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Carmen - Development Officer

Q & A

Since your diagnosis 5 years ago you have managed to integrate type 1 diabetes into your everyday life. What have you learnt about yourself, and people around you during this transition period? To be honest I just let it slip into my life. I was lucky that I was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 30. I was also well educated with the highs and lows of type 1 (to an extent). I did find how much my friends and family care for me. So this may sound a little weird, but it was so humbling to know the amount of support that I have. I guess I had always had it, there had just never been a situation previously in life for it to be shown.
I also took the popular slogan to heart "what doesn't kill you, only makes it stronger". I have never felt so strong in my life. I feel that there is nothing in life that I can't accomplish or overcome and I am not sure whether it is my age that makes me feel this way or whether it is partly due to my diagnosis.

I understand that you worked within diabetes prior to your diagnosis so you where exposed to real life scenario' s and saw the impact of type 1 on them and their families. How did this prepare you or make you feel when you were directly impacted by this condition? This is a funny question. My endocrinologist has indicated to me that working in the environment prior to diagnosis wasn't good for me as I just saw the negatives. I originally thought it was a good thing as I was educated prior to diagnosis, but now that I look back. Yes it was detrimental for me. I only saw the negatives with having type 1. All the sad stories. The things that happen to you when you don't look after yourself. I now know, that we are no different than anyone else with the introduction of amazing technologies. Our life expectancy is the same. If we live healthily, our lives are no different than anyone else. It's the same as having bad teeth. Just look after yourself.

Do you tell colleagues or people you meet that you have type 1 diabetes, and if so how and why? Yes I tell everyone. I don't hide it. I often choose to not eat unhealthy foods. So on cake day at work I say no, because how it makes me feel. So that people know why I say no - I say because I have type 1. I also inject when I eat. I welcome questions. But so I don't make anyone feel uncomfortable I feel it is better to pit it out in the open before people question what I am doing. I then always welcome questions. We can educate one person at a time.

Being the mother of two incredibly active young boys, working and maintaining a dynamic social diary, what are the most challenging things that you face physically and emotionally? When I'm having a high or low, the emotions that come with it - are the hardest things. When my boys want to just go for a bike ride, a run. I need to prepare. I can't just go.

You are an incredibly busy women with a range of commitments, what influenced you to take up an active role on the type 1 voice committee, and why? I really want to let people know that life is just normal with diabetes. Yes you need to look after yourself but it doesn't stop you doing anything. Never ever use diabetes as an excuse. I also want the world to know that you should never discriminate. People are scared of type 1. I was businesses and the community to know that there is nothing to scared of. But I want to let people know that there are lows, there can be deaths. These can be stopped with education. Education is key.

You have a wonderful partner that supports you in day to day life, along with the incredibly support he gives you in your personal health needs. How has type 1 diabetes impacted yours, and your partners life and quality of life? It doesn't affect our quality of life. However every time he is shopping or purchasing ingredients for food, he will ask me which is the correct one to get. When I have a terrible low, he will let my boys know that I need 15 minutes to recoop.

Do you think people are still confused, about what type 1 diabetes is and the impact in has on all areas of life? Yes just today. It came up in conversation. People always confuse type 1 and type 2

What do you think are the biggest changes of those living with this condition? Exercising! The lows can ruin a whole day. The planning, spontaneity can sometimes of out the window.

Let's go back to when you were first diagnosed, if you could give advice about type 1 to a younger you, what pearls of wisdom would you give yourself about life with this condition? If you are already living a healthy lifestyle. Keep going with what you are doing. I changed my diet. I didn't need to. If you want to eat a carb, inject and eat it.

Fast 5

Who do you most admire? I can't answer this. So many people. I admire those who have a dream and follow it. Is as simple as that really. Those who enjoy life.

Your greatest weakness? Finishing what I start. I have so many projects and say yes to everything because I thing I can do it. But I need to learn the work no, and understand that there are only a certain amount of hours in a day and I can't achieve everything. I need to choose what I can achieve and put 100% in that, rather than 50% in a million things.

Greatest strength? My can do attitude. Can't IS NOT A word (but look at the question before - perhaps also a weakness).

What keeps you awake at night? Firstly the happiness of my boys and that I am providing enough for them... secondly My 'to do' list. It gets out of control.

Five dream dinner-party guests? I know I should say famous people. But I am lucky enough to have the best friends to have awesome dinner guests. But for the purpose of these questions... I will say..
Eddie Vedder
Julia Gillard
My dad

Your one wish? I have 3 - live, love laugh!

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"Type 1 Voice exists to improve people's experience of having type 1 diabetes and enabling dignified, happy and healthy living.

This is achieved through collaboration with government and industry as well as raising awareness in the workplace, school and the community."