|" In the early days I found constantly thinking about diabetes and having to think about injections and carbohydrates and testing and all the things you just have to do incredibly stressful and upsetting. Thankfully that has all passed now I can just incorporate all aspects of diabetes management into my day."
Newly Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes
If you've just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes you're probably thinking - why me?
In no way is type 1 diabetes your fault. There was nothing you could have done to prevent it.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, your body can't turn the glucose from the food you eat into energy for your muscles and other cells of the body. Instead, the glucose accumulates in the blood and is excreted into the urine through the kidneys.
What causes it?
A lot of research is being done to find out what causes type 1 diabetes. While progress is being made there are unfortunately no clear answers as yet. Through research, we do know that:
- there is a genetic risk that pre-disposes people to develop type 1 diabetes
- something triggered your immune system to attack your insulin-producing cells
- your pancreas isn't working because of the damage inflicted by your immune system.
Your support team
At first, everything about type 1 diabetes can be confusing. The best way of looking after your diabetes is to draw on a team of health care professionals.
If possible, your team should include:
- an endocrinologist
- a diabetes educator
- a dietician
You might also want to get advice from:
- a psychologist
- an exercise physiologist
It is important that you find a team that you're comfortable with. Don't be afraid to ask questions - your team is there to help you and answer your questions.
The JDRF Peer Support Program is also here to help. JDRF can put you in touch with a volunteer who has been through the experience of type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and can offer you unique insights.
Managing type 1 diabetes
Managing type 1 diabetes is all about balance. You'll manage factors that lower your blood glucose (like insulin and exercise) with those which raise blood glucose (like food and stress hormones).
When glucose levels swing too far in either direction it can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) or hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose). Over time these swings can damage the tiny blood vessels in your organs. This damage can lead to long term health complications like nerve damage, blindness, heart failure and kidney disease.
Talking to other people about your diagnosis might be hard but it's important to build a support network.
- Friends and Family - Don't keep your diabetes a secret. Telling your friends and family about your diagnosis can help you move on and accept it. Be prepared for lots of questions! Being open will help others understand what type 1 diabetes is all about.
- School/Uni - It is a good idea to meet with your teacher(s) to run through what type 1 diabetes means and what to do for areas like food, exercise, hypos and sick days.
- Work - Whether you tell your employer or work colleagues about your diabetes is completely your decision. All your medical information is confidential unless your having type 1 diabetes has safety implications for others.
What about my dreams and plans for the future?
Diabetes does not have to stop you, your child or your loved one from living a full and active life. With the right diabetes care and management there is no reason why you can't become a:
- a professional athlete like NRL star Brett Stuart
- a singer like Marcia Hines
- a politician like Senator Guy Barnett
All these accomplished celebrities have type 1 diabetes.
How can JDRF help?
JDRF is dedicated to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications through the support of the best and most promising medical research.
With our monthly type 1 diabetes newsletter, you will stay up to date on the latest research breakthroughs in the search for a cure for type 1 diabetes as well as getting connected to the type 1 diabetes community.
Remember, you are not alone - JDRF is here to help.
Information for parents
- Caring for Diabetes in Children and Adolescents: A parents manual
- Children's Hospital at Westmead
- Diabetes Kids and Teens
Further information and useful links
- JDRF International
- Beyond Blue
- Diabetes Counselling Online
- Diabetes Australia
- Reality Check
- eXT1D - How to exercise with type 1 diabetes