Courtney Travis – Diabetes story
My name is Courtney and I am 25, living with Type 1 Diabetes since the age of 6. That makes 19 years with T1D.
Diabetes wasn’t unfamiliar in our family with my dad being type 2. Mum picked up on the warning signs quite quickly. I was drinking litres of water a day. I was sleeping like I hadn’t slept and for a 6 year losing weight and having no energy – my parents knew something was wrong. Mum tested my blood sugar at home with my dad’s blood sugar machine and it read 27. Safe to say we left pretty quickly to the doctor, rushed to hospital and not to long after that my whole life changed.
Sometimes I consider being diagnosed so young a ‘good thing’ because at that age, I didn’t really know anything else BUT my childhood was also taken away from me with the daily challenges both mentally and physically.
I have short term and longterm effects from living with something that I’ve had to come to the realisation won’t ever go away which hasn’t come easy. I was diagnosed in 2002 with little technology or knowledge around type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed in New Zealand and I was the 45th child in an area of over 150 thousand people.
My parents managed a lot of my diabetes management until I wanted to ‘take the reigns’ and since then I’ve faced the most challenges. I went through what they call diabetes burn-out for over a decade. No amount of professional help, family and friends help or support helped with the feelings I was feeling living with diabetes. I hated pricking my finger and would only give my insulin at bare minimum. I went through 3 different insulin pumps and nothing made anything better for me.
I moved to Australia in 2010 & gained a whole new perspective on my life and how I wanted to manage my diabetes. Unfortunately not too long after that – I was diagnosed with a diabetic related complication called ‘proliferative diabetic retinopathy’. In short, my doctor told me there was no going back and I was living with a sight threatening eye disease. The diagnosis really pushed me even further to find support and help because I was so frightened for my future.
Along the way I was also told that my diabetes management (meaning my blood sugar control) needed to be ‘perfect’ – I needed to have lower blood sugars otherwise my eyes didn’t stand a chance. I started researching smaller blood sugar machine and ones that looked nicer to use every-day and I saw the flash-glucose (FGM) and then the DANII Foundation was a few scrolls down. I started on the FGM until I submitted an application for a 12-month Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) scholarship through the DANII Foundation. That’s when my life changed for the better in more ways than I could have wished, and I couldn’t be more grateful!
Having a CGM has not only helped my mental health with the data that comes from this awesome technology and thank-goodness for minimal finger pricks. Not to mention the alarms I receive along with my carer for high and low blood sugars!
By using a CGM I’ve seen some massive improvements in how my circulation in my feet feels. Having more of a constant check on your levels is a game changer let alone a life changer. I have found the biggest success using a CGM is how much my eye disease has slowed down and the further apart my appointments for eye-injections are. The doctors were right when they said my control needed to be great and using a CGM – I SEE THAT AND I SEE WHY and on that note I CAN STILL SEE because I have access to a CGM through the DANII Foundation. CGM has absolutely changed my life and needs to be accessed and affordable by ALL!
It scares me what the future will be like not being able to afford CGM. Although diabetes isn’t easy and the stats show we make an extra 180 decisions a day – there is hope and there is light and thanks to DANII we aren’t ever alone.
Courtney Travis – Testimony
I’m 25 years and I was diagnosed as T1 at age 6. I love being near the water. I love spending time outside around nature and plants. I enjoy gardening. I love music and could dance all day. Diabetic related complications like my proliferative diabetic retinopathy causes me everyday challenges both mentally and emotionally which then impacts the care and management for my diabetes.
This is second year having a CGM Scholarship through the DANII Foundation and has changed my life. I have better control of my diabetes for long term health issues like my eyes and further complications.
The relief of having a CGM when you aren’t hypo aware anymore is great.
I am passionate about raising awareness for the DANII foundation because I know how much you have helped me and so many others.
Having a CGM has really impacted positively on my mental health also my family can see how much having a CGM and the support of the DANII foundation has helped me.
Ayla – Jade Wheeler – 2021 CGM Scholarship recipients
My name is Ayla-Jade. I’m mum to a full-of-life 5year old boy and beautifully cheeky 3year old girls. I’m also a Uni Student studying Education, an active member of my small remote mining-town community and a FIFO (fly-in fly-out) wife.
