Tag Archives: type 1 diabetes

DEDA minisode

On Sunday I did a short live minisode with Beta Change about diabetes and eating disorders. Although my internet connection was terrible (get ready to watch my face constantly freeze in unflattering positions) I think there is a quite a good overview in this video of the basics of what Lisa, Zo, and I do within DEDA. Take a look if you have a spare 20 minutes!

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Diabetes and feminism – yes, it’s a thing

The International Diabetes Federation is running a “Women and Diabetes” campaign this year, and there’s been some rumblings on social media.

“I feel so left out”

“How many BOYS has this condition”

“It reinforce stereotypes of females as the only ones who should/do provide care”

“Any theme that appears to negate a particular group’s experience will always be problematic”

Ok, before I go any further, let’s make one thing clear – repeat it, after me.

Advocating 👏for👏 one👏 group 👏does👏 not 👏discount 👏the 👏other

Changing the font of worksheets for my students with dyslexia isn’t ignoring the other kids in the class, it’s making life easier for the students who struggle. It’s the same with this – by focusing on one group of people one year, it’s not saying that all other groups aren’t worth looking at. This SHEro campaign is simply acknowledging that women living with diabetes are bloody brilliant, and that there is still more work to be done to dismantle the inbuilt societal structures that perpetuate inequality.

The thing about privilege is that it’s invisible to those who have it. I have never felt the micro-agressions or overt/covert racism that people of colour live with daily, because I’m a white woman. I have never been denied entry to a place or mode of transport because I physically wasn’t to access it, because I don’t have a physical disability that prevents me from moving. However, women face systemic discrimination in the health care system. If you are a woman and you haven’t encountered this, that’s INCREDIBLE (and you need to give me the number of all your HCPs immediately), however it’s an issue for many of us, and I think it’s a fantastic move by the IDF to acknowledge and recognise that we face barriers in our healthcare.

As Renza said in this fantastic blog post on this topic, “the campaign is not suggesting that men do not experience struggles when it comes to living with diabetes themselves, or are not involved and integral in the care of others living with diabetes.” If you actually LOOK through the campaign, you will not see a “MEN SUCK” poster anywhere, regardless of how much you want to.

I am over people in positions of privilege using their already prominent voice to drown out those who are in need of the focus, awareness, and advocacy. Saying ‘but what about the MEN’ completely detracts from the aim of this campaign, which is to highlight inequality and inequity of health outcomes for women. They could have just as easily chosen to run with the PWDs living in developing countries, who struggle to access insulin daily. They could have focused on people with ‘different’ types of diabetes – LADA, MODY,  etc. – who may not have the awareness and knowledge around their conditions. However, this year it’s women, and shouldn’t that be celebrated?

When you’re in a position of privilege, not being included feels like discrimination.

Recognise that privilege dudes, and work with us to dismantle the system that creates it. Read this for a simple explanation of the privilege you may face in daily life, and not even recognise (but just saying, if it takes this article – written by a man – to tell you “that male privilege is real and ubiquitous, then you just proved its power”.) Work every day to recognise it, understand how it’s held in place, then dismantle the HECK out of it. I try to do this every day with white privilege – if I can recognise that I unconsciously benefit from a system that is built around my needs and wants, surely you can too! I replace this mantra with ‘racism’, and damn it’s been useful at making me into a better person!

Sexism happens, I benefit from it, I am unavoidably sexist sometimes because I was socialized that way, and if I want to be anti-sexist I have to be actively working against that socialization 

I think a big issue that needs to be discussed this year is the fact that women face implicit bias in the healthcare system that undervalues symptoms and pain (read this , and this if you think I’m talking out of my butt, it’s not just my feminist ass saying this) . For women with diabetes, this sexism suddenly becomes more pronounced. We’re at the doctors a LOT, and as we all know, diabetes is nearly never the sole offender. Once you get one chronic illness, others decide to join it. We need healthcare professionals who take us seriously, ones who don’t discount our pain as ’emotional issues’ or assume that we can be treated the same as men. I experienced this when I was told by a doctor to ‘calm down’ when I was having an asthma attack. TELL THAT TO MY LUNGS BUDDY.

