Sarah Klau

Type 1

I grew up in Yorketown three hours’ drive from Adelaide. I was the youngest of three children and was involved in music and community sports from a young age.  When I was 15, my music got me a scholarship to Immanuel College in Adelaide but while there, my netball took over and in 2016 I was signed with the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

While I was playing with the Thunderbirds that a routine blood test came back showing slightly elevated blood glucose levels.

The doctor asked if I’d had something sweet to eat before the test, and because I’d had a muesli bar she asked me to come back in for another test. That one also came back quite high. So they gave me a monitor and I had to start pricking my finger regularly so I could keep tabs on my glucose readings.

I’d have to regularly check my glucose levels and once I wasn’t able to obtain a reading under a certain level, it meant my body needed some extra help and I was put on tablets.

I was initially diagnosed with a rare form of diabetes called MODY, which I managed with diet and medication for two years.

In 2017, I moved to the New South Wales Swifts for the inaugural season of the new Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) league. If it wasn’t for the constant monitoring of the team, I’d probably still be putting her body at risk with high glucose readings.

I wasn’t aware of the severity of it and the potential dangers of training with high blood glucose levels. I trialled a monitor on her arm for two weeks and kept a food diary, which gave the doctors data to analyse.

In February 2019 I was given the news that I had developed type 1 diabetes.

It probably shouldn’t have come as a shock. I’d known for two years it was going to happen. But I guess you can never be truly prepared to hear you have a chronic condition that’s going to impact the rest of your life.

With no history of diabetes in my family, I did question why me?  But in the following months I put everything into training in the hope I’d make the Australian team for the World Cup.

I was thrilled to be named in the team. We had such a great tournament. It disappointing to be beaten by New Zealand Ferns in the final by one single, heartbreaking goal. But we got our own back a few months later when we beat the Ferns to win the Constellation Cup.

Playing at the elite level and handling my diabetes diagnosis was daunting. It’s constantly at the forefront of my mind. I’m always wondering what my levels are – are they too low, do I need to check them? What have I eaten? How many carbs were in that muesli bar?

My biggest challenge is trying to work out whether I’m having pre-game jitters or whether my glucose is dropping and, during a game adrenalin makes my levels rise, so I often have to adjust accordingly at half time.

Publicly disclosing my diabetes diagnosis was a decision I didn’t take lightly but the feedback from the public has been amazing. I didn’t want any sympathy but it’s just been really special. A whole different community have reached out and shared their stories with me.

2019 was definitely a big year for me. I went from a tough pre-season, to playing for Australia at the World Cup, to winning the SSN championship with the Swifts and beating the Ferns for the Constellation Cup, all while managing my new diabetes diagnosis and completing my Masters of Occupational Therapy.

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