Blood Sugar Trampoline

How to Read the Nutritional Label: The Basics

I read this piece a while back about 3 important things you really need to know from a food label as a person with diabetes. It was really good. However, the labelling laws differ between the US and the EU, so I thought I would adapt it a little for those of us living with diabetes in Ireland.

DISCLAIMER ALERT – I am not a medical professional, I am not a dietitian or nutritional coach. I am only a person living with type 1 diabetes for 24 years with a very hungry quest for knowledge and have learned a thing or two about my own diabetes. ALWAYS consult with your diabetes team.

3 Critical Food Label Elements Every Diabetic Should Understand

Here’s is what I have learned over the years about how to approach food labels living in Ireland …. After I fish them out of the bin;-)

From Diabetes Daily’s “3 Critical Food Label Elements for People with Diabetes” (In Ireland)


The most important thing, initially, for people with diabetes to decipher on the nutritional label is the carbohydrates. When you look at a label, find the number of carbohydrates.

There will be a number of grams (”g”) and a percentage to the far right. You can use either to work out the amount of carbs on your plate.”

I usually use the percentage, then serve and weigh my portion using a digital weighing scales. Then calculate the number of carbs in my portion.

So if I put 100g of rice on my plate and I know the percentage of carb in cooked rice is 30% (100 x .30=30g).


Under EU law, our labels have already subtracted the dietary fibre. And we don’t have total or net carbs on our labels.

“Fiber is actually a type of carbohydrate that is not digested by our bodies. Since it’s not digested, it doesn’t affect our blood sugars.
** People visiting Europe from the US please remember to ignore the fibre.

“OF WHICH IS SUGARS / Sugars Are Included

This is usually directly under carbohydrates. ”This would refer to simple, unrefined sugars, such as the white, granular stuff commonly called “table sugar.” It also includes any other simple sugars, such as fructose found in fruit. Both the sugars that are naturally occurring in the food and any added sugars are included in this number.

The number of sugars are already included in the “Carbohydrate” figure, so you don’t need to count them separately.”


In Ireland, the label is given as per 100g/ml and/or per serving. This makes carb counting really easy.

I use the carb factor (which represents the percentage of the food’s weight that is carbohydrate. This is found under the “Per 100g” column on the nutrition label).

Food Weight (in grams) X Carb Factor = Carb Count

“Often the serving size will seem like a much smaller portion than you think is reasonable. It takes actually measuring out your portions to learn to recognize (and reprogram your thinking) a “reasonable” portion. Try this experiment: take your favorite snack and put on a plate or a bowl what you think a single serving should be. Then check the package for the serving size and pull out your weighing scales. Will the amount you’ve already portioned out fit in the appropriate measuring device? Does it overflow?

Now you have a better sense of how much an actual serving size is for this particular food, and when you go to the nutrition label, you’ll be getting the facts that match that amount.

An easy way to reduce your carb intake without changing much else about your diet is to simply reduce the recommended serving size. Conversely, it’s also really easy to wind up eating too many carbs, even when you think you’re doing well by eating low-carb foods, because you’re actually eating more than one serving at a time.”

I really did enjoy reading Rebecca Dugas piece, especially the story she recounts leading into it. Rebecca is a vegetarian and sometimes struggles with her low-carb, plant-based diet. She created the website Diabetic Herbivore to help other diabetic vegetarians to survive and thrive through information, recipes, resources, reviews, education, and support.

I do feel that our food labels in Ireland and the EU are a little less complicated though.

If you would like to delve deeper into food labels, here’s a leaflet from Diabetes Ireland produced a couple of years ago.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 5 – More than Diabetes

This week is the 8th Annual Diabetes Blog Week and my second year participating. Diabetes Blog Week was started by and is still instigated by fellow type 1 Karen Graffeo in Connecticut who blogs at Bitter~Sweet Diabetes​.

