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Friday 16 July
It's National Diabetes Week, helping to reduce stigma attached to having diabetes and increasing awareness of life-changing devices like the Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGM).
Jessica Jones is a third-year medical student in the middle of her placement with Austin Health. She is also one of 130,000 Australians who lives with type 1 diabetes.
Jessica manages her condition by wearing a CGM which measures glucose levels continuously and notifies her if her blood sugar level gets outside the safe zone.
She says the device has been “life-changing”.
“Typically, people with diabetes have to go through the process of pricking their finger to work out their blood sugar levels but the CGM means I don’t have to worry,” Jessica said.
“I’m able to walk around on the wards and if I get a message to my watch or phone to say my sugar levels have dropped then I’ll have a jelly bean to pick them up again. There’s no need to stop what I’m doing or test myself manually because the device does it for me.
“It also gives me a huge amount of security when I’m asleep at night and there’s a risk of complications from my blood sugars getting low. The device alerts me if they start to drop which means I wake up and eat something to balance things out.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love their CGM,” she said.
Austin Health’s Director of Diabetes, Associate Professor Elif Ekinci, said the devices are expensive to run but eligible patients receive support through the National Diabetes Services Scheme.
“These devices are transformational for people living with diabetes but unfortunately some don’t realise they’re eligible to have some of the costs covered,” A/Pro Ekinci said.
“They do come at a cost of approximately $2500-4000 a year so the support from the Scheme is an enormous help to eligible patients like students and people with concession cards as it covers this cost.
“Patients can contact their endocrinologist or reach out to our Diabetes Nurse Educator team on 9496 5578 to find out more about CGMs and the Scheme,” she said.
This week is also National Diabetes Week and Diabetes Australia is running a campaign to reduce the stigma attached with having diabetes.
Jessica says there is still a misunderstanding of what having diabetes means in day-to-day life.
“I can still do things like eat cake or lollies but I just need to prepare myself by having insulin beforehand to keep my blood sugar levels balanced,” she said.
“It doesn’t really affect me but I certainly know of other people with diabetes who feel like they are being ‘judged’ by others at times.
“I’m lucky to have very supportive friends and family who I would not have been able to get through my diagnosis without.,” Jessica said.
For more information about the Heads Up on Diabetes campaign visit: headsupdiabetes.com.au