We also need intersectionality in this space – I’m in a position of privilege being white, women of colour with diabetes have so many more barriers to break down as well. If you’re LGBTQI+ in this space, it honestly sometimes just becomes downright hilariously bad (flashback to the chat with a doctor who couldn’t understand that being sexually active didn’t always mean a risk of pregnancy…). We need understanding from the whole community that this inherent bias is a valid problem, and we need collaboration. By people drowning out this campaign with complaints of “It’s not fair, men are heroes too!” they’re missing the entire point. We’re here to raise awareness and lift women UP, not drag men down. Use your position of privilege to elevate our voice – as a commenter (and diabetes dad) on the Diabetes Australia Facebook page said in response to the campaign announcement…

“I could not be more proud of my daughter, and am extremely happy that women are being recognised this year. It doesn’t mean men (and boys) aren’t important, but some of these comments suggest that at least some men are very precious little petals, which saddens me

Feminism benefits everyone – and to let it benefit everyone, you need to let us have our space.

 

Some of the fucking brilliant diabetes SHEroes in my life 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumps – they’re personal

There was an announcement today (yesterday? I’ve just returned from diabetes camp and after minimal sleep and maximum shenanigans, time is an illusion!) that Animas is out of business, and it hit me like a slap in the face. I felt as though the breath had been pushed out of my lungs, and my heart has somehow moved its way from my chest to halfway up my throat.

In Australia, this doesn’t mean too much right now. We don’t have to suddenly make a super hard choice like our American and Canadian friends, but it does mean that the Animas pump will no longer be upgraded and will slowly fall into obsolescence. I don’t know what this means for Animas support – I’m guessing that awesome hotline will be gone? No Diasend? No lovely Cath on the end of the phone telling me how to stop that incessant beeping?

My reaction may seem a little out of proportion – I mean, it’s just a pump right? Some people don’t even have INSULIN, and you’re right! The fact I even have a pump is a blessing, however that doesn’t negate the fact that the drop out of Animas leaves Aussies with type 1 diabetes in a precarious position.

Australia is a small type 1 diabetes market, and an even smaller pump market. We don’t really have much of a choice anyway, and now there are two – the Combo, which looks like a pager from the 90s (and most likely has the same usability), and the Medtronic Veo. There’s a risk that without another viable competitor in the market, Medtronic will gain a monopoly, and that terrifies me. We need a choice, not a forced hand to the ‘less shit’ company.

Yeah, it’s ‘just a pump’, but this machine is on me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am constantly using this thing, my fingers know exactly how many down and up pushes I need to get to ezBolus and the best angle to hold the pump line at to prime it. I touch this machine as much as I touch my phone, and it constantly sits in the middle of my chest, becoming a part of me, like my tattoos or my freckles. When the pump comes off, I feel naked – I’ve become used to that slightly bulky and heavy feeling in the middle of my chest, and to lie in bed without the tiny weight of my pump dragging down my PJ pockets makes me feel as though I’m missing some sort of body part.

At the end of the day, pumps are so personal that choice is inherent in the selection of one. We all value different things – I went with Animas because of their fantastic customer service and upload app (unlike Medtronic and Carelink, they give you as much information as your HCP – funny to think that people with diabetes can be trusted with their own data?!). I’m not saying I’d never change, but with the closure of Animas it forces our hand, and with Canada and the U.S. completely destroys their hand! I’d love a TSlim in the future (people would stop asking why I still had a pager and why it was lighting up in my bra), but from my OWN choice. I want to choose a pump because I’m a fan of its design, its software, or its customer care – not because the other option is rubbish and I’m over syringes.

People with diabetes are not identical, and nor should their pumps be.

pumpfinalll

It’s about time

It’s about time I told you my diagnosis story.

This isn’t coming out of the blue – National Diabetes Week is this week, and for the first time there is a part of the campaign exclusively focused on type 1 diabetes, and knowing the early signs of type 1. Their hashtags (well played Diabetes Australia, keep it up #hashtagsarelife) are #ItsAboutTime / #NDW2017 / #4Ts , and the first one jumped out at me.

It’s about time that we knew what the signs are – with all the resources available to us at the tips of our fingers, with HCPs having more qualifications and knowledge than ever before, why is this still being missed? Why am I still hearing stories on diabetes camp about kids and adults being dismissed as ‘dramatic’, ‘sensitive’, or ‘just a bit stressed?’

Alright, buckle in, make a cup of tea, and read up. This is long. You’re in for a tale and a rant on why #ItsAboutTime the symptoms of type 1 diabetes need to be known. #ItsAboutTime that we understand that diagnosis does not stop at the words “You have Type 1 Diabetes”, and that a diagnosis is multi-faceted. Treat the diabetes, but treat the tidal wave of emotion that comes along with it. 