This week is as a way for Diabetes bloggers (well over 100 participants from ALL OVER the World each year!) to share a huge variety of perspectives on issues relating to our illness. Learn more about Diabetes Blog Week here.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 5 – More Than Diabetes

Lets wrap up the week by sharing a little more about ourselves, beyond the chronic illness we or our loved ones live with. Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU. If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can. Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes! (This topic is a suggestion from the 2016 #DBlogWeek survey.)

Weeellll, this post could be dangerous. I’ve had a whole life (20 years before I was diagnosed) outside of diabetes that could fill a book really. Or maybe I’m just flattering myself.

So, here are a few things that not many people outside of friends and family know about me;

At age 17, I ran away to the circus.

No, not really:-) When I finished second level education I was done with books. I had no clue what I wanted to do but I knew it was not going to involve more school. My parents begged me to do a secretarial course and I would have rather DIED!!!

So I decided to try to become an actor or at least involved in theatre. And off I went to acting school for 1 year and then I got into a more advanced course and did two years more. I had pretty much figured out that I was hopeless at it by my 3rd year. So when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in this year it told me that I should run.

I’m Crafty, some might even say in more ways than just one;-)

When I lived in Minnesota I discovered the craft of scrapbook style photo albums and I loved it. I’m always the one with the camera taking photos and putting prints into the classic photo albums (you know, when we did that) and then quickly forgot the story that photo told. Scrapbook style photo albums just made sense to me.

I started “scrapping” in earnest when I moved to Minnesota, it filled the time while I was job hunting. It also helped me figure out what I was going to do with my life a year later when I left that job because I was miserable. Being a secretary or admin personel just wasn’t cutting it for me.

I also knit a wee bit and crochet – although it’s been a while for all three. Something keeps me busy???

And this may be the “Shocker”, especially to Irish people! I am 100% Irish!

No seriously, it’s true. Yes, I have this warped and weird accent but I was born in Ireland. I’ve lived here almost all of my life, apart from the four years I lived in Minnesota. My husband, who is actually american, is never asked where he is from. I, on the other hand, get asked a lot. And when I say “Clare” people are surprised. One person replied “I wasn’t expecting that answer”. My response was “Well, I’m originally from Co. Offaly, but you weren’t expecting that answer either.”

And there you have it! A little something about me outside of the world of diabetes, two children and a husband;-)

Diabetes Blog Week – Day 4 What brings me down

This week is the 8th Annual Diabetes Blog Week and my second year participating. Diabetes Blog Week was started by and is still instigated by fellow type 1 Karen Graffeo in Connecticut who blogs at Bitter~Sweet Diabetes​.

This week is as a way for Diabetes bloggers (well over 100 participants from ALL OVER the World each year!) to share a huge variety of perspectives on issues relating to our illness. Learn more about Diabetes Blog Week here.

Diabetes Blog Week – Day 4 – What Brings Me Down

Today let’s revisit a prompt from 2014 – May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks again to Scott for this 2014 topic.)
I seem to be in a good place with my diabetes management at the moment, as I’m blogging less about my own diabetes experiences and more about what is going on in my wider diabetes bubble.

So my “What Brings me Down” blog post is more about all the things that are frustrating, overwhelming and make me want to cry in the world of diabetes advocacy.

However, there is one area that does bring me down recently. Several nights, not in a row, of CGM alarms disrupting my sleep are bring me down. Is it just a phase or is it a new trend? Being overwhelmed with the night time alarms not being consistent so I can’t use the information to make changes is bringing me down.

Oh and the thoughts of doing basal rate checks is bring me down too. I’ve no problem doing, no, I’ll correct that to, I have the least resistance in doing basal rate checks at night. Go figure that one!

My anxiety levels elevate a bit when I consider doing basal rate checks during the day because I’m always running around and I “chauffeur” during the day (school dropoffs and pickups). So, and please don’t be horrified by this, but in my 7 years on an insulin pump I have not done basal rate test in daylight. But since I learned more about Sugar Surfing last weekend I have a renewed ambition to tackle this.

What seriously brings me down is trying to explain what living with diabetes is like for me and not receiving compassion or understanding. Being met with the challenge of lack of knowledge and being met with a lack of empathy because the tabloid media and some health care professionals continue to reinforce the myth that diabetes is a self-indulgent condition and therefore deserved.

