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James

Q & A

Recognising that you have taken up the role as carer of a person with type 1 diabetes, how has this impacted your work, other family members and life in general?

Originally this impacted significantly on my work life due to lack of sleep. I knew little of the disease state before becoming romantically involved with someone with type 1, so witnessing my first hypo, watching her seize, needing to dial 000 whilst thinking she was going to die the whole time was extremely terrifying.

That terror laid the foundation for what was to be months of barely being able to sleep for worry her sugar level might drop through the night and I might lose her. I think I called the Ambulance around 7 or 8 times in the first 10 months of our relationship and gave her about as many Glucagon injections to revive her as each time she lay slipping away in a convulsive state.

Fortunately with some new medication and some new technology things aren't quite as hectic as that these days; however I try not to become complacent as I know the risks are still there.

Is it a challenge to be with someone with type 1? Absolutely! Would I choose to do it again if I had my time over knowing what I was getting into? Absolutely! Because I honestly believe that beautiful women would probably not be here, if I wasn't there for her when she needed me. Plus, I am a better person for it and a better person for having met her and the world would certainly be a lot worse off without her in it.

Understanding the importance of a carer and the significant role they play in the quality of life for a person living with a chronic health condition, do you think their value is recognised by the health professionals and government figures?

I believe there are some individuals from those areas who do recognize the importance of the carers role and some who do not. It is certainly an area that could benefit from positive publicity to raise awareness.

Although typically a carer is often considered for a young child or adolescent, and we know type 1 diabetes isn't unique to children. Have you experienced confusion as to why your partner who is an adult needs the level of care you provide?

It's usually not something that is voiced, though I often pick up on questioning body language. I tend not to elaborate often unless people take the time to verbalise their curiosity though.

The nature of type 1 diabetes presents the person with the condition as capable and able bodied, which they are. However do you find it difficult for people to understand the severity of the condition and the reasons behind your role as carer?

Absolutely. It's difficult for people to understand all the factors that can affect someone when they have extremely sensitive sugar levels. Sometimes because a person may have known someone with type 1, they believe that all of the symptoms relevant to the person they knew should be the same as any other. Not so, type 1 is very individual and one person's disease state can be completely different to another.

Looking back on social, work and family environments what has been the most difficult situation or event that you have had to manage since taking up the role as carer?

Definitely work. There were (sometimes still are) many times we have alarms going off throughout the night constantly. Sometimes its challenging to try and work with clients on the back of only a few hours broken sleep.

There is often a feeling of helplessness when you see someone you care about experiencing discrimination against them due to their health condition. Have you witnessed this type of behaviour, and if so how did you support them through this period?

Fortunately most of the time my partner is like a steamroller if anyone discriminates against her in any way. But I am right behind her giving her my full support always, even if that means just being the ear she needs to vent to.

Do you think people are still confused about what type 1 diabetes is and the impact in has on the areas of a persons life?

Yes I think many people are which is why websites like this are so important with helping toward educating people.

Aside from the obvious, if you had the opportunity to change anything for your partner or make the type 1 journey easier, what would it be?

I would definitely create a greater flavour range in the glucogels because just the look on her face is enough to make me feel glad that I'm not the one having to eat that stuff!

Fast 5

Who do you most admire? I once read an article about a man who upon passing away, his family discovered he had been donating copious amounts of money to all kinds of different charities for over fifty years. His family were not even aware he had that much money. He never told anyone about his generosity. I have always admired that man.

Your greatest weakness? Honey macadamia ice-cream

Greatest strength? My resilience

What keeps you awake at night? Dexcom alarms and Kirrily kicks

Five dream dinner-party guests? Kirrily Chambers, Albert Einstein, Jesus Christ, Magda Szubanski, Robin Williams.

Your one wish? For the world to accept each other regardless of race, religion etc.

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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."