January, 2010

I’m 17. I’ve just returned from an exchange trip to France, and I am buzzing with my newfound acquisition of the language, an obnoxious penchant for relating everything back to my trip (“That reminds me of this one time, in France, where…”), and a taste for French wine. I have a week before I start Year 12, and being the nerd that I am, I land in Melbourne and pick up my books the next day. We’re studying A Streetcar Named Desire and dear God, I will do all the pre-reading and extra reading if it kills me.

09paris

17 year old me halfway up the Eiffel Tower. May have had a glass of pinot for dĂ©jeuner.

February 2010

Ok, so it’s starting to kill me. It’s been a few weeks since Term 1 has started, and I’m already feeling tired and burnt out. Each day seems like more of an obstacle, and I go from being full of beans at the start of term to sitting at the back of the classroom and willing my brain to concentrate on the words and data in front of me – and why is my vision kinda fuzzy? My school has three levels, and dragging myself up those stairs become like scaling a small mountain – as the weeks go on, I start to pause and lean against the wall to get myself to each floor. I’m also drinking, and therefore peeing, a LOT. I carry a 1.25 litre drink bottle around with me, and fill it up every chance I get. I’m constantly asking to go to the toilet, and my teachers are starting to get annoyed. I stop hanging around after class and run to the toilets every break that we get.

I’m losing weight, and I’m LOVING it. All of my friends are complaining about their “Year 12 padding”, yet whatever I eat, I seem to drop even more weight. I sit there smugly eating a Mars Bar while my friends complain – hey, I may be exhausted, and married to the toilet, but at least I’m losing the muffin top!

A week pre diagnosis. I’d lost more than 10kgs in two weeks, but unfortunately still thought a side fringe was a good idea and that Passion Pop was the height of house party elegance.

Mum notices that something is up, and even though I protest and say “I’m just stressed”, she basically frogmarches me to the car and takes me to the GP. She’s heard me peeing like a horse at least five times a night, and I’ve taken to sculling water ON the toilet – this thirst just won’t go away, however much I drink. Over the next couple of weeks we see three doctors in a row, all of which tell me that I’m stressed (“told you Mum”), working myself too hard, and may ‘have a small virus’. They do no tests, not even a simple blood prick, and raise their eyebrows if we push any further. So we don’t.

This is done way too often – people are brushed off, time and time again, as too dramatic, anxious, or sensitive. Often, it is mothers taking their kids to the doctor, and often it is mothers being told to ‘calm down’. Whether it is the mother or the patient, women are consistently discriminated against within the healthcare system – consciously or unconsciously, but the fact remains that it happens. I’m not saying that doctors misdiagnosing is exclusive to women, but I am saying that it is more common, and that it is embedded in the Western healthcare system. You can see this here and here (done as part WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health). If you’re still thinking “Classic Georgie, harping on with that feminist rubbish” do a quick peer-reviewed study search and you will be buried with research that shows, time and time again, women’s concerns are dismissed and/or delayed. Whether that woman is seeking treatment for herself, or a dependent, we are pushed away, told we are being dramatic, or that we’re too sensitive. One of my closest friends was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 22 – TWENTY TWO – and only got the ultrasound that ultimately diagnosed her cancer when her nurse mother pushed and persisted for it. We should not be advocating to get to the bottom of a problem, that’s our GPs job. 

MOVING ON

Labour Day Weekend, March 6th – 8th

I am beyond exhausted. My family is packing for a camping weekend away with my cousins, and because I like camping as much as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, I’ve decided not to go (Why would you pay to sleep on the ground and shit in a hole?!). However, watching them prepare to leave makes me scared, and I make a last-minute decision to go with them. I’m scared because I can feel my heart beating through my chest, it takes energy to lift my head off the pillow, and my vision is a little fuzzy. To put it bluntly, I feel like death.

We’re camping with my cousins and some friends – and one of these friends has type 1 diabetes. He is my parents’ age, and when I mention my incredible ability to pee and drink at the same time, he furrows his brow and pointedly tells my aunt to “take her to the hospital, that’s not good”. The weather is terrible, so we shrug and I secretly revel in the fact that I only had to sleep in a tent for one night. We debate back at my aunt’s whether to take me to the local hospital then, or wait until tomorrow, but I’m so tired and comfy that I’m already sleeping and the point is moot. Unbeknownst to me, my aunt checks my breath that night – her friend told her that if I had type 1, my breath should smell sweet. It did. Lucky me.

