One of our diabetes friends from Melbourne, Australia, is Renza Scibilia, a type 1 since 1998 whom we've had the honor of knowing in the Diabetes Online Community for years now. You may recognize Renza as the prolific writer of the blog Diabetogenic.
Given that this week is Australia's National Diabetes Week (July 9-15), we thought it a perfect time to invite Renza to share a bit about the big messages in her country... and how their work applies to all of us.
Early Diabetes Detection in Australia, by Renza Scibilia
Do you remember your, or your child’s, diabetes diagnosis? Did you know the symptoms of diabetes before the diagnosis? Somehow, I did. I was 24 years old, and after I noticed the typical symptoms of thirst, weight loss, frequently going to the toilet and exhaustion, I saw my GP and asked to be tested for diabetes. I was sent off for a blood test and was diagnosed a few days later. From the first symptom to ‘Renza, you have type 1 diabetes,’ was 10 days.
That was 19 years ago and, thankfully, it was all very boring.
But for a lot of people, diagnosis story is far more convoluted and traumatic. I have many friends with diabetes who tell their story in hushed tones as they explain the number of times they visited their family doctor only to be sent home with nothing more than a prescription for antibiotics, or orders to stay in bed and rest. Parents tell of how their kids were told it was nothing more than growing pains and that the symptoms would disappear.
The diabetes diagnosis eventually comes. But often it takes months, or even years.
Despite being quick for me, the diagnosis was a lot to deal with. Learning the language of diabetes, trying to grasp the concept of administering insulin by injecting my skin, stabbing my fingers throughout the day, being introduced to a medical team who would now be part of my life, and wondering what my long-term health may now look like was all overwhelming. But I wasn’t really feeling unwell – apart from the unquenchable thirst and running to the loo every five minutes.
This week is National Diabetes Week in Australia and this year, Diabetes Australia is shining a light on the importance of early detection, and early treatment, for all types of diabetes. Our campaign is called ‘It’s About Time,' because it is about time we all knew the signs and symptoms of diabetes.
The first element of the campaign was launched on Sunday and focused on type 2 diabetes, specifically the 500,000 Australians who are currently living with silent and undiagnosed T2D.
Many people with type 2 diabetes will live with the condition for up to 7 years before it is diagnosed and by then, half of all people will have already developed at least one serious diabetes-related complication. Much of this damage is preventable if type 2 diabetes is diagnosed earlier.
Diabetes Australia is encouraging people to take the simple AUSDRISK assessment to check their risk of type 2 diabetes and then to have a conversation with their doctor.
Currently, only 5% of Australians over the age of 40 years have had a type 2 diabetes risk check in the last two years. The AUSDRISK assessment takes just minutes to complete.
On Wednesday, we’ll be launching the type 1 diabetes campaign, ‘The 4Ts of Type 1 Diabetes’ that originated in the UK to raise awareness of the early signs of type 1 diabetes.
Each year, 640 Australians ending up in the hospital with dangerously high glucose levels because the early signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes are missed. The campaign aims to increase understanding of the most common signs of type 1 and, if anyone has these symptoms, they are encouraged to see their doctor straight away and ask about type 1 diabetes.t
The campaign outlines these '4 Ts of type 1 diabetes' to look for when someone seems at risk:
- Thirsty - are they really thirsty and unable to quench that thirst?
- Toilet – are they going to the toilet a lot?
- Tired - are they more tired than usual?
- Thinner - have they recently lost weight?
National Diabetes Week campaigns are always for the general public and aim to raise awareness of diabetes. We know that most people in the general community don’t take diabetes seriously and we know that most people know very little about the condition.
How Can You Help?
Sure, Australia is a long way away from… well, pretty much everywhere. But the #ItsAboutTime campaign is true for people in every country on the planet. Please consider sharing one of our campaign videos with your family and friends.
Isabelle is nine years old and was diagnosed with type 1 two years ago. Here, Isabelle and her mum Fleur share their diagnosis story.
Any chance you have to raise awareness could be the difference between someone being diagnosed with diabetes and receiving appropriate treatment sooner rather than later.
It’s about time we all knew the symptoms of all types of diabetes. Please look for and help promote the Twitter hashtags: