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LIFE WITH DIABETES – A ROLLERCOASTER I’M PROUD OF

By Mairéad Parker, teacher and mum-to-be living with Type 1

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional about your diabetes management. Individual symptoms, situations and circumstances may vary.

I was a 4-year-old child when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Dehydration and drinking water from the bathroom tap during the night, because I couldn’t reach the kitchen sink, were some of the initial signs along with weight loss and constant bathroom trips.

My mother was catapulted into being my nurse and doctor all-in-one. When I look back at some of my original insulin paraphernalia, it strikes me how lucky I am with the phenomenal advancements in technology which have flipped living with diabetes on its head!

Knowledge is power

In my teenage years, I was living a double life. One half was the happy, enthusiastic Mairéad who was the same as everyone else and could do and achieve anything without diabetes standing in my way. The other part involved me hiding my condition and avoiding finger pricks to check my glucose levels.  I was in denial and hoped that by not talking about diabetes that the condition would somehow disappear. It was something that I was embarrassed about.

Typical teenager rebellion I guess, but reflecting back, I had no idea about monitoring my condition and how it could be managed or incorporated into an active life, instead of taking over my life. I feared that it would stop me being the active, sporty, outgoing person that I was, and to be honest I worried that I would be treated differently because of it!

As the years progressed, knowledge and education were powerful.

The best present

A big breakthrough came around five years ago by way of a random Christmas present from my boyfriend. At the time, it didn’t seem like a very romantic Christmas present, but in hindsight it was the most thoughtful of gifts I’ve ever received.

Yes my boyfriend bought me a diabetes-related present: an Abbott FreeStyle Libre system including sensors and the starter kit. Little did I know how life-changing this flash glucose monitoring system would be for me.

My busy life

Well - I am a primary school teacher living in Dublin. No two days are ever the same. I adore my busy job. My break times are short so having the FreeStyle Libre sensor is efficiency at its best! I can effortlessly scan my sensor using my phoneΔ en route to lunch break, allowing me to make quick decisions and prioritise things.

I can also discreetly scan my sensor during class. When I am out for a walk with my dog or a run, I can scan prior to exercise and even during it to ensure that my glucose levels are within range. It is great peace of mind and it allows me to identify patternsφ and eliminates the guess work!

A new adventure

Oh and to add to the mystery of no two days being the same, I am pregnant and due my first baby in September so things are going to get very busy. The FreeStyle Libre sensor has been amazing in terms of sharing data with my maternity hospital teamǁ. They look at my graphs₼ and offer advice over the phone each week in relation to my insulin ratios and glucose control.

This technology and data have provided so much information during my pregnancy to my healthcare team, giving both the healthcare team and I huge peace of mind, in particular during a global pandemic.

As a first-time expectant parent, it has been so reassuring to have detailed information to provide to my healthcare team, which allows them to provide me with optimum care. Using my FreeStyle LibreLink appΔ, I can add in notes, anything that I might alter the following day and log my carbohydrates and insulin taken each day.

My superpower

People often ask me if diabetes has ever stopped me achieving my hopes and dreams. With the amazing advances in technology, I can honestly say that it hasn’t. Nowadays I view my diabetes as being something to be proud of.

Type 1 diabetes is all about balance. It is a constant learning curve and a bit of a rollercoaster. I love raising awareness about the condition and encourage conversations about the topic. This led me to setting up my Instagram account.

I have a job that I love, am expecting my first baby and am keeping active and healthy. With the FreeStyle Libre system there is no more guess work. It gives me peace of mind and an inner strength and power that make me who I am. Type 1 diabetes is my superpower!

Mairéad Parker is a primary school teacher in Dublin and a FreeStyle Libre Ambassador. You can follow Mairéad on Instagram @type1_muinteoir

Δ The FreeStyle LibreLink app is only compatible with certain mobile devices and operating systems. Please check the website for more information about device compatibility before using the app. Use of FreeStyle LibreLink requires registration with LibreView.

Φ For a complete glycaemic picture, scan once every 8 hours.

ǁ Use of FreeStyle LibreLink requires registration with LibreView. Automatic upload requires a wireless internet connection or mobile data connection.

₼ The LibreView website is only compatible with certain operating systems and browsers. Please check www.libreview.com for additional information.

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