What brings me down is trying to fundraise for anything related to diabetes, especially to improve diabetes health care services in Ireland, in a world that doesn’t seem understand or want to understand why we need those things. What brings me down is how heavily we rely on our own community to fundraise when we are such a small one.

What brings me down is hearing that a new, much needed, health care professional has (finally) been appointing in a diabetes clinic only to find out that a vacancy or funding is pulled from another clinic in another part of the country. Case and point here;

“– In Waterford, the vacant Consultant post there was advertised last year and we have to wait over 6 months for interviews to be held and possibly up to a further year for the post to be filled.

– Following the transfer of a Consultant from Sligo Hospital to Limerick University Hospital, nothing is being done to date to recruit a replacement in Sligo.

– In Galway University Hospital, we are waiting for interviews to take place for the vacant Consultant post there which was recently re-advertised following the withdrawal of a successful candidate who was returning from abroad and who had accepted the post in 2015 and was due to start in 2017.” Source Diabetes Ireland

What brings me down is the fact that our health service published a standard of care document for children with type 1 diabetes in December 2015 and have absolutely no progress or indication that it will be implemented any time soon.

And finally, what brings me down is the fact that there is NO standard of care document for adults with type 1 diabetes and even if the health service ever gets around to publishing the delayed since June 2016 document for us, I feel like it will never, ever be implemented and I am on my own to advocate for myself.

It’s the never-ending-ness of the work needed in the diabetes advocacy world and the constant two steps forward, one step back and sometimes two steps back, that brings me down the most.

But I suppose it keeps me distracted from my own type 1 diabetes getting me down.

Diabetes Blog Week – Day 3 The Blame Game

This week is Diabetes Blog Week which is in its 8th consecutive year. This is my second year participating. Diabetes Blog Week was started by and is still instigated by fellow type 1 Karen Graffeo in Connecticut who blogs at Bitter~Sweet Diabetes​.

This week is as a way for multitudes of D-bloggers (well over 100 participants from ALL OVER the World each year!) to share a huge variety of perspectives on issues relating to our illness. Learn more about Diabetes Blog Week here.


Diabetes Blog Week – Day 3 The Blame Game

Have you experienced blame and judgement from your healthcare team or someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger. Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had. Now, the game part. Let’s turn this around. If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself? Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us! (Thank you, Brian, for inspiring this topic.)

I tend not to judge the friend, acquaintance or complete stranger too harshly when the say something that doesn’t particularly sit well with me. I find when I use this moment as an educational and awareness one we both walk away happy… I hope.

However, I actually feel a lot of judgement from a select few people with type 1 diabetes on all that I do to manage my diabetes. I was reminded of this by these words:

“You know, someone at my work has diabetes and they don’t seem to have all the things you have to manage it. Maybe you should try to simplify what you are doing. You don’t need all of those things.” from Diabetogenic.

I immediately thought of a conversation I’ve had that was so similar but this conversation was with a person with type 1 diabetes.

It was during the time that we were organising the very first Thriveabetes Conference. We sent out press releases to every media outlet we could think of, and a researcher from a very well known radio programme called me to, you know, do research. I immediately launched into my Thriveabetes “Sales” Speech about the power of peer support in helping people with type 1 diabetes and why I believed the event was so important.

It was only when I talked about the mental burden that living with type 1 diabetes can sometimes bring that this person revealed that she was a person with type 1 diabetes. She went on to challenge what I had said by saying that she disagreed with my personal experience of living with type 1 diabetes. She did not feel that way at all. She said that just got on with it, diabetes didn’t get in the way of her life at all and she didn’t think about her type 1 diabetes much at all. I did respond that I thought that was great for her but my experience and a lot of people I knew shared my views.

She made me feel like a failure! She implied that I was doing way too much to take care of myself and making a big fuss about an illness that she found easy to manage. I choose to believe her because I don’t know this person. Who am I to challenge her about how well she manages her diabetes? But I felt I was not getting the same respect.

