Scuba div­ing in for di­a­betes

The West Australian - - NEWS - Claire Tyrrell

Bec John­son is at her hap­pi­est ex­plor­ing the ocean’s depths.

But un­til re­cently, the type 1 di­a­betic was held back from pur­su­ing her pas­sion in her home coun­try.

Ms John­son, 33, could not get med­i­cal clear­ance to scuba dive in Aus­tralia and had to travel to Thai­land to get the train­ing she needed. The Aus­tralian Di­a­betes So­ci­ety this month changed its reg­u­la­tions to al­low peo­ple with the con­di­tion to dive.

Ms John­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Telethon Type 1 Di­a­betes Fam­ily Cen­tre, was in­stru­men­tal in the change.

“When I found out I couldn’t do my dive train­ing in Aus­tralia, it was dev­as­tat­ing,” she said.

“I got med­i­cal clear­ance over­seas — I just had to prove I could con­trol my blood sugar lev­els and that I un­der­stood how ex­er­cise im­pacted my body.

“Peo­ple with type 1 di­a­betes have been al­lowed to dive in the UK, US and Europe for more than 10 years.”

Ms John­son spoke at last year’s South Pa­cific Un­der­wa­ter Medicine So­ci­ety con­fer­ence in Mi­crone­sia, where she dived with doc­tors each day. Armed with a deeper in­sight into how div­ing af­fected di­a­bet­ics, she helped con­vince the ADS to change its po­si­tion on the is­sue.

ADS chief ex­ec­u­tive Sof An­drikopou­los said the so­ci­ety recog­nised “that with ap­pro­pri­ate prepa­ra­tion, ex­pe­ri­ence and ad­her­ence to the new rec­om­men­da­tions, peo­ple with di­a­betes are able to dive safely”.

Pic­ture: Nic El­lis

Scuba diver Bec John­son, who has type 1 di­a­betes.

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