IF there’s one thing Michelle Steel doesn’t like about having type 1 diabetes, it’s being asked: “Should you be eating something like that?”
Mrs Steel enjoys a muffin with her coffee and doesn’t like being made to feel guilty about it.
“People don’t realise that we do live normal lives,” she said. “We can manage the diabetes, it doesn’t manage us.”
As part of National Diabetes Week, Mrs Steel shared her story to dispel some of the misunderstandings about type 1 diabetes.
The prevalence of the condition continues to grow in the Warrnambool region with 5.2 per cent of the population, a total of 1544 people, registered on the National Diabetes Services Scheme.
Mrs Steel recently shared experiences with other local people with type 1 diabetes who manage their condition with an insulin pump.
“We shared our pet hates and the number one thing was being asked ‘should you be eating that’,” Mrs Steel said.
She also gets miffed when people don’t distinguish between the two types of diabetes.
She was diagnosed 25 years ago with type 1 diabetes, which is caused by destruction of the insulin-producing cells in her pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is primarily caused by lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise.
“A lot of people think I have it because I ate too much sugar, but that’s not the case,” Mrs Steel said.
But she is not complaining: “If you have to have a chronic condition, diabetes isn’t too bad compared to others.”
“Diabetes can be well managed now. Technology is helping us and making it easier all the time.”
Mrs Steel moved to insulin pump therapy several years ago and said it changed her life for the better.
“Prior to that I was on four injections a day; now I have a cannula that I change every three days and I can eat what I like when I like.
“I constantly check my glucose levels so I can calculate how much insulin I need to hit my targets. It keeps much better control and avoids the highs and lows.”
A new downloadable app will allow Mrs Steel and others like her to calculate exactly how many carbohydrates are in muffins and other foods.
Warrnambool-based diabetes educator Ann Morris said the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes in the region continued to grow every week.