Before heading to the hospital, I google my symptoms and everything points to type 1 diabetes. “Hey guys – Google says I have type 1 diabetes! Haha oh god can you imagine, I’m so bad with needles.” Idiot.

March 7th

We get to the hospital, and my mother lists all the symptoms that I have, and we’re rushed right through. I’m leaning against my aunt, nestling my head on her shoulder and trying to regulate my breathing. My chest is hurting, and I feel like my whole body is full of lead. The nurse pulls out a finger pricker, takes my blood, looks at the meter, and my aunt looks over and says “Oh SHIT”.

From there, I’m hooked up to a million drips, and I start to cry. I hate needles, I don’t know what’s happening, and my mum and aunt are on either side of me trying to calm me down. At some point, a doctor walks in, tells me my blood sugar levels were ‘dangerously high’, that I have type 1 diabetes, and she walks right out again. At this, I feel like I’ve been punched in the face. Type 1 diabetes? What the hell is that? Is this my fault? Is it all the Mars Bars that I ate?

Aftermath

I spent around a week in hospital, but I can’t really remember a lot of it. I do remember crying my heart out that first night, and I’ve never felt grief like it. The sobs seemed to come from within my very bones, and reverberated through my body as I cried under the blanket, fist curled around my hair and my arm hugging the pillow. I didn’t know anyone with this, and all I had heard from people around me was how diabetics died early, how they went blind, and how they had to inject themselves all the time. The insulin being put back into my system swelled me up, and I panicked – I was getting fatter AND I had a lifelong illness?! There was no consideration for my earlier medical history – my mental health, my history with eating disorders – behind the scenes there may have been, but from where I stood I was told to ‘deal with it’ whenever I brought up my feelings. As soon as I was physically balanced, they led me out of the ward, with a handout on carb counting and injecting and instructions to ‘find yourself an educator in Melbourne’.

2010 was a hard year. I often started crying for no reason, and I was resentful of this new part of my life. I was angry, and upset, and confused – and alone. Nobody in my life knew what it was like, and I had no idea where to find people that did.

Not only is it about time that we know the early signs, it’s about time we make diagnosis easier. Diagnosis is always going to be rough – but you know what makes it easier? Know the #4Ts, get people diagnosed before they reach this stage, and once they’re diagnosed?

Hold their hand a little. We may be adults, but we’re just starting out with diabetes. Slip a support group pamphlet into our hand, welcome peer support volunteers into your hospitals, and for the love of God – stop telling teenagers that they’re going to go blind and die as you teach them to carb count. 

Type 1 diabetes strikes anyone, regardless of age or lifestyle. Know the 4Ts – Thirsty, Tired, Toilet, Thinner – and if you’re worried, ask for a finger prick. It only takes a minute, and could mean an introduction to this world that is calm and positive, not one that is scary and lonely. Diagnosis needs to be holistic and considered – remember you’re dealing with a human that is dealing with this forever, not a medical textbook case study. Help us find our tribe!



 

Relief 

Guess who hadn’t had an eye test for three years because she’s scared of anything going in or near her eye?*

This girl.

Guess who has nightmares about waking up and going blind because her first endo told her that it was basically inevitable she’d end up on dialysis with no legs and no sight? 

This girl.

Guess who finally built up the courage to go and get them tested and has PERFECT eyes?!

THIS GIRL! ​

I went today because I was assured this optometrist was good with eye sooks like me – and this is why it’s so important to work with your patients. If I feel judged or patronised, there is no way I’m heading back. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere else, but often I’ll withdraw altogether. Treat your clients as equals, and we’ll be loyal and back every time đŸ‘ŒđŸ» 

*stop sniggering, I hear you

Keep ’em at home 

Whiny post alert!

PSA on behalf of type 1 teachers/teachers with chronic illnesses everywhere.

Keep your sick kids at home!!

I understand that it’s hard being a parent and having a sick kid is bloody hard work what with arranging care. I know it might seem easier just sending them to school BUT…

I am not a babysitter. School is not a childcare service. I am here to educate your child, and your child comes to school to learn. If they are not well enough to learn, they should not be at school –  they need to be at home in bed. 

