|Anna Presswell, 31, from Hampshire, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at four years old. She now writes about her experiences to help others and her blog, www.insulinindependent.com, has been rated in the UK Top 10 for Diabetes.|
Throughout her childhood, Anna hadn’t come across many others who had Type 1 diabetes. Growing up with little contact with others who had the condition made her feel negative and isolated.
I Couldn’t Accept It
“For a long time I was disengaged from care. As far as I was concerned it was rubbish, and it wasn’t fair.”
However, since getting involved in the diabetic community, she has become much more positive about her condition. The support and mutual understanding she discovered helped her to open up.
“I ended up being able to accept and embrace my diabetes. Until that point it had been quite a lonely disease,” she says.
By writing her blog and getting involved in social media, Anna has come across others in her position. She also helps out INPUT, the UK’s leading charity on accessing medical technology for diabetes.
Learning new ways of control
Anna gains support from speaking to people in the community, but she’s also found that diabetes affects people differently.
“The approach to keeping in control varies from one person to another, and success is both gained and measured on an individual basis.”
Anna has an intolerance to carbohydrates yet her stepmother Cindy, who has had Type 1 diabetes for over 40 years, can tolerate more carbs. They could sit down to the same meal and have quite a different outcome.
“I can know exactly how many carbs are in a meal, but my blood sugars might still go through the roof. It’s just something about my personal system which means I can’t handle carbohydrate in the same way someone else may be able to,” says Anna.
Low GI diet and exercise
Anna follows a low GI diet due to her sensitivity to carbohydrates. She also finds that exercise has a positive effect on her blood sugar levels and general wellbeing.
“I try and make most of my meals lower carb by replacing those carbs for lots and lots of vegetables.”
Her typical daily diet consists of −
- Breakfast: berries with full-fat yoghurt
- Lunch: chicken and bacon salad
- Dinner: bolognese with green beans
The Insulin Pump Changed my Life
The insulin pump was a fantastic discovery for Anna because she and her husband are eager to start a family in the near future.
Through her online research, she came across a pregnant lady who had used a pump, which gave her much better control over blood sugar levels. Anna says this is essential for a successful pregnancy.
“To have a safe pregnancy and reduce complications such as birth defects or miscarriage, you have to have extremely good diabetes control.”
Anna wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of wearing the pump at first, but has now realised how valuable it is.
“It gives me a lot more freedom, so it was probably the best decision I have ever made in terms of my diabetes care. It makes it much easier to deliver insulin to counteract the effect that food will have,” she says.
She has worn the pump for four years now, and some of the benefits include−
- Improved sleep
- Disappearance of eye problems and numbness
- 3% decrease in blood sugar levels
- Less time off sick from work
Dont Suffer in Silence
Anna has come to view her condition in a positive light and hopes to inspire others through her work online.
As a result of getting involved and writing her blog, she has been overseas, met people from around the world and put forward her views to MPs.
She believes that reaching out to others with the condition is the first step towards managing diabetes.
“Try and get involved in the diabetes community. That sense of community can be your saving grace in the days when you are feeling very dark and very low.”
This interview is part of a series sponsored by The ID Band Company, who supply a fantastic range of emergency ID jewellery for allergies, medical conditions, and adventure sports.
If you have any concerns about your health or would like advice about medical conditions please see your GP.