Renza, it makes all the fuss about changing the name of type 1 diabetes a huge first world problem. There are bigger issues in diabetes than associated and undeserved stigma – let’s concentrate on fighting all types of diabetes and helping those less fortunate rather than having a bitch about a name shall we? 

The second is an increased love for the diabetes community. I didn’t think it could get any bigger, but it has! It really is indescribable, how quickly you bond with people, and the passion that you can nearly feel flying around the room. My lovely #OzDOC buddies and the new connections that I’ve made over the past 2 days are such an incredible group, it’s weird to think that 3 years ago I didn’t know any of these people. We’re a family. #dlove

Lastly, I’ve come away with not only a renewed passion for the work I want to do regarding diabetes and eating disorders, but also connections to help me do it, yay! Funnily enough, one of the DA Young Leaders who I have volunteered on a camp with has the same aim as me, but we hadn’t talked about it until the function last night. We now have each other to workshop with and make more connections, ring more people etc. which is incredibly exciting.

I am so grateful for this opportunity!! If I had my way I’d write a thesis on all the sessions and why they were important, however I leave the country in just over 48 hours, so I should probably go and pack. Clean my room. Pack. Man I hate packing.

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