In our first ‘meet your diabetes family’ profile of 2019, Nicole Walker tells us of her ups and downs with diabetes; from having a “fun experience” with her diagnosis as a child, to battling an eating disorder and then to helping her others with diabetes through her volunteering.
Join us as Nicole, who’s name is NicoleC1971 on the forum, takes us through her diabetes journey.
- What is your diagnosis and when were you diagnosed?
My doctor told me I was diagnosed with type 1 in 1980, I was nine and a half years old at the time and now I’m 48. They diagnosed me after I was taken into hospital as I’d become very ill.
- How much did you know about type 1 diabetes before being diagnosed?
Nothing really, I just knew I’d lost a lot of weight when I went into hospital. It was a fun experience for me but not so much for my parents, they were very worried about me.
- How do you manage your type 1 diabetes?
With the insulin pump and the FreeStyle Libre. I like to learn about the latest tech, we’ve come a long way since I was diagnosed, no syringes or animal insulin anymore.
- What support have you received since being diagnosed?
I had the child diabetes experience, my consultant told me as long as I was happy my diabetes would be fine. When I was 15, I developed an eating disorder, I think it partially stemmed from my blood sugars, weight and carb intake being measured all the time. It was chaotic, but I did get psychological help when I went to university and it’s helped me become more relaxed.
- When did you join the Diabetes.co.uk forum?
[Nicole joined the Diabetes.co.uk forum in December 2016.]
- What were your first thoughts when joining the forum?
I can’t remember what they were when I started. I think the forum is a good place for discussion and people are open to ideas. I volunteer for Diabetes UK now and support those with type 2, both my dad and father in law have type 2 so I’ve learned a lot about other types of diabetes.
- How has the forum helped you with managing your diabetes?
I like that you can post a question about anything. You can have a rant and people don’t criticise. I like to give advice. I find it rewarding and I’m still learning new things myself.
- What’s your favourite thing about the forum? Any favourite threads for example?
I don’t usually post on the sticky ones. I tend to jump on a question if it’s not been answered. I post on a lot of threads relating to food policy.
- What advice would you give to someone who’s just been diagnosed with type 1?
Don’t get overwhelmed but do get used to your basic routine and get your basal insulin rates settled then get on and live your life! Being obsessed with being perfect won’t work but can lead to burnout.
- What advice would you give to the family of someone who’s just been diagnosed to help support them?
Don’t panic! This will be a learning curve for all the family. Try and be supportive and encourage independence. If your child does make dietary changes make sure the whole family joins in when you are eating together.