Margaret stands among the most resilient

Monday, 8 March 2021

International Women’s Day and its theme #ChooseToChallenge will highlight many courageous, resilient women. Margaret Cormack, 74, deserves to stand among them.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1979, Margaret “chooses to challenge” how she lives with her condition. Every day she takes control of her own destiny, despite blood glucose levels that don’t always play fairly. She has lived her adult life on remote properties in regional Australia.

Gentle eye and warm smile

Margaret Cormack

Margaret Cormack

With short, gently curling light grey hair, Margaret makes the effort to be stylish. She turns a gentle eye on the world and meets all with a warm smile and a kind word.

She lives on Crystalbrook, a 2,500-hectare cattle property with her husband Dudley.

The worst of times

Margaret says the worst time in her 42 years with diabetes was when she was first diagnosed.

“I didn’t know anything about it. The idea that I had to be on insulin for the rest of my life worried me. The needles we had back then weren’t anything like we use today.

“If I’d had any other alternative rather than type 1 diabetes, I would have taken it.”

Knowing more about diabetes

Margaret wants people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes to know that it gets easier the more you know about the condition.

“I did the OzDAFNE course in June 2019, and that was very helpful,” Margaret said. The name of the course is an acronym for Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating. Margaret says it helped round out her knowledge about her diabetes.

Hypos were an ongoing threat

Long hot days alone in the homestead while her husband and son were in the fields, about 20 hypoglycaemic (dangerously low blood glucose levels) episodes a month, and severe hypo unawareness were not enough to bow the diminutive Margaret.

“There have been many times I was in strife. We’ve had to call the ambulance a couple of times, and it takes about an hour to get here.“

Dudley and Lesley

The greatest risk to Margaret, who stands 157cm and weighs 51kg, was being alone if she experienced a hypo.

“Dudley and our son Lesley have been terrific,” she says. “No one can explain their instincts about when they should come home to check on me. They just always turned up if I was in trouble.”

CGM and Poppers

Margaret says Poppers and Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) have been the biggest changes that have eased her journey with diabetes.

“We didn’t have little juice containers 40 years ago and jelly beans didn’t bring my glucose levels back up in the same way juice does. I always take a Popper out with me these days. They’re very convenient.”

CGM, and the warning it gives Margaret if her glucose levels are trending downwards, have given both her and Dudley the greatest peace of mind since she developed diabetes.

‘He has been very, very good’

Margaret credits her Credentialled Diabetes Educator, Kathy Snars, who also lives with type 1 diabetes, with helping her adjust to the new technology that has relieved a lot of the burden of her condition.

She saves her greatest praise for God.

“God has always been with me, and He has been very, very good.”

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