It was so hurtful! And I didn’t know how to respond! I think that I may have gotten her back up a little with whatever my flustered response was because we never got a call back to do an interview.

This wasn’t the last time that similar conversations have happened. But I now feel that I handle them better. I jump in straight away with compliments on the diabetes knowledge and commend them for finding their way. I express my mild jealousy on how easy they have it. If this person allows me to explain a little about how I feel, that should be all I need. I hope that this is enough to illicit a smidge of respect and understanding that not all people with diabetes are the same.

Thankfully, it’s only a few select people that I have had these types of interchanges with, and the Diabetes Community is overwhelmingly the best bunch of people to hang with whenever possible. As experience at the recent #SugarSurfingDublin workshop 😀

Diabetes Blog Week – The Cost of a Chronic Illness

This week is Diabetes Blog Week which is in its 8th consecutive year. This is my second year participating.

Diabetes Blog Week was started by and is still instigated by fellow type 1 Karen Graffeo in Connecticut who blogs at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes.

“Karen created this annual week-long blog carnival as a way for multitudes of D-bloggers (now more than 100 participating each year!) to create an unprecedented sharing of perspectives on issues relating to our illness. You can learn more about this effort, and sign up yourself if interested, here.”

The Cost of a Chronic Illness

Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly. In the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage. So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care. Do you have advice to share? For those outside the US, is cost a concern? Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care? (This topic was inspired by suggestions from Rick and Jen.)

I’m one of the lucky ones. I was born in Ireland. I’ve lived there most of my life. But I’m not lucky because I live in the Gorgeous Green Kingdom. I’m lucky because 50 years ago a bunch of people who live with diabetes got together at a meeting and said that their mission was to provide free insulin for everyone living in Ireland who needed it. (Yes, we pay for it through our taxes but really, it’s free.) And two months later it happened.

Then in 1971 all other diabetes medication and supplies became free. This is why I am lucky.

I’ve been following the American coverage of the cost of insulin with a broken heart and feeling of helplessness. And I know that there are countries in the developing world where a vial of insulin is a number of days of walk away from the people that need it.

I did have difficulty accessing diabetes technology in the form of an insulin pump and a cgm and diabetes education is still difficult to access here but this seems so insignificant compared to not being able to afford or get your hands on insulin.

I read the book “Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle” over the Christmas holidays and it detailed those first few years where Insulin production was unstable and there wasn’t enough for everyone. Neither of the manufacturing companies couldn’t make it fast enough. Access to insulin was because there wasn’t any.

My diabetes doesn’t cost me anything but my time. This is sometimes a bit of a weight on my shoulders as my clinic appointments happen when I am supposed to be collecting my children from school. But it’s also a huge relief.

Diabetes Ireland Celebrates 50 Years

Last Thursday evening, Diabetes Ireland launched a book detailing their 50 years in existence. I was so proud to be there to witness it, so honoured to be asked to contribute and excited to meet some diabetes legends.

Local TD, Róisín Shortall did the honours and gave a lovely speech, as did chairperson, Hilary Hoey and CEO Kieran O’Leary.

Did you know that the very first AGM of what’s now Diabetes Ireland took place on the 2nd of April 1967 in the Mansion House in Dublin?

Do you know that 750 people showed up???? Yes, seven hundred and fifty people!!

They must have come from all over. The first mission of the organisation was to make insulin free to patients. They achieved this within their first two months. And then secured all other diabetes supplies on the Long Term Illness scheme in 1971.

This was especially poignant because as we were celebrating 50 years of free insulin and diabetes supplies, at the same time in the United States of America, THE richest nation in the world, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the health care act that made insulin accessible, and affordable to most of its millions of it’s citizens with diabetes. It was heartbreaking.

I’m quite lost for words for my fellow PWD’s in America. I hope to be able to find some, words that is, for a post soon.

When the speeches finished, I was approached by a lady, Una Wilson, who wanted to tell me that her daughter, Orla, who lives in America sent her a piece that I had written for and complimented me on it.