Before CGM it was constantly on my mind that with the sometimes-unexpected nature of being a Type 1 Diabetic that something could happen. With my husband away from home at an even more remote mine site for most of each fortnight and my children being so young there was no one who would be able to help if the worst should occur. The idea of my children being put through that or not being able to care for them is the most terrifying thing I can think of. We looked again and again at CGM to help alert me if something was going wrong but being a stay at home mum and student relying on a single income it was just not on the cards for us financially without making my family sacrifice.
Enter the amazing DANII Foundation. Thanks to their subscription program I am able to go to sleep at night without worrying if I will be there in the morning to care for my children. I am able to focus on life and fun and be there and present with the knowledge that I have this little sensor helping me keep my life in balance. CGM is not only lifesaving, it has given me back a quality of life that I didn’t realise I had been missing.
Isabella Charanduk Diabetes story and Testimony
I was diagnosed with T1D in June 2019 at the age of 18, only weeks before my 19th birthday. When I was diagnosed, it all felt very sudden and unexpected. However, since learning about the warning symptoms of T1D, I had actually been experiencing these early signs for at least two months before I became seriously ill.
At the time, I was halfway through my second last university semester of my degree. Before that semester, I had just been on a holiday to Europe for three weeks with my family. It is on this trip that I now notice I was experiencing symptoms such as extreme thirst and weight loss. However, I never really knew anything about T1D before my diagnosis, so I was unable to understand why I was so thirsty. I really didn’t give it a second thought. I also lost about 5kg while on holiday and continued to lose another 2-3kgs over the next 5 weeks from the time I returned from my trip to when I was diagnosed.
Not understanding why, I became extremely fatigued and unwell one particular weekend, after experiencing mild symptoms for several weeks before. I simply thought I was tired from university because I am the type of person who is always 100% committed to everything I do. So, I decided to take both Saturday and Sunday to rest, not being able to do anything but lay in bed (normally I would be spending most of my time studying for mid-semester assessments). By Sunday night, I could barely stand up long enough to have a quick shower. Despite my parents urging me to seek medical help, I thought I just needed a good night’s rest and I would see how I felt in the morning.
However, I barely made it to midnight without having to constantly get up and go to the bathroom. I was also becoming extremely out of breath. At this point, my parents demanded they take me to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with T1D. My BGLs were 37mmol/L. I can’t recall what my ketones were, because I probably didn’t understand and I actually don’t remember anyone telling me what they were. However, I was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
I had no idea what was wrong with me at the time, despite knowing people with T1D. I had never taken the time to understand this disease or its warning signs, because I really didn’t know what I didn’t know. T1D is truly a disease that can be so misunderstood unless it affects you or someone you know.
From this day, there was a lot of learning involved and I am still learning more every day. From understanding carbohydrates and other food groups, to knowing how to plan exercise around meals and insulin, to understanding how stress can physically affect my BGLs. There is always something new to learn.
When I was diagnosed, I was told I wouldn’t be able to go back to university for quite some time. However, I was determined not to let this stop me from finishing my degree as planned. So, after spending 24 hours in the ICU and another 5 days in hospital, I was back to university that next Monday.
Since being diagnosed, my CGM has truly been the greatest life saver (literally). Because I qualified for the CGM subsidy, I had the Dexcom G5 only one week after being released from hospital. I don’t know what I would have done without it, predominately because my body started to produce small amounts of insulin again and I also experienced high levels of insulin sensitivity during the honeymoon period after my diagnosis. Before understanding how to adjust my own insulin levels, this meant I was experiencing a hypo (low) almost every night. But thanks to my CGM I was alerted about every single one of these lows so I could eat and prevent a very dangerous situation.
My CGM has been the one thing that has given my parents a little bit of peace of mind with my diabetes management. It is an amazing piece of technology that we can all rely on to know that I can prevent dangerous lows when my blood sugar drops. I have had many times where I have experienced rapid drops in my BGLs, despite still following my normal routines. Regardless of what we do, sometimes our bodies will just react and behave in ways we cannot predict and that is why CGMs are absolutely essential for ALL T1Ds. T1D is not something we choose to get or have and, at the moment, there is no cure, so it is absolutely unbelievable to me that the Australian government does not yet understand the importance of subsidising CGMs for ALL Aussie T1D. These devices SAVE LIVES!
