Does Diabetes help to make you Shine?

Guest Post Sally Marchini, Dietitian

This week I was asked by a Medicare Local to explain for their newsletter what it is that makes me shine as a health professional. It made me consider some the benefits that diabetes has brought me and I thought you may like to add your own ideas.

My first paragraph in my response to the Medicare Local reads: “I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 36 years now, diagnosed aged 12. It was only after I was diagnosed with coeliac disease 11 years ago that I decided to go to the University of Newcastle and study to be a dietitian so that I could ‘talk the talk’ as well as ‘walk the walk’.  What makes me shine is that I know what living with chronic health conditions without being a health professional is really like, making the advice I can provide to people realistic and achievable.“

Of course, none of us choose to have diabetes. But it’s great when you can start to look at the good things that it has brought to your life.  And this can help your attitude towards keeping it in check.

I love this comment that one of our members recently wrote:

“I’ve achieved everything I have wanted and as a diabetic. I treat it as a work mate but I am the boss. If I treat it well it will give me what I need in return. 40 years T1 this year Hb1c average 7.5. Rock on dudes.”

One of our bloggers, Helen Wilde who has type 2 diabetes recently wrote a blog about Happiness and says in it, “One of the keys (or barriers) to Happiness can be self acceptance.”

When I stop and think what the actual benefits for me having accepted and now embraced having diabetes, my list goes something like this (not in any particular order):

  • Reduced procrastination than the average person – I put this down to having to treat hypos as and when they occur regardless of the bad timing that goes along with them. I know that if I start to feel a hypo coming on, I can’t just wait a bit before dealing with it as I know I will be in a lot more serious trouble. This reflects in other parts of my life and helps me to prioritise and get the important things done so that I can relax and enjoy life later. It certainly helped me focus with my university studies and it helps me to minimise stress in other parts of my life, which in turn helps my diabetes.
  • Taking time out to put my own health first – I often see clients who struggle to put their own health needs first and insist on providing others around them with the care they should be providing for themselves. Diabetes has taught me to eat well and regularly and ensure that I look after my own health so that I can stay well to help others.
  • Being organised – this is a big benefit I ‘blame’ on having diabetes (and coeliac) that reflects into other areas of my life.  There are enormous benefits to being an organised person and when you’ve had lifelong training of living with diabetes, it’s along the lines of ‘practice makes perfect’. Learning to think and plan ahead benefits all areas of my life.
  • Being part of the D-community – Just this week, caught in the hottest city in the world, Helen Wilde talked about changing perspectives and how “your perspective on your diabetes might be just what someone else needs to hear”.  I love that we’re all here to support each other. I never feel alone with my diabetes, and feel so fortunate about that.
  • Encouragement to study – Had I not been diagnosed with coeliac disease on top of my diabetes, it’s most likely that I never would have felt inspired to go to university. When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to study, so although I had the opportunity to go, I didn’t as I couldn’t see the point of studying something for four years that I didn’t feel passionate about. And now that my diabetes has brought me that passion I needed, my life has broadened immensely, so I thank my diabetes for that too.
  • Being able to help others – being involved in the D-community as a health professional has brought so much more meaning to my life. Before studying I had a successful and quite glamorous career working in marketing across Europe, but I wasn’t really doing anything meaningful  – just helping big businesses to make more money.  I’m finding myself to be a much happier person and am loving being able to help others to improve their own lives whilst leading by example. The simple pleasures in life such as fresh food and water, love and helping others are being highlighted through following my passion that was brought about by diabetes.
  • Healthy eating and lifestyle – I have to add, especially as a dietitian, how my diabetes has led me to understand so much more about food and how a great diet can help you to shine! It certainly helps me. I hope you are finding yourself shining more by what you’re learning about diabetes and food through my posts.

As an aside, I fully appreciate that I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to what I’ve done. As Helen Wilde points out in her happiness blog, “For us, living with diabetes, a major barrier to Happiness can be Burn Out. It’s understandable: chronic stress can be extremely wearing, & there are no holidays from diabetes or any chronic health condition, after the ‘Honeymoon’. LOL”. So it can be a fabulous help to learn to accept and embrace where possible.

What do you see in Diabetes that makes YOU Shine?

Sally 🙂

Sally is owner of her private practice (Marchini Nutrition), and has had type 1 diabetes for close to 40 years and coeliac disease for many years too.



  1. Sean on January 20, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Diabetes helps me shine because it gets me to eat at regular times. I also have Ceoliacs Disease but with the help of my friendly health professionals I can better live my life and I can also teach those diabetics that ask for my advice on how to deal with their Diabetes and also tell them about Diabetes Counseling Online, and how these people here have helped me to better understand my diabetes and my Ceoliacs disease. Yes I’m a train driver that drives from Melbourne to Perth and back again either driving freight trains or passenger trains. I used to find it hard to manage my diabetes and so I couldn’t do my work as effectively as I can now. I used to have to take many sick days off work because I didn’t know how to properly deal with the Hypers and Hypo’s that I was getting or how to even recognize the early signs of DKA. Yes I have also lost my license a few times because of me not being able to manage my Diabetes as well as I should, but I don’t blame the Diabetes for this, I blame myself in not getting to know it better and also being in denial for so long and thinking why me?. Also I used to think that it was only my brother and I that had Diabetes but now I know this isn’t the case. That’s what has helped Diabetes make me shine.

    • Sally on January 20, 2014 at 11:43 am

      What a wonderful attitude you’ve developed Sean! Thanks for sharing. Keep that glow going! 🙂

  2. Sean on January 20, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Thanx Sally. 🙂

  3. Sandra Williams on January 20, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks Sally. What a fabulous blog. I have learnt many things since developing Diabetes. When I had the pump installed and met my diabetes educator, I kept asking questions as I need to understand what is happening and why. Effie just kept patiently saying to me -“Don’t worry about the reasons – just deal with the numbers and get on with life!” That has gone with me into my everyday life and I found myself saying that to a work colleague today. Of course, if a pattern develops with the numbers, we have to find the reason but mostly, I just treat the numbers and get on with my day. It would be so easy to say – “Why me?” but then the other question is “Why not me!” At least we have something which is very treatable.

    • Sally on January 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Oh Sandra – I completely agree with you, and that was great advice you were given about getting on with life. I also love what you say about not worrying about the numbers unless you see a pattern developing. Awareness is important. Like our volunteer said as quoted in my blog, as long as we treat it well, it won’t hold us back. Thanks for your message – most appreciated. 🙂

  4. Antonella Russo on February 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I appreciate a lot this blog about diabetes.My mum, has been living with it since 15 years ago.Now she’s 75 and often in trouble with her host.
    Often illness overcome her, but psychic illness I mean.She feels alone and confused about managing daily insulin. I love her so much, and i’d like to give her a bit of good humor that she has not.
    Old and sick,this is her great fear and my secret pain is that love isn’t enough to give her much wellness possibility.

  5. helwild on February 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Antonella.
    I hear that you want to be a good daughter to your mother who lives with diabetes.

    Love means a lot, & you are helping your mother by being loving towards her. Who helps with her insulin?

    What country are you living in?
    Helen Wilde
    Senior Counsellor