I’ve always loved to hear stories, other people diabetes stories, and to hear about how Diabetes Ireland began and about the people who started it has been fascinating for me. So when Una told me her name, I immediately knew that she was employee number 2 with Diabetes Ireland – the very second person employed, and launched into a hundred questions about how that happened and what it was like. Una was diagnosed in 1982, her daughter Orla, then 12 was diagnosed a couple of months later and Orla’s daughter has been diagnosed recently.

The family of the very first person employed by Diabetes Ireland, Phil Vizzard, were there too and represented her proudly. Phil’s daughter, Nicola, talks in the book about being a small army of fundraisers; “shaking boxes outside football matches, raising sponsorship or collecting money in pubs”.

This book was exciting for me to read because I’ve been meeting other volunteers for years and never really got to sit and chat with them. It’s through the book that I found out how much of a LEGEND Donegal’s Danny McDaid is. Danny is a long time volunteer and a two time Olympian. I mean he has a 10K named after him!!!

I had no idea that there was a story behind the start of the southern branches. I also had the opportunity to meet Tony O’Sullivan a fellow person with type 1 diabetes and a GP, who was chairperson of Diabetes Ireland about the time that I began volunteering and went on the become chairperson of the International Diabetes Federation.

It was a lovely evening and I hope that this book finds it’s way into the hands of every person with diabetes.

Spring is in the air.. and here come the hypos

Spring in my garden

Has anyone noticed their blood sugar/glucose numbers dropping lately as the Spring temperatures tease us?

Welcome to Spring, where it’s hot, it’s cold, it’s summer one day and winter the next.

We are having our first spell of warm weather this year. It is gloriously sunny and warm… and no rain. This little bit of sunshine gives everybody all sorts of excuses to be outdoors because we have been hiding away from the rain and greyness for months.

The temperature increased by more than a couple of degrees. And then … So did the number of low blood glucose events/hypos I’ve been having.

Not only that but I took a figary to spring clean during this warmness. I didn’t planned it, of course, and on this rare occasion, I didn’t think about my diabetes. It needed to be done and I had the motivation, so I just did it.

I don’t know how many glucose sweets I topped up by or how much chocolate I ate to prevent hypos. Or how many extra centimeters I added to my hips:-(

Temperatures go Up, so insulin doses should come Down.

Everything Burnout Except Diabetes

In the diabetes community we talk a lot about diabetes burnout and diabetes distress but I seem to experiencing a form of life burnout at the moment. It’s everything but diabetes burnout.

Yesterday, my daughter asked me, as she does most mornings on our short walk to her school, what I had planned for my day?”. I sighed and said “I have so much to do and I really don’t want to do any of it”. My response made me realise that it’s becoming a problem.

And if I’m really honest I’ve been feeling like this for a while. I sit in front of my laptop thinking about all the things I would like to do, all the things I need to do and then I get so overwhelmed I get maybe one or two things done.

I’m also physically tired and physically hurting. I have a torn achilles’ tendon and an achy, stiff hip. Both of these things are annoying and are a big influence on my level of activity.

I know I need to take a real break! I need to stop thinking about conference and event organising, about writing blog posts. I need to switch off from social media. This is the hardest thing to do. I really don’t want to not be connected to the world outside of my house. For me, there is no way to the social media that I need to have for my own support and the social media that partners the event organising and blogging.

I’m so grateful that all things diabetes seem to be going, well, as things usually go with type 1 diabetes, trampoling.

I’ve lost my enthusiasm for all the things I loved. I know it’s just temporary. I know it’s a problem. I know I will address it… and soon.

P.S. Anyone fancy meeting up at the Thriveabetes Sugar Surfing Workshop in Dublin????


Hole-y Health Service

The Irish health service is a mess!

You probably know this! I know this! I’ve known it for a very long time. I’ve been a regular customer patient of our health services for many years, and I continuously tell people about how terribly under funded it is and the chronic shortage of endocrinologists and diabetes nurse specialists.

