Ad­vice and care mean di­a­betes is no bar­rier

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - Karen Hunt

DI­A­BETES is not a death sen­tence.

That is the mes­sage Bridgetown res­i­dent Liz Lucey would like to send to fel­low di­a­bet­ics, par­tic­u­larly any­one who has been re­cently di­ag­nosed.

“You can lead a re­ally full life, there’s noth­ing that I haven’t been able to do,” she said.

Com­ing from her, that’s re­as­sur­ing as in July, Liz re­ceived the Kel­lion Vic­tory Medal from Di­a­betes Aus­tralia for liv­ing with the con­di­tion for 60 years.

While the cause is un­known, child­hood ill­ness seems to have been a trig­ger in her case.

“I had pneu­mo­nia and ton­sil­li­tis and that sort of thing and they think that’s what set it off for me,” Liz said.

Of six sib­lings in her fam­ily, three suf­fer from type one di­a­betes. Liz was di­ag­nosed at three years of age, her brother at seven and her sis­ter at 19.

This means their bod­ies do not pro­duce enough in­sulin, a hor­mone that breaks down sugar from food to cre­ate en­ergy.

Di­a­bet­ics must reg­u­larly mon­i­tor their blood sugar and take enough in­sulin to reg­u­late it.

Liz has a rou­tine that helps her man­age the con­di­tion.

Be­fore break­fast, lunch and din­ner she does a blood test, de­cides on her meal and takes enough in­sulin to cover it.

“If you keep your­self rea­son­ably well and your sugar’s in the range of 5-8 mil­limoles per litre, you’re far bet­ter off, you’re far less at risk of com­pli­ca­tions.”

These can be se­ri­ous for any­one with Type 1 or the more com­mon Type 2 di­a­betes, she warns, with com­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing eye, heart and kid­ney dis­ease and cir­cu­la­tion prob­lems.

Still, Liz con­sid­ers her­self one of the lucky ones and says things have im­proved since she was a child.

“I re­mem­ber my mum when I was three or four run­ning around the house, chas­ing me with a nee­dle.”

Nowa­days, she can eas­ily mon­i­tor blood sugar her­self by prick­ing a fin­ger, whereas it used to take hours at the hos­pi­tal.

She watches her diet and ex­er­cises reg­u­larly, walk­ing her dog twice a day, but says treats are not banned al­to­gether.

Reg­u­lar ap­point­ments with her en­docri­nol­o­gist have been vi­tal, too.

“Prob­a­bly that’s how I’ve man­aged to live so long and so well – a lot of peo­ple don’t know I’m a di­a­betic.”

For any­one newly di­ag­nosed, she says ad­vice is avail­able from di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tors – Liz was her­self an ed­u­ca­tor for a while – via helplines or from Di­a­betes Aus­tralia on­line.

With the right ad­vice and care, she be­lieves there is lit­tle the mod­ern di­a­betic can’t do.

She trav­elled through Europe solo three years ago – a trip that in­cluded a Seg­way tour of Rome – and more re­cently trav­elled to South Amer­ica with her fam­ily.

Now she is look­ing for­ward to more ad­ven­tures. “I haven’t skied yet,” she said. Di­a­betes Aus­tralia offers a free, on­line test to de­ter­mine your risk of type two di­a­betes.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.di­a­bete­saus­

I re­mem­ber my mum run­ning around the house, chas­ing me with a nee­dle. - Liz Lucey

Pic­ture: Karen Hunt

Liz Lucey has lived for decades with di­a­betes and says with a healthy diet and ex­er­cise, and the right care and ad­vice, the con­di­tion is man­age­able.

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