Georgia (2022) - 4 years old, attending JDRF subsidy announcement.
Georgia - January 2019, T1D diagnosis week 10-months-old.
Georgia in character form in You, Me & T1D
Helping the community rethink diabetes
In 2019, our 10-month-old daughter, Georgia, was admitted into hospital in what we later found out was a serious state of diabetic ketoacidosis and we were very quickly advised she had type 1 diabetes (T1D). We have been on the T1D rollercoaster ever since and it’s a ride we can never get off. No one chooses diabetes, it is a very individual, complex, never-ending marathon with lots of bumps along the way.
T1D is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions, representing 10% of all diabetes cases in Australia and has even higher incidences globally. Multiple modelling studies predicts T1D to increase by over 50% by 2040 and could look to represent 17.4 million people. T1D is no longer an ‘adolescent’ condition. The rates of incidents for people under 18 and over 30 are on the increase.
However, we are extremely fortunate to be living in a time where there is focus and investment being made into diabetes management (technology), ongoing research for cures and awareness of diabetes across all types (type 1, type 2, gestational and other).
In January 2019, we left the Womens and Children’s hospital in Adelaide thankful to still have our baby girl with us, but having to face a reality that she would be accompanied everyday of her life being attached to an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). These devices would help manage and monitor her glucose levels to help us try avoid life threatening hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) episodes, whilst trying to avoid prolonged hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) episodes, in fear of damaging other vital organs. We refer to this as the T1D tightrope.
We are extremely grateful for these lifesaving technologies, and in awe of families who walked this path before us when treatment options were limited, and technology could not yet assist but are always conscious/worried of the emotional and mental health impacts to come from having a chronic medical condition and being attached to bionic devices.
Fast forward to 2021 and we were thrown out of our bubble of unawareness having such a young child having this condition and at the young age of 3.5, Georgie started to notice her devices and ask why she is the only person with a CGM and pump. Then Kindy commenced in 2022 and naturally her peers were curious by the devices on her arms and legs and unsure of the beeping they would hear. This started to have a profound impact on Georgie and how she was now viewing herself and her diabetes. Sadness, frustration, and exhaustion from her condition was already bearing its weight on her small shoulders.
Multiple studies have identified that people living with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop mental and emotional health issues, such as, diabetes distress, depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
Georgia’s shift in mindset was as a result of feeling different, not having her peers understand what her devices are, despite her telling them, and ultimately her feeling alone. Managing T1D and the emotional and mental toll linked with it requires support and understanding from a range of people. Starting with her own outlook of her condition, support from family, doctors, friends and peers.
You, Me & T1D was written with inspiration from the key themes of National Diabetes Week (2022) to;
provide T1D kids a resource they can view and relate to, to help try and reduce the feeling of being alone.
be an educational guide for family, friends and peers to shed light on modern ways that T1D is managed (multiple and varying technologies) - Reduce burden with more compassion.
show others who have not had exposure to T1D that it doesn’t stop the person from doing everything you can do, but there are extra decisions and steps along their way - reduce blame with more understanding.
demonstrate that management of a chronic illness is a group effort and helping someone who endures a chronic medical condition can help them with their day, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally - reduce barriers and help people get support.
You, Me & T1D has been written to encourage people to rethink diabetes.