Yet, I still wasn’t prepared for the shock when I walked into the Accident & Emergency department to find my mother on one of three trolleys (that was only the trolleys I could see) lining up the corridor with no chance of getting a bed in a ward, for a second and consequently third night in a row.

This post is not directly related to my life with type 1 diabetes but it does have implications on the health care I receive.

She had gone to A&E on a Friday evening, having been instructed to do so by her GP, she waited six hours in the waiting room before getting as far as a trolley. During those six hours, she had been triaged, had bloods drawn and was shuttled back and forth from the waiting room outside the A&E departement. Her “trolley” was placed in the main corridor entrance/exit hallway of the A&E department. I surmised that she was given a trolley because her treatment had to be administered through an IV. There she stayed, her trolley moved from corridor to corridor to allow for new patients to take up trolleys, until Monday late morning.

When I visited with her and it was extremely difficult; I was standing at the end of her trolley but as it was the main entrance/exit to the department, I was in the way constantly.

While there I noticed a couple of things that were disturbing to say the least.

The patient across the narrow corridor wedged into an alcove which was JUST wide enough for a trolley. I noticed her towel was drying on a IV drip rack. My mother said she had been there for 4 nights. This prompted the question of how many bathrooms/showers were there available for all of these patients. The answer is one bathroom with one shower for all the patients which was used as a storage area also. Hygiene standards so low in an area where hygiene is so important.

Our Irish Hospitals.

My mother has private health insurance and was using it. So her health insurance company will be charged as if she had a bed in a ward. Neither hospital, patient nor health insurance company wins in this situation.

I notice a young couple with a small child who were shuttled back and forth several times from the waiting room outside the A&E departement. I notice that it was the gentleman who was wearing the admittance wristband. This lead me to believe that because they were waiting on test results and he didn’t require treatment he was left in the waiting room.


It’s really very simple! And it’s been said over and over by many, many experts.

“The reality is that there are not enough acute hospital beds, so people who need to be admitted to hospital end up on trolleys,” Dr Fergal Hickey, the IAEM’s Communications Officer, explains to

Our hospitals need more beds and to have more beds they need more nurses. And we have nurses who want jobs. So what the fecking hell is holding this up?

So let’s invest more in our health service and let’s pay more income tax to pay for it. I, for one, do not mind one little bit paying more taxes to get it! If it means that I, or anyone I care about, is well looked after if they get sick.


Yet, this has been the situation in our Irish hospitals since I moved back to Ireland in 2006. We all remember the actor, Brendan Gleeson’s passionate plea for his mother on The Late Late Show!!!

Our emergency departments are a huge health and safety risk. Major! If you are not sick going into a hospital, you will definitely be sick when you leave! There is a complete lack of infection prevention control measures, in most hospital wards but especially in accident emergency departments (as witnessed by my brother when my mother was brought in – not a single staff member wore gloves or washed their hands. NOT ONE).

Patients spending multiple nights on trolleys is treated as normal practice. Patients have a complete lack of privacy, dignity or basic hygiene.

None of this is acceptable!

overworked and stressed to the point of exhaustion.

Our newly qualified nurses are paid a starting wage of €14.39 (information from a friend who has nearly two years experience). Since 1 January 2017, the national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €9.25 per hour. This same friend has had to give up her private health insurance because she couldn’t afford it!!

The current nurse:patient ratio leaves both nurses and patients in very unsafe and dangerous situations on a constant basis.

There is a huge deficit of nursing staff in the HSE. There are recruitment events on an ongoing basis but it is a slow process.

Our Irish hospitals are unionised, heavily, but with a health service top heavy with managers and scarce on frontline staff it’s hard to see who the union is serving first.

How is any of that OK?



I don’t want our health service employees to work less. I want more front line staff in all departments and more beds. Stop trying to recruit our Irish nurses back from overseas until you give our new nurses a decent wage. Start at home! Word will spread and they will come home without expensive recruitment campaigns.

Seriously, is it really more complicated than that????

To all the policy decision makers and implementation makers,
Stop talking, start funding and start doing!

