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Kirrily - Pharmacist / CDE

Q & A

You've been managing type 1 diabetes for a long time. What have you learnt about yourself, and people around you in your day to day life? That I am very mentally strong! And that the best person to manage a chronic disease is you (along with the care of a team that suits you). Find a team that suits you not a team that tells you what to do-they should support you, not tell you what to do and how it should be done!

People of all ages that mange health conditions often experience indirect discrimination, whether in the workplace, socially, school or even in family circles. Given you have gone through a number of different stages of life while living with type 1 diabetes, how have you coped with these periods, and what do you feel could be done to lighten the load for others in the same or similar situations? Support and education-these are the keys! I believe most discrimination comes from a lack of understanding and fear. We need to take this away from individuals and make everyone more aware. Better support for all those living with a chronic illness reduces isolation and this will hopefully reduce discrimination.

You're a professional working in the area of health, which I am sure exposes you to a range of situations and issues which are a direct result of living with type 1 diabetes. What inspired you to take up this line of work, and how do you balance your professional and personal endeavours with the people you care for? The inspiration came from the misunderstanding of type 1. I would like to see the community have a much better understanding of what those with a chronic illness deal with from day to day. I balance my endeavours with empathy and lots of Bikram yoga!

I understand you have a great deal of knowledge and understanding of type 1 diabetes, both professionally and intimately. So when you become the patient or the person under a health professionals care, what is your internal dialogue like, and what is your approach to your relationship with those that support you in your health management? Unfortunately I have very little tolerance for those health professionals that do not enter into patient centred care or who have an understanding of type 1 diabetes. Often my internal dialogue consists of reminding myself that there are many individuals that do not understand type 1 despite the fact they are health professionals, and I need to help educate them without getting frustrated.

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? I try not to let it stop me doing anything that I want to do but it takes extra planning in order to do things that others take for granted. The biggest impact is probably on my sleep since I have to be vigilant regarding hypoglycaemia overnight so alarms are always being set!

Do you think people are still confused, about what type 1 diabetes is and the impact in has on all areas of life? Most people think that insulin is a cure for type 1 diabetes and as long as you take your insulin and don't eat "sugar" then you are "cured". It is so much mere than this. Type 1 is 1% science and 99% art!

What do you think are the biggest changes of those living with this condition? I am not sure that I can speak for others but certainly for myself it is complications, both short term and long term. The most prevalent for me is severe hypoglycaemic unawareness where I am unable to detect when I am dropping low and have no ability to treat myself. This is especially significant at night.

What first drew you to get involved with the issues surrounding type 1 diabetes, and connecting with Type 1 Voice? I wanted to make a difference in the misunderstanding of type 1 diabetes and use the knowledge that I had gained to raise awareness. So often individuals are blamed for "uncontrolled" blood glucose levels when it is completely beyond their scope to have any ability to influence them. It is important for not only people with diabetes but also health professionals and the general public to understand it is not our fault!

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? To forgive myself when things go wrong! It is difficult to take your own advice even when you are older but it is important to remember that often type 1 has a mind of its own.

Fast 5

Who do you most admire? Pink-she has turned her life around and really seems to have it all!

Your greatest weakness? I worry alot

Greatest strength? I am very strong minded

What keeps you awake at night? Hypos

Five dream dinner-party guests? Susan Alberto (founder of JDRF in Australia), Pink, Barack Obama, James Read ( my partner) Meg Ryan

Your one wish? To be happy

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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."