Not only do other students get sick, this turns my workplace into a cesspit of snotty noses and infection, some teachers (*cough ME*) have compromised immune systems and a cocktail of other chronic health conditions – without a doubt I will catch your kid’s ‘harmless’ virus and at best, spend the next few days in bed. At worst, the Alfred Hospital emergency department, DKA, and I become acquainted once again. 

I know they “just have a small virus”, but that virus is contagious, and they also have working organs and a killer immune system (except those few spoonie students, god bless my compromised immune system kidlets). Let that system do its job and keep them at home for one more day while they’re still contagious – they and we will thank you. They’re teenagers, all they need is Netflix. an internet connection, and permission to raid the kitchen. 

Who feels like pricking their finger with aching skin, a sore throat, and a fever? Who feels like spending their weekend trying to mark exams with double vision? NOT ME.
“But Miss, you always seem sick” (Year 11 students after a dizzy spell) 

THAT’S BECAUSE YOU ALL KEEP COMING TO SCHOOL MATE, weirdly it’s frowned upon at work to walk around with a mask and industrial sized bottle of Dettol. 

“Line up outside 7C I just need to disinfect everyone before you come into the classroom” 

Keep đŸ‘đŸ»them đŸ‘đŸ» at đŸ‘đŸ» home đŸ‘đŸ»

Cut the crap 

I’m lying on my bed, just past 11pm on a Wednesday night, and I’m aching and nauseous and trying not to cry with anger. I’m so frustrated, and I’m frustrated that I’m frustrated.

I’m finding my sugars really hard to manage, and I’m doing everything right. I’m only eating foods I know the exact carbs to, I’m taking my insulin, I’m exercising daily, and you know what that’s done? TWO DAYS ABOVE 25. I ate NOTHING from 4pm until now, corrected every hour, and I only came down to 15. FIFTEEN, after not eating for SEVEN HOURS. I’m ‘hangry’ as hell, if someone even breathes the wrong way in the next 24 hours, I will not be held responsible for my actions.
I’m so fucking sick of this, of doing the right thing, of doing what doctors and educators

and nurses tell me to do, and my body deciding to make its own rules. I’m so angry, I’ve spent years working towards not being afraid to take my insulin, and as soon as I’m in a place where I can, it doesn’t fucking work. I correct and correct and it gets harder and harder, as all I see is insulin pouring into me, with no discernible effect yet the feeling that I’m gaining weight from the insulin by the hour.

I’m so tired of diabetes, I am so DONE. I am so under the pump this year with 12 hour work days, finishing off my Masters degree and volunteering, I just want to go about my life without diabetes stubbornly refusing to cooperate. I’m not expecting miracles, I’ll take a high reading every now and then – hell, I’ll take once a day. I just think that I should be able to do my job without a fuzzy head, weak muscles, and a brain that can’t work fast because it’s been wading through sickly sweet blood for the past few days. Everyone has bad days, we’re human. I’d just like the chance to have my bad days without the side of ketones???

It’s 11.09pm, my pump software just started to work after half an hour of suspending, rebooting, and giving my diasend cable the stink eye. My email to my educator has a subject line that reads “please help!!!” with a sad face emoji as a prelude.

Cut the crap diabetes, get your act together. Just respond to SOME insulin, PLEASE.

 

 

Have faith in others.  

I slid down against the wall, checked the train timetable, and sat back. I felt a little funny, but today had been a weird day. A small fire at uni, that had us joking in the corridor but then mildly freaking out as we realised we were stuck on the first level due to the single stairwell being blocked. Then news from Bourke St, that a person had mowed down pedestrians and left a trail of carnage behind him…today had not been a good day, I was ready to get home and build myself a doona and pillow fort.

Suddenly, I couldn’t control my limbs. I looked down at my thighs twitching, and inwardly screamed at them to STOP! Before I knew it, this twitching made its way up my entire body and I wasn’t able to see through my blurred vision. I started fitting -I couldn’t control my limbs or my head, it was like the screaming in my brain to stop was blocked by each jerk against the tiles. I could hear voices around me, feel hands touching my head and the sweat in every pore, but I couldn’t pause it. Being awake in your own body while you fit and watch people around you freak out is not something I’m keen to repeat.