I am turning 21 this year (2021), which means the government will now see me as capable of self-funding thousands and thousands of dollars every year just for a little device that helps me stay alive. When in fact, this is not the case for so many Australians. Whether you are a young person not able to pay for your CGMs, or you’re a parent sacrificing your own health to help support your family and children, there are so many Australians who are unable to access the life-saving technology of CGMs all because of the subsidy cut off.
My greatest struggle since being diagnosed is the fact that T1D is so unpredictable. I will go through times of excellent BGLs and then I will experience not so great BGLs, even when doing almost the same routines and activities. However, with this disease being one that is life long, we just have to learn not to be too hard on ourselves when trying to play the role of our own human pancreas. There are also small daily obstacles that we face, even trivial things like what clothes to wear that will be suitable to give insulin injections or to wear an insulin pump. I personally use insulin pens, which means I prefer to inject in my tummy; however, sometimes I have to inject in my thigh because of what I might be wearing. But this is just a little convenience and reminder of our diabetes that is easily overcome.
I first learned about the DANII Foundation through Instagram. After being diagnosis, I became increasingly interested in following other type one diabetics and T1D related accounts. Eventually, I came across the DANII Foundation and have continued to learn more about the incredible work they do to support those who cannot afford CGMs.
In April, I decided to participate in the DANII Foundation workout challenge because I wanted to be able to help someone else who doesn’t have access to CGMs. I was so blessed to receive some very generous donations from those around me. These donors were passionate about donating to the DANII Foundation because they know how important CGMs are for me and for providing my family with more peace of mind. I am so glad we could help make a difference for even just one T1D.
Jason Gunther – Diabetes story and Testimony
I am 45 years old and I was diagnosed 24 years ago at age 19.
I’m an active person that loves outdoors. Dirt bike rider (Finke desert race is an awesome event I like to do, the training and preparation is demanding let alone riding a dirt bike 440 kilometers through the desert over two days as fast as you can managing blood glucose levels to me is pretty awesome in some of the most isolated toughest and roughest conditions) fishing, dad to Ethan and Chelsea.
When I was diagnosed I went to some training and education courses through NSW health. The things that stuck in my mind were if you don’t keep things in control or if you don’t do this or don’t do that you will either die, go blind, kidneys or liver will fail or arms and legs will have to be amputated. Pretty scary. Now we have technology to dramatically reduce the above and live a closer to normal existence.
Having type 1 and doing finger stick testing is like watching a trailer to a movie. Having CGM is like watching the full movie. The information you receive is the full picture of what is happening day to day minute to minute which is life changing with better health and reduced likelihood of complications due to Type 1 Diabetes.
Thankful to the DANII Foundation for giving me the opportunity of the CGM Scholarship, this gives me peace of mind for one year that I will be able to control better my diabetes.
Jason Gunther – Testimony (2020 and 2021 CGM Scholarship recipients)
CGM has dramatically changed my life in so many ways.
Seeing my blood glucose levels visually in real time on my pump allows me to be in tighter control along the ups and downs of T1d is one of those changes. I have never felt better physically and just as important mentally since my diagnosis in 1994, after recently starting CGM and my hba1c has improved
My favourite part is low blood sugar warnings and that you can treat them earlier which is a major safety component.
CGM makes my life better, safer, closer to normal in so many ways.
I love the freedom of living life to the full, living the best life I can, dirt bike riding is one of my life’s passion’s that I love to do. CGM allows me to enjoy life to the fullest.
Why should I pay so much for life saving technology and technology that helps me live a closer to normal existence that helps keeps me out of hospital. That helps keep complications to a minimum.
That could warn me about hypoglycaemia in my sleep which can be fatal.
Please add this to the pharmaceutical benefit scheme.
