Casey MacDonald-Smith

Type 1

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at six years old (15 years ago). It was hard to understand what that meant at the time and it really fell onto my parents to care and manage my diabetes. At first I was on needles for insulin having approximately 5 a day and having anywhere between 5 and 10 BGL checks a day. Unfortunately, my little sister was also diagnosed with Type 1, two years later at just six months old. It was much harder watching a baby have to endure needle after needle than it ever was for me to have to have the same number each day.

Not long after my sister’s diagnosis we were both put on the Medtronic Insulin pump. This was a very different form of treatment and it was hard to get used to wearing a device constantly. My parents cared for us and our diabetes every day and every night. Having two children with type 1 isn’t easy on any family. My sister and I became Youth Ambassadors for JDRF and spent many days at Parliament House and State Parliament working to get funding for research and ultimately a cure. These activities stopped when my mum returned to full time work and I focused on high school.

School came with its own challenges all together. From not wanting to bolus at lunch while my friends were playing, to not wanting to do BGL checks in front of people I didn’t really know, to having to leave class to treat a hypoglycaemic event. I was very fortunate to have friends throughout my school years that not only understood diabetes but also helped me as much as they could.

As I got older, there were new challenges that arose with travelling, partying and balancing university and work. My partner has played a large role in my diabetes over the last few years and has become a great support. He has done BGL checks on me during 17-hour flights so I didn’t have to wake up, helped me manage the effects of alcohol on diabetes and the different treatments required, and, has always been a pillar of strength when I just needed to complain about my diabetes.

I completed my bachelor’s degree last year on my 21st birthday and have since begun working as an Internal Audit and Financial Advisory consultant in Canberra. Everyday there are new challenges to face with Type 1 diabetes and sometimes all you want to do is scream and ask why me? But I have been very fortunate that throughout my whole journey I have had an incredible support network built of family, friends and doctors/nutritionists/social workers who have enabled me to still live a great life with an autoimmune disease.

I hope that by sharing my story we can spread more understanding around Type 1 diabetes and ultimately find a cure.

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