 

I spat out “diabetes” as the convulsions became less strong and a nurse (found that out later, at this point she is an angel) pulled a coke out of her handbag and grabbed my shoulders as she forced it down my throat. Looking back, it must have looked very Steel Magnolias – DRINK THE JUICE SHELBY!

shelby.gif

Some beautiful women called Donna and Kate helped me onto my train, and let me cry at them until my stop, where a woman called Sal sat with me until my blood sugar reached the sixes. She fed me all the hypo food I had left while telling me about her niece with type 1, and how hypos are “such a pain!” You’re not wrong Sal, you’re not wrong.

Times like these act as a reminder that I’m not invincible. That however much I tell my body not to drop, to hold on, to keep it together, that sometimes I lose all semblance of control.

I forget that the majority of humans are inherently good. 99% of us want to help each other, and have empathy in spades. I felt so looked after by these three strangers, and they were so caring and genuinely worried that I nearly started crying again. Throw that together with my friend listening to me freak out on the end of the phone for a solid 10 minutes, and my diabetes crew assuring me that it’s happened to some of them…

Scary things can happen to those of us with diabetes, and I really think the only way to tackle it is by trusting that we will be ok. That people around us genuinely care, and that being vulnerable and letting yourself be helped (both physically and mentally) is really the only way to acknowledge those scary feelings and keep on living your life. We can’t let diabetes stop us altogether, but sometimes we have to let it stop us for a little while – stop us and force us to acknowledge that we are not invincible.

That timing though…

Diabetes is quite particular when it decides to f*ck things up.

I guarantee you I will never go low or high when I am sitting at home napping on a Sunday afternoon. My BGLs will start to go insane right at the point where I really need my mind working – parent/teacher interviews, an oral presentation, networking events, in front of rowdy year 8s, on stage…

ON STAGE.

I had State Champs on Sunday night for calisthenics (it’s a weird Australian sport, I go from looking like this… –>

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 9.48.39 PM

to this –> ignore my terrible feet and focus on the fabulous feather)

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 9.58.10 PM

ANYWAY

I tested before I went on stage – 6.2 – great! As soon as the music started and I hit my pose behind the curtain, I felt myself start to shake and sweat, and instantly knew that I was low. I mumbled “Shit” as the curtain rose, and willed myself to get through the next three minutes.

Being low on stage is not like being low during ‘normal’ sport – on the court, I can just call time, treat my hypo, and watch someone else fill in for me. It doesn’t work like that with dance – I can’t yell “TIME!” at the judge and stumble off while my friends are halfway through a walkover. Technically, I could walk off, but to get disqualified after all that training…combined with hypo brain, all logical thought goes out the window and all you can think is “Get through this”

Thanks to diabetes, my balance was off as I couldn’t see straight, and thus couldn’t hold myself up in any sort of balance. I fell out of my headstand, right onto my back (it’s still aching, good job diabetes) and crouched into what my sister and I call the “ball of shame” until I could pick up the next movement. Those 4 seconds were so long – I could feel my lip wobble as I looked at the floor and willed myself not to cry. Do you know how hard it is to keep dancing on stage when your brain is starved of sugar? REALLY FUCKING HARD. It’s scary. There is a different move every second, and you have to rely on muscle memory to get you through as you use every last bit of brain power to focus on keeping in time. You can see your hands shake as you go upside down, and your heart beats so hard in your chest it reverberates up into your head and drowns out the music. Everything on stage is an overwhelming, bright, and terrifying blur.

I think what really angered me about this is that I was so frustrated at diabetes. I had practiced so hard for this competition – I had been having trouble with things in that routine, and had been finally nailing them at training. I was ready to smash it on Sunday, and diabetes HAD to interfere at THAT PARTICULAR MOMENT. Not five minutes before, not five minutes after, the THREE MINUTES I was on stage.

I came off stage and instantly cried into my coach’s shoulder (the poor thing still probably has my tears, snot and makeup permanently caked into her top). The combination of a bad hypo (they make me emotional…) plus the frustration of having screwed any chance of a place for our team in that performance, just because of something that was completely out of my control, resulted in me stuffing my face with lollies and crying for a good 15 minutes outside the dressing room.

Sometimes there’s nothing to say about diabetes, other than it SUCKS and has the worst timing in the world. The only reliable thing about it is that it will always choose the most inconvenient time to make things difficult. I can handle being bad at something, and I can handle making a mistake (OK, that’s a lie, but I can accept it…). But when my goals are ruined by diabetes, despite me doing all the right things, that is when I really resent my lazy pancreas. I have been doing everything I’m meant to do, DIABETES GOD, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?! A prayer? A sacrifice?!

frustrated

Food shamers? Leave my sight.