I think my life is worth it. Jason Gunther https://www.facebook.com/T1ddirtbiker/
WHY I WASN’T EXCITED TO TURN 21 By: Libby Wilson DANII CGM Scholarship Recipient
Words cannot describe how deeply grateful I am for the opportunities and freedom there is with the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM).For just a few years I had the privilege of accepting Government funded CGM, which in turn, improved my HBA1C, and significantly reduced my hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia episodes.
Devastatingly, last year I turned 21 – I was no longer eligible for subsidised access to the CGM. My Gift of CGM was taken away! This put me under significant and serious financial, physical and emotional stress. I knew immediately I would not be able to afford my freedom and better health.
Science, statistics and several studies have proven how extremely beneficial a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) is for an insulin-dependent diabetic. So, I will not repeat the evidential facts. Instead, I would like if you could read into a small glimpse of my daily life and let you decide just how important CGM funding for all is.
I would like to think I am a good example of understanding both worlds of nondiabetic and diabetic living. For example, I was diagnosed a week before my 18th birthday, almost 4 years ago. Which meant I had grown up normal. I understand how most of us think about diabetes, I mean exercising and healthy eating seems to work for people… right? False. Type 1 diabetes is so much more than that! It is repetitive injecting multiple times per day and night, suffering bruises. Falling extremely ill, enduring high ketones which is acidity in the blood which can kill within hours. Managing hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia – can also kill, but within minutes. Pricking fingers until blood comes out, up to but not limited to 12 times per day without the CGM.
Doing this forever is a lot. Waking up exhausted. Dealing with UTI’s -turned kidney infections. Seizures, arthritis, tonsillitis, retinopathy, migraines, infected wounds, IBS and that’s just to name a few short-term effects. Not to mention the severely damaging and deadly long-term side effects.
This is on top of everybody’s everyday dilemmas and activities – such as working full time, studying, saving money, weddings, funerals, birthday parties, travel, friendships, relationships, dating, cleaning, errands, holidays, exercise, cooking, pets, family, friends and more.
Being diabetic is excruciatingly hard, frustrating and exhausting. It is not rewarding and there are none to very little upsides. It is time consuming, emotionally draining, physically painful and expensive to say the least. It is relentless. There will never be a moment in my life from this day on where I won’t have to manage or think about diabetes. It never takes a break. Even when I’m asleep it is still there.
As I approached my 21st birthday I also applied to the DANII Foundation for a CGM Scholarship. Thankfully, I was granted #daniisgift to help me through these next 12 months. Technology like the CGM lets me feel somewhat normal. It takes the pressure and stress off worrying “will I make it through the night?”… CGM helps ease the anxiety of doing activities that will likely alter my sugar-levels dramatically without my noticing. To give an example, even the degree of weather temperature can drop or spike blood sugars to a dangerous or deadly level.
With the CGM I feel more in control of my own body, it helps me live a somewhat normal life and my general health continues to improve. My CGM has become my life-saver – I hold down a great job, I pay my taxes, do activities, recover, sleep at night, then do it all again.
Sacha Walker Diabetes story and Testimony
33 years T1, 13 years pumping and 4 years on CGM, wow how time has changed for T1’s!
I became hypo unaware after my son was born and have had some pretty severe hypos over the years, once, fitting in the middle of the night, requiring ambulance assistance.
CGM gives me peace of mind, knowing my pump will alert me to low or high changes in my blood glucose levels and will auto suspend when my levels are dangerously low. It has literally saved my life on many occasions.
My recent hBA1c came down from 7.3 to 6.2 in the space of two months on my new pump. I’ve never had levels that low!
My ophthalmologist, at my last appointment, said I had completely reversed the bleeds behind my eyes since using CGM and having such amazing control.
The benefits are endless, none more than peace of mind. My husband is a shift worker and can go to work knowing I’ll be safe from dead in bed syndrome.
I couldn’t live without it now. It’s not a ‘convenience’ or ‘luxury’, its life saving and gives me as close to normal a life of a non diabetic. I am a busy person, working two jobs, I love my exercise and social life, I can actually enjoy life as a T1 because I know my CGM will keep me safe.
It’s been a tough and stressful year, and I can never thank the DANII Foundation enough for this scholarship and promise to continue to advocate for change so CGM is affordable for all that need it now and in the future.