LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST
Advice and care mean diabetes is no barrier
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.diabetesaustralia.com.au.
I remember my mum running around the house, chasing me with a needle. - Liz Lucey
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.