I’m proud of myself this week.

I stood up to someone who unintentionally food shamed the hell out of me.*

You know the people I’m talking about – they start a cleanse/paleo/vegan diet and all of a sudden your friend who is an accountant/HR manager/lawyer proclaims that they are the fountain of wisdom on all things ‘healthy’. Never mind that this person has not got a condition where they have to know way too much about food (*cough* diabetes), never mind that this new diet they are on will simply result in the weight being gained back because it’s not sustainable, the fact is that they’ve lost weight NOW and want everyone to know about it.

“Oh I couldn’t possibly have that cheese, so fatty, do you know what it does to you?”

I DON’T GIVE A FUCK IT’S DELICIOUS, HAND OVER THE BRIE OR SUFFER.

cheese.gif

I have no time for someone commenting about the food I am eating, unless it is one of two questions.

  1. “Oh my god, that looks so good, could I have the recipe?” Of course!
  2. “Oh my god, that looks so good, could I have some?” No. Especially if I’m eating RondelĂ©, bitch this cheese is mine.

Seriously, even if it comes from a well intentioned place and you honestly think you are doing the person a favour, say the sentence inside your head, swallow it (just like your herbalife smoothie) and move on. You have no idea about the mindset of the person who you are talking to – a ‘harmless’ comment about the fat content of their yoghurt could send them into a tailspin (I definitely did not cry in my car after someone told me that my yoghurt was fatty, definitely not).

I am ALL for healthy eating, some of my closest friends are dietitians and you should see the spreads we put on (OK, what THEY put on, I eat it and wash up). But healthy eating does not mean denial, or staying away from anything substantial until you whittle yourself down into society’s version of ‘health’. NO. Healthy eating means that you mindfully consider what you are eating, you eat a balanced diet, and sometimes you go out with friends and have fish and chips. You can eat LCHF/vegan/gluten-free without pushing it onto others – I have plenty of diabetes friends who do just that! Nobody wants to be ‘that guy’ at the BBQ that can only talk about his zucchini noodles – like c’mon, there are SO many more interesting topics, have you heard of a series called The Bachelor?

If you have found a way of eating that works for you, that is awesome, and I am happy for you, because goodness knows we all need some stability in this crazy, food-obsessed world of ours. What I do ask you to do, is consider others before talking about your food. I don’t know what it is about these last five years, but food talk seems to have slipped into small talk and it’s making me supremely uncomfortable. Frankly, I’ve had enough.

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Last week I scooted over to my workmate to ask her if she had anything to eat – it was 4.30pm after a long meeting, and I still had 2 hours of marking to do.

“Oh, I have a lollipop!”

“Perfect!”

As I turn around I hear “Oh but they’re so bad for you! No, don’t it eat Georgie”

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She was well intentioned, meant no harm, but after a weekend of family commenting on my dietary choices (let me eat the goddamn sandwich, carbs are not the devil) I had had enough.

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t food shame me, [Name]. My food is my business, I’m an adult, and I’d rather you not comment on it unless it’s something like ‘Yum’!”

It doesn’t sound like much, but I was shaking. I am SICK of people thinking they have a right to tell me what I should eat, and work is my ‘safe place’. Do not invade this last bubble, please.

This person spent the next five minutes saying things like “I’d never heard of food shaming before you…I didn’t mean anything by it…I’m just trying to help’ which is completely understandable. I explained why it affects me, and why it would affect other people. I explained that so many people have issues with food, that it’s safer to only comment if you are asked or invited. I hope some of it got through – they may have left just thinking that I’m some precious, indulgent, easily-offended Gen Y, but at least I know that I won’t have any more comments on my lasagna or salad in the staff room.

Food is more than fuel. Fuel is culture, enjoyment, family, and memories. Food can bring back thoughts, experiences, and people. Every time I dip buttered toast into soup, I can hear my French host grandparents indulgently laughing at “l’australienne” who dipped baguette into her brouillon. “C’est comme ça en Australie? C’est bizarre!”

Our relationship with food is intensely personal – you wouldn’t walk up to my partner and say “Oh, that’s a terrible way to kiss!” – so why comment on something that’s equally as close? Unless you’re invited, keep away from my plate. 

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*Food shaming is linked to body shaming, which I will examine in another blog post further down the line, when I have a fresh story to relate it to (don’t worry, it won’t be long, the d*ckheads of Melbourne love a body shaming insult or two).