“Diabetes shouldn’t stop you doing anything”
Dianne Hall, aged 67, living with type 1 diabetes
Living with type 1 diabetes for the past 51 years hasn’t stopped Dianne Hall from leading a fulfilling life full travel, adventure and discovery.
Dianne was diagnosed in 1969 at the age of 16, during a time where limited support, information and educational resources were available.
“I don’t remember it being traumatic doing the needles, but we did have big, thick, glass needles I had to boil and then keep in (methylated spirits) because we didn’t have disposable ones, so all that took a lot more time,” she recalls.
“I don’t remember having a diabetes educator back then either, you just had to manage on your own. I started off in hospital for three days to learn how to do things.”
Over the years, Dianne developed some key lifestyle habits to help keep her diabetes on track.
“I really am very conscious about staying healthy ever since I got diabetes,” she says.
“I’ve always eaten really well…I think the food I eat, walking, and watching my weight, it keeps me feeling healthy.”
While Dianne admits she has experienced her fair share of challenges while learning to use CGM and insulin pump technologies, she says it has been a game-changer in the way she manages her diabetes.
“It’s lifechanging — I love the t:slim (insulin pump),” she says.
“When I was on needles I had numerous hypos and some very scary ones.
“I think the best thing out now are the CGM sensors. I now suffer from hypo unawareness and can be dangerously low and not feel it, but with the sensors, I can watch what my blood glucose levels are doing and act before I go hypo.”
She adds that not knowing how to use her pump, or when it fails, has been the most stressful part of managing her diabetes.
“When my pumps aren’t working, or if the sensors don’t work properly, that is the most stressful part,” she says.
“Living with diabetes is OK as long as I can get the pumps and the sensors to work.”
In 2019, Dianne was awarded a 50-year Kellion Victory Medal, an accolade that recognises Australians who have lived well with insulin-dependent diabetes for 50 years or more.
Dianne is living proof that diabetes shouldn’t pose limitations in life, having travelled with her husband Geoff to the Hunan Province in China while volunteering for a not-for-profit organisation, International China Concern (ICC) to help care for vulnerable children — some who were born with disabilities — who were abandoned by their families and placed into government care.
When it came to managing her diabetes during their travels, one of the biggest challenges Dianne faced was limited access to diabetes supplies and local medical services.
“Where we lived, we couldn’t get medication, we couldn’t get insulin,” she recalls.
“But we ended up going, and to start with I took enough medication and insulin for six months, and all the pump supplies I had to take, which was quite a lot. But I had to make sure I had it all. It was quite stressful.”
But Dianne was determined to make it work and pushed through the challenges of managing her diabetes — so much so that their plans for six-month stint turned into nearly seven years living in China and volunteering for the ICC.
“It was just wonderful,” she says of the experience. “But I didn’t ever have to go to hospital for my diabetes.”
“So diabetes shouldn’t stop you doing anything.
“It’s something you’ve got to live with and you’ve just got to accept it, but still live life to the fullest and take care of yourself.”
Dianne’s advice to others who are struggling with their diabetes is to look after your mind and body.
“Eat well, exercise so that you stay mentally and physically healthy, and enjoy life,” she says.
To mark 100 years since the discovery of insulin, Diabetes WA is sharing 100 stories from West Aussies living with diabetes. If you would like to #DWAjointhefight and share your story, complete these questions.
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