Because I can’t do anything, not a single thing and it’s killing me and thousands of others – YOU have to do it!

Diabetes Awareness – What, Why?

Have you seen those posts on Facebook where you copy and paste a message that supposedly creates awareness for a heartbreaking illness without actually giving us any information about said illness? I come across them a lot, usually not for diabetes though.

And then I saw this from a lady I had met recently. Now this is Awareness!

You see, no amount of copy and paste onto my facebook profile page will create any awareness if I don’t mention something I know about that illness.

This post prompted me to delve a little deeper into what exactly do the words “Diabetes awareness” mean to me and why do I want to create awareness around diabetes?


The definition from the Collins English dictionary of “Awareness” is having knowledge.
So creating diabetes awareness is to inform people about it. And “Since informing the public can effect change, Raising Awareness is often the first activity an advocacy group engages in”- Marie Ennis-O’Connor, patient advocate.

But why do I want people to know about diabetes? Why would they need to know?

Is it because I want sympathy? Is it because I want people to know exactly how hard my life is?
No, that’s not it for me.

I’ve begun to realise that there are different types of “audiences” for diabetes awareness and that my message changes depending on what group I’m with. Such as, if I’m talking to a local TD I’m usually asking for funding to improve health services, so I need to outline how much is saved through this investment and how quality of life with diabetes is improved.


– My family and friends,
– General public at large (i.e. The Masses) and
– People who make decisions around our health service.
– People living with diabetes.


Each of these groups needs different information and for different reasons.

Diabetes Awareness for;
people who know me. AKA Friends and Family.

This kind of awareness is very personal. And it revolves on what to do and say around me. This can be very tricky and even very dangerous. My husband has learned that if he asks me how I am and I say “Fine” that it’s code for “I am not fine at all!!! And God knows what mine field you might enter?”

For me this is a huge area of awareness. It involves teaching people not to be members of the diabetes “police” and not asking if I can eat that? To making sure you know how to administer a glucagon injection if I lose consciousness.

WHY? I teach my nearest and dearest all that I know about my diabetes so that they can support me in it.

Diabetes Awareness for;
Members of the General Public.

Since starting my journey in diabetes awareness I have learned that a lot of people do not know that Diabetes can happen to anyone!!! Any age, any health, AN-NY. BODY. It’s a completely random condition, especially Type 1 Diabetes!

Everyone should know a couple of key pieces of information about diabetes, it may reduce your risk of diabetes complications and maybe even save a life.

A lot of people have type 2 diabetes and haven’t been diagnosed yet, which can lead to a life altering complication of diabetes being diagnosed first.
If people with type 1 diabetes are not diagnosed quickly, they can end up in a critical condition in hospital.
So, if I’m chatting casually to someone I don’t know and diabetes comes up in conversation I will outline the following;

– The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes (The 4 T’s; Tired, Thirsty, Thin, Toilet)
– ALL the risk factors of type 2 diabetes (Over 40, Family history, High BP, High Cholesterol, low exercise and overweight for your height)
– How serious diabetes is but that you don’t have to let it take over your life.
– Then I will rinse, repeat, rinse and repeat.

Diabetes Awareness for
People who make decisions around our health service; our TD’s, Hospital Managers, Our Health Service and our Department of Health.

This is a minefield! Our health service in general needs so much investment that we have to get in line with everyone else. And trying to impress on people who make decisions about funding our health care and the people who implement its delivery usually requires hard evidence such as research on how an improved health service for people with diabetes can improve and save lives, it also requires knowing how much it’s going to cost.

And sometimes, because of our low numbers in type 1 diabetes, we need the help of the general public to effect change.

Diabetes Awareness for
People living with diabetes

This is the most straightforward diabetes awareness message, and it’s just to let our fellow D-Peeps know where they can go to find out everything they need to know to help them manage their condition. But most importantly that they are not alone and they can do this.


When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 24 years ago, I did not know anything about it. Not a thing! And I thought “why would I have needed to know?” Well, now I do know why people need to know about diabetes and why. A little knowledge is a powerful thing.

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