I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in February 2018 in South Sydney. I was a 21-year-old semi-professional soccer player, a full-time account manager with a healthcare company and completing a full-time degree in Business with a major in Marketing. I was confused, scared and devastated at the thought of living an abnormal life to what I was currently living and I was worried about missing out on future opportunities. I didn’t know a lot about diabetes in general never mind living with it. My first comment to the Endocrinologist/Diabetic Educator when I was lying in the emergency department was:
“I understand I have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, all I want to know is how do I effectively manage this to live a normal life.”
My mind set instantly changed to figuring out how I can manage this while still living, loving and enjoying my life. I didn’t think it was possible to maintain a 6 day a week training schedule, completing assignments and exams, and dedicating my time and focus to my work, whilst managing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with diabetes. I have realised after 6 months of living with diabetes that it is very possible, and manageable, to ensure diabetes is a part of living your life, not my life revolving around having diabetes. I am still training full time, studying full-time and working full-time whilst maintaining an active social life.
I am very passionate about educating and advertising that a person living with diabetes can still live a healthy and normal lifestyle while managing diabetes. There were three key features that encouraged me to remain positive and determined to live the life I wanted to live. They were: education, support and advice.
Education is a key factor in understanding how to manage diabetes whilst living a completely normal life. Personally, the information I received was completely overwhelming and very in-depth. I tried to simplify the information and slowly learn the different tips and ideas that were being offered by the professionals. I found it effective to practically apply what I was reading in my literature to determine what best suited me in the learning process. It was important for me to understand the different management techniques needed to maintain my busy schedule.
Support was crucial for me to ensure my focus was on managing and understanding my diagnosis and not what other people had heard or read online. My family, friends and company made the news much easier to comprehend. I am very fortunate to have so many amazing people around me to help me live and learn throughout my diagnosis journey and beyond.
Advice was a factor that I incorporated later in my diagnosis journey when I was trying to apply myself fully into work, football and university. The best piece of advice I received was: “Zack, diabetes needs to fit into your life, not your life revolves around diabetes”. This was priceless for me, as I realised that I am grateful to be diagnosed with something that I can live with and that I can manage and still enjoy a wonderful life.