People living with diabetes share their stories
Published at: 12 Jul 2019
IF IT WAS NOT FOR MELISSA MCMAHON’S FRIEND, SHE MAY HAVE NEVER LEARNED SHE HAD TYPE 2 DIABETES.
The Stanhope local said it was 2014 when her friend fell pregnant and decided to check her blood sugar levels.
Ms McMahon had hers checked as well and learned she had type 2 diabetes.
“Mine were a bit high,” she said. “I was pretty devastated so I went into a bit of denial.”
In her early 20s at the time, Ms McMahon thought she was too young and put off doing something about it.
“I only really started looking after myself because we wanted to have kids,” she said.
Ms McMahon began making improvements to her diet and lifestyle.
“I pushed myself,” she said.
Eventually falling pregnant, Ms McMahon said she gave birth to a healthy baby boy five months ago at Goulburn Valley Health’s maternity ward.
“I was really strict (during the pregnancy); I was really paranoid something was going to go wrong,” she said.
Ms McMahon denied anything with sugar in it and said the strict diet had resulted in her levels being pretty good after giving birth.
She said she did take medication during the pregnancy to keep her diabetes under control but ceased all medications after giving birth.
“I now manage it mainly through dietary choices,” she said.
“My diabetes is controlled and I’ll have a test in another six months.”
While she does not experience severe symptoms, Ms McMahon said she made sure she ate around every three hours.
“I find if I’m hungry and I need to eat I get a really sick feeling in the stomach,” she said.
“So I just make sure I always eat every few hours.”
Diabetes Victoria defined type 2 diabetes as a condition where the body still makes insulin, but it may not make enough, or the insulin that is being made does not do its job properly.
As a result, the gates of the cells cannot open to let the glucose in.
If glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the bloodstream and causes blood glucose levels to rise.
The goal of type 2 diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels within a target range.
“Even now that I’m controlled I still check my sugars regularly,” Ms McMahon said.
Youngster coping with diabetes diagnosis
WHEN ZOE LOCKHART’S PARENTS WERE TOLD HER DIAGNOSIS ALMOST 12 MONTHS AGO, THEY WERE DEVASTATED.
The bubbly five-year-old had experienced a significant increase in thirst and was constantly wanting to drink and eat.
Zoe’s mum Sharon Lockhart said she and partner Brett Bamford decided to take their daughter to the GP.
“We ended up coming straight over to casualty,” she said.
The family were soon told their young girl had type 1 diabetes.
“It’s like being told your child has cancer,” Mr Bamford said.
Zoe and her parents spent a week in hospital, equipping themselves with the tools to manage Zoe’s diabetes into the future.
“Once you get your head around it it’s okay,” Ms Lockhart said.
Zoe now monitors her blood sugar levels on a daily basis using a finger prick, sometimes checking them multiple times each day.
“We’ve got to watch her diet,” Mr Bamford said.
“She can’t have too much sugary stuff because her sugars will go sky high.”
Mr Bamford said Zoe’s sugar levels being too low was also a risk. These situations could both result in dangerous circumstances for Zoe.
GV Health dietician Rebecca Monk explained exactly what type 1 diabetes was.
“The condition occurs when the body is unable to make the hormone insulin,” she said.
Insulin acts like a key to open cells and let glucose enter from the blood.
According to Diabetes Victoria, type 1 diabetes usually develops in children and young adults, but can occur at any age.
It is an autoimmune condition which means the body’s own immune system destroys the cells that make insulin.
Ms Lockhart said they now gave Zoe injections of insulin every day — one in the morning and two at night.
While it had been a difficult 12 months for the family adjusting to Zoe’s condition,
Mr Bamford shared advice for parents who might face the same situation.
“Don’t blame yourself; it’s not your fault,” he said.