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Never too late to learn more about type 1 diabetes

After more than 30 years living with diabetes, John Lewis picked up a few new tricks that have made a dramatic difference to his diabetes management.

When John Lewis was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 37 years ago (shortly after his 30th birthday), he was lucky enough to have a partner who understood what he was going through. His wife Leeanne had been living with type 1 since she was five, so was able to help John adjust to the realities of diabetes management.

“I didn’t get the ‘why me’ syndrome, which I believe is common,” John says. “I’d lived with my wife for 12 years, I think, by then. It was just a general part of life. So I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get on with it’, which actually helped me accept it pretty much from the start.”

Leeanne was also able to help him get used to the sticky business of needles.

“It took me a long, long time to actually inject myself and I don’t know why. Leeanne did it from the start and then, in the end, she said ‘bugger this, you do it yourself!” John laughs. “I had no choice. After I’d done it once or twice, I thought, ‘this isn’t too bad’.”

The biggest change to John’s diabetes management is far more recent. He says attending one of Diabetes WA’s OzDAFNE sessions has transformed his health.

“I’ve got heaps more energy for doing things. My blood pressure’s improved and generally my health just feels so much better from not spiking up and down.”

Although John had attended other education sessions and seen an endocrinologist for years, it was the extended nature of the OzDAFNE program that helped its lessons sink in.

“Usually, when you saw a health professional, you got your 15 minute block and that was it. They would talk out of a book, give you some pamphlets to go away with and that was the education. It just didn’t stick. With OzDAFNE, you’ve got a week. You can go home and you can think about it and you can go back the next day and ask a question.”

“I actually think OzDAFNE should be compulsory for anybody diagnosed with type 1.”

That in-depth interaction and support allowed John to finally get on top of a few things that helped him improve his management.

“I actually learned how to carb count. It finally made sense. One of the other changes was I was using long needles and injecting in the wrong spots. The insulin wasn’t working properly. By the end of the week, I had dramatically reduced the amount of insulin I was using.”

As well as the support from educators, the chance to talk diabetes with his peers proved very helpful. Listening to feedback from others helped John decide to try the Omnipod, after hesitating about pumps for several years, despite advice from health professionals.

“Speaking to people that are in the room, who have the same problems and issues as you, is hugely better than a one-on-one with an endo at a hospital.”

John has since completed several other Diabetes WA courses and is evangelical about encouraging others like him to do the same.

“I actually think OzDAFNE should be compulsory for anybody diagnosed with type 1, because I don’t think there’s enough education at the start. That is my experience. I think if every diabetic was given an OzDAFNE course or something similar, it would make so much difference.” 

Find out more about OzDAFNE.

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