In 100 stories for 100 years of insulin

“I am incredibly thankful for the flexibility and ease of managing my diabetes thanks to technology.”

April Welsh, 27, type 1 diabetes

For April Welsh, diabetes has been a part of her world since she was three years old.

But despite having lived with the disease for most of her life, she admits that technology has played such a big role in the way she manages the condition that she doesn’t know how she’d cope without it.

“I am incredibly thankful for the flexibility and ease of managing my diabetes thanks to technology,” she says.

“I use the Medtronic 770G insulin pump along with CGM which includes algorithms to keep my blood sugar levels within range. This means if I’m unable to eat lunch until 3pm in the afternoon, my blood sugar levels won’t suffer.

“Similarly, it means I can go into meetings and get on with my day-to-day workload with complete confidence that my levels are where they should be.”

April was just six when she made history as the youngest child to start insulin pump therapy right here in WA.

“I haven’t looked back since — I absolutely love using a pump and the freedom it gives me to live my life as I choose,” she says.

“Technology has changed and progressed so quickly since then. It is crazy to think that over the relatively ‘short’ 23 years I’ve had type 1, my diabetes management has changed from multiple injections a day on different types of insulin, to an insulin pump, an insulin pump with built in algorithms, later CGM technology and now using Auto Mode on the Medtronic 770G.”

Even though her insulin pump and CGM have helped her stay on top of her diabetes, April admits she has experienced her fair share of challenges.

“There is no day off from having Diabetes – you have diabetes on your birthday, on Christmas morning and all of life’s milestones,” she says.

“The mental challenge of dealing with diabetes and the relentless nature of never being able to have a break is something that still affects me from time to time.”

She adds that having a support network around her has helped her navigate the challenges posed by her diabetes.

“I’ve realised that having a team for support is key,” she says.

“This team consists of my diabetes healthcare professionals, my family, my partner, my friends and colleagues. Learning to accept it is OK to lean on others for help has been one of my biggest lessons in terms of not letting diabetes affect my mental health – I’ve become much more aware of how I’m feeling and comfortable to share this with my team.”

Born into a motorsport family, April was determined to pursue her passion in the world of Formula Vee racing.

In 2014, that determination saw her become Australia’s first female Forumla Vee driver with type 1 diabetes, where she has gone on to compete in numerous national events.

“I used to go along with Dad to the track and very much grew up in the pits,” she recalls.

“I was often found with a can of Mr Sheen in hand cleaning Dads car after every race. I guess it’s no surprise I was the next generation to sit behind the wheel.”

She adds that having a diabetes support team has been pivotal to her racing career.

“My support team has very much been my immediate family, however racing with Type 1 Diabetes is incredibly complex and has required a team of its own,” she says.

“It takes a team of people to compete in motorsport and a team of people to manage diabetes. I’m so thankful for the people in my life who assist me with both!”

 

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