We were living in a small country town when I was diagnosed at nine years old. I fell extremely ill and the doctor told me that I had just ‘come down with something’, but I could hardly get off the couch, could hardly speak because my mouth was so dry and within a week I had lost 10kg. The same doctor took one look at me and told me to go to the local hospital to get my BSL tested. My BSL came back at 50, and the nurses were shocked I hadn’t gone into a coma.
My mum drove to Tamworth Hospital to be treated as our town’s hospital didn’t have the services to assist – but it was an hour away. I can still remember dozing off in the car (more than likely going into a coma) and mum kept saying “Sylvia, stay awake! Don’t fall asleep!” trying to keep me alert while driving. I spent a week in the hospital and was taught by the nurses how to do my needles.
I have always been a fitness enthusiast and have led an active lifestyle. I competed in my first fitness competition in September 2014 which required over three months of strict dieting, training and 110% dedication. This preparation was sometimes a challenge with my type 1 diabetes, mainly due to the risk of hypos. I didn’t place, but I was honoured to receive the Luke Wood achievement award in recognition of competing with type 1 diabetes. Following this I competed in the NABBA/WFF Sydney Grand Classic in the bikini division and placed third.
In 2018 I competed in the Sparke Helmore Triathlon. My goal of competing in the event was to inspire other diabetes and show that despite having this condition, you can still lead an active lifestyle and participate in sporting events such as a triathlon. I chose to compete in the Enticer Race and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I had a smile on my face the entire time! I wanted to complete the race without having to stop due to diabetes (such as a hypo etc) and achieved this on the day. I did stop during the transitions to quickly check my BSL and make sure this was within an acceptable range. I ended up coming 4th place within my division and was extremely happy with this result. I am now looking for my next challenge!
I am a strong believer in not letting diabetes stop you from following your dreams. To me, diabetes is very much a part of your life, but not something that should automatically put up barriers as to what you can and can’t do – there are always workarounds and different ways to do things, it might just take a little extra work or preplanning.
Positivity, strong support networks and the desire to achieve your goals are all things that will see you succeed. I am happy to speak to others about my story and share thoughts on type one diabetes and an active lifestyle, so if you would like to chat please reach out.