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Diabetes Health
Being diagnosed with Diabetes

Being diagnosed with Diabetes

 

Speak up, get involved and live life to the fullest!

Being diagnosed with Diabetes is a scary life altering diagnosis but it need not mean lowering your quality of life. Ashley Ng shares with Sunila Kelkar her experience of managing her Diabetes before it controlled her health and happiness.

Name: Ashley Ng

Age: 25 years

Profession: PhD student at School of Nursing and Midwifery Deakin University and part time consultant dietician.

(Research topic – The influence of Diabetes self-management in young adults with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes)

The Journey so far

My life before Diabetes was definitely less busy! Aside from the Diabetes related advocacy I currently do and the additional medical appointments, not much has changed about my life. However, I do place a higher priority on my health now.

Impact of the Diagnosis

I was diagnosed when I was 19 years old. It started out as a persistent sinus infection. After two rounds of antibiotics, my general practitioner suggested a general blood test to see if anything was abnormal. My sugar levels came back about 15 mmol/L (270 mg/DL) non-fasting. After an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test, where my sugars rose to about 23 mmol/L (414 mg/DL), I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

My diagnosis was a shock and it caused a lot of confusion, as I didn’t look like a typical person with Type 2 Diabetes. I exercised regularly, ate fairly well and was not at all overweight. However, all the biochemical markers for Type 1 Diabetes came back negative, so I was left with a questionable Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis and sent to the endocrinologist for further investigation. Eventually, one of the endocrinologists I saw classified it as Type 1b Diabetes, which means that I am insulin deficient but not due to autoimmunity.

Living with Diabetes

Diabetes has made me grow a lot as a person. I have learned that perfectionism is not practical and more importantly, I am still learning to be kinder and more forgiving towards myself.

Living with Diabetes has made me a better healthcare professional. I understand what it’s like to be the patient and what it feels like to be lost and overwhelmed. Many people know what they should be doing, but the hardest part is actually finding a starting point to get those things happening.

I am also a more passionate educator. Many myths and misunderstandings exist with Diabetes and it’s up to the people living with Diabetes and healthcare professionals alike to help quell them.

My exercise routine

Initially, I was scared of exercising again due to a fear of hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar. However, I attended group classes and made sure to tell the instructors about my Diabetes. A few years after my diagnosis, I started seeing a clinical exercise physiologist who prescribes exercises to people living with a chronic disease. This gave me the confidence to try new exercises and I even started running while managing my Diabetes. With the help of the physiologist, I would try out new exercises at their gym and monitor my sugar levels and blood pressure so that I knew what to expect when I was doing it by myself.

I continue to visit an exercise physiologist every six to eight weeks as a form of motivation and to make sure I follow the proper technique. I like to do a combination of resistant weight training and some cardio. On average, I try and do my weights program two to three times a week. In between I might go for a long walk on a hilly terrain or run on a treadmill.

My diet

I do not have a meal plan. I maintain the belief that people with Diabetes can eat anything they wish, but it’s all about the portion size. I love food so this works really well for me. A typical day would include three small meals and snacks in between.

I really like eating vegetables, so I try and incorporate three to four vegetables of different colours on my plate to get a good variety in. I also keep my carbohydrate portion small and stick to anywhere between half a cup to one cup of cooked rice or equivalent for meals and fill the rest of my plate with vegetables and a small portion of meat. For mid-meal snacks, I enjoy having a small tub of yoghurt, nuts or a small piece of fruit.

I really like eating vegetables, so I try and incorporate three to four vegetables of different colours on my plate to get a good variety in. I also keep my carbohydrate portion small and stick to anywhere between half a cup to one cup of cooked rice or equivalent for meals and fill the rest of my plate with vegetables and a small portion of meat. For mid-meal snacks, I enjoy having a small tub of yoghurt, nuts or a small piece of fruit.

When I eat out, I allow myself to enjoy the cuisine. I always order dishes that come with lots of vegetables or a side salad. My biggest tip is to always share the dessert and to eat slowly and enjoy the flavours rather than vacuuming everything in. Plus, you will eat lesser too.

Meal Time   Carbohydrate intake
Breakfast 6.30am 2 hard boiled eggs and mayo with whole wheat biscuits 10g CHO
Morning Tea 10.00am 150-200g Yoghurt or medium piece of fruit 20g CHO
Lunch 12.30pm Half cup of carbohydrates (rice, noodle or pasta) with lean meat or fish and vegetables 50g CHO
Afternoon Tea 3.00pm Small packet of popcorn or nuts 8g CHO
Dinner 7.00pm 3/4 cup carbohydrates (rice, noodle or pasta) with lean meat or fish and vegetables 65g CHO

Friends and Family

My family were shocked when I told them about my diagnosis. However, they have been extremely supportive. I am a strong believer that people with Diabetes can accomplish anything they wish to. It may take a bit longer and the road may be more complicated, but we can do it. I live with Diabetes so it’s my responsibility to do the best. I am also fiercely independent, which is perhaps why I like managing my own Diabetes. They respect my decisions and understand that I am the expert of my own health!

It is important to create an open dialogue with family and friends as it is a way to create awareness and to help them understand what people with Diabetes live with on a day to day basis.

Box

Type 1b Diabetes

Type 1b Diabetes, referred to as idiopathic Diabetes or Diabetes of unknown origin, is often misdiagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes. This form of Type 1 Diabetes is not autoimmune in nature, and tests for islet cell antibodies will come up negative. People with Type 1b Diabetes have an insulin deficiency and can experience ketoacidosis (a high blood sugar emergency), but their need for insulin injections typically waxes and wanes over time.

Heredity is a relatively small piece of the puzzle in predicting Type 1b Diabetes. The individual will have a gene and an environmental trigger will result in the onset of Diabetes. Statistically, people with an immediate family member who has type 1 diabetes are fifteen times more likely than the general population to develop the disease.

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