Living with Type 1 Diabetes

Adult's Guide

Tips and resources to help you live a safer, easier and happier life until we cure T1D.

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Finding your Healthcare Professionals

It is important to find a doctor or team you feel comfortable with and with whom you can discuss your diabetes and concerns. You also need to like and trust them. If you don’t, you have the right to seek care elsewhere. Be proactive about this, otherwise you are likely to stop going to your appointments and this may affect your long-term health.

Services

Most major public hospitals provide free access to a range of diabetes health care professionals; endocrinologists, diabetes educators and dieticians.

Insulin is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This means if your doctor provides you with a prescription, and you are eligible for Medicare, your contribution will be approximately $35 for each prescription, or $6 if you are a concession card holder.

Blood glucose and urine ketone strips, insulin syringes, insulin pen needles and pump consumables are subsidised by the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). To qualify for NDSS benefits you must be eligible for Medicare. You also need register.

Wellbeing

A diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is starting a journey that is new and unfamiliar. It is not chosen and not wanted. You still carry all the other parts of your life with you. Everyone with T1D finds it hard at times. Depression, anxiety and burn out are common. Living with type 1 diabetes makes you more than twice as likely to experience depression than those who don’t. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that you know when to seek help. Your mood and actions can be closely linked to your blood glucose levels (BGLs). As you have probably already noticed, you may feel short- tempered and out of sorts when your BGLs are high. You may find that your anti- personality comes out when your BGL is low. 

Build a support networking, be gentle on your self and don’t waste time punishing yourself over a high or low number. 

Little Blue Book

People, organisations and places you need to know. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Language of T1D

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Exercise

Adjusting food and insulin around exercise can be tricky as each person is unique. When adjusting insulin prior to exercise consider the intensity and duration of exercise. In general, sustained moderate exercise such as bushwalking, will result in a slow drop in BGLs. However, intense, exercise that gets your heart pumping, may result in your BGL rising. With monitoring over time you will understand your personal requirements. 

Work Tips

Telling your employer and colleagues about T1D can be a big help. Keep a well-stocked hypo kit handy at all times. Don’t skip meal breaks. If you are unable to eat regularly, or you are going into a long meeting, keep a drink containing carbohydrate, such as orange juice, or a latte on hand to sip and take a snack with you. Don’t ignore a hypo — treat it immediately. Check your BGL before a presentation or important meeting. Adrenalin and nerves can make it hard to know if you’re having a hypo.

Food

There is no such thing as a ‘Diabetic Diet’. While at first it may seem like your former life of carefree and spontaneous eating and drinking is over, your diabetes care team can help you to tailor your insulin treatment around your lifestyle. 

Driving

There are a few laws when driving with T1D. If you are newly diagnosed you need to inform your local licensing authority. To be safe whilst driving you should check your blood glucose level before getting behind the wheel. You should be ‘Above 5 to drive’. If you are driving long distances, check your BGL before driving and every two hours. Plan for regular meal breaks and keep plenty of hypo treatments in your car at all times.

Reducing Complications

The development of complications is linked to management, glucose control and the length of time living with T1D. 

Perfect blood glucose levels are uncommon. Doing your best to manage the fluctuations is important. 

Recent studies have shown that tight glucose control can reduce complications by up to 76%. 

Travel

For any traveller, planning ahead is the key to a successful trip. This is particularly true for people with type 1 diabetes. Speak to your healthcare team and make a plan with regards to timezones, meals and travel activities. It is essential to have a letter from your doctor that states you have type 1 diabetes.
People with a genuine medical condition are allowed to carry syringes, lancets, insulin pens, insulin pumps and insulin medication through security screening points on the condition the items are not accessible to the public.
Divide your medicines and diabetes supplies and pack them in more than one place, in case you lose one of your bags. Most importantly, make sure that you have your insulin, checking supplies and hypo fix in your carry-on luggage.

Alcohol

In general, guidelines on the level of alcohol consumption are the same as that for the general population. Excess alcohol can increase the risk of a hypo. When you drink alcohol (which is considered a toxin to your body), the liver has to stop work to break it down and remove it. While your liver is doing this it can’t release stored glucose if your BGL starts to fall. This effect can last for many hours after you have been drinking and may continue overnight and into the next day. To avoid hypo’s, it’s best to avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol in one session and make sure you always have some carbohydrate to eat before or while you drink. You should test your BGL before you go to bed and eat a snack if your level is normal to low.

Pregnancy

In the past, women with T1D  were discouraged from becoming pregnant because of the increased risk of complications. Thankfully, now, women with T1D can expect to have a healthy baby. Planning with your doctor before you become pregnant is vital. You should start working on your blood glucose goals about three months before conception. A recent JDRF funded study has proven that women who use a CGM during pregnancy spend an extra 100 minutes each day in range. Their babies are less likely to have low blood sugar after birth and are about half as likely to have complications or require intensive care. CGM’s are now subsidised for eligible women.

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