September 2013

Letter from Georgia

Life is one big balancing act, and at times you need to take a step back and prioritise.  I also need to take my own advice more often. Do you find that too?

In those moments when you get overwhelmed, what helps me is looking at the big picture. When I am stressed with work, I look at where I want to be in 5 to 10 years, and how important it is to do the hard yards early on, making way for a more smooth-sailing career (hopefully).

Or sometimes I get stressed about study – it can get tedious, and the homework tends to mount up. But one thing that keeps me going is the end result. My lecturer said the other day that when it comes to persuading people (as that is our topic for the course) it is about your credibility and why they should listen to you. There are a lot of leading factors. One she mentioned was professionalism; although it can be influenced by everything you stand for and how you present yourself, having that professionalism helps to a large extent.

At the moment things might be stressful, and before you know it, Christmas will come along, another year will be over and you re-asses your life. I think it’s important to do that; I’m constantly critiquing what I want out of life, and how I should go about getting it.

There comes to a point where you just have to let it happen.  Control whatever you can, but what is out of your control is simply that.

I tend to get philosophical around this time as it nears my birthday, and this year I will be 20. I’m already freaking out that I’ll have a mid-life crisis, or that maybe I already am, before I’m even half way through my life.

It’s true what they say: it’s the little things. That saying can relate to numerous different things, but for those of you (like me) who are planning their life and chipping away at a 9-5 job or a Uni degree, these things – although they consume lots of your time – are little things in preparation for your future.

Now before you read the rest of this newsletter, remember to have a balance in your life. Whether it’s health-wise or even job/social balance, it’s important to enjoy your time.

“ Uncertainty is the only certainty there is” – John Allen Paulos

I hope you have all had a great month and continue to do so!



Shaz’s Story

Meet Shaz, who is on the board of Diabetes Counselling Online and has been kind enough to share her journey

Diabetes was a health issue I knew little about. It had something to do with sugar levels, right? It was in 2005 that my knowledge suddenly increased, and it certainly wasn’t by choice! I hadn’t been feeling unwell all year but after visiting my local doctors on numerous occasions it was put down to glandular fever, which I suffered with in 2004. I was constantly feeling tired, thirsty and finding it hard to concentrate. Being quite an active teenager it was very noticeable. I wasn’t participating in sport as much and just wanted to sleep.

Easter weekend in my family means going to our family shack, and in 2005 this was no different. I spent the day filling myself with chocolate, because that’s what Easter is all about isn’t it? Little did I know that this weekend would be a pivotal point of my life, and that all that chocolate I ate would lead to a life-changing diagnosis.

I left the shack early, feeling tired, and spent the whole night going to the toilet and drinking litres of fluid – I just couldn’t seem to quench my thirst. My parents arrived home early in the morning and my mother, being a nurse, knew that something wasn’t right. She took me to my grandma’s house where she checked my sugar levels on her glucose meter; the reading returned high. I was taken to the local hospital where more tests were completed. It was at this point I was first introduced to the word ‘diabetes’.

I was flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), I don’t remember much about the flight because I was barely conscious, but I do remember my time at the RAH well.  It was there that I met a diabetes educator who told me about diabetes and the implications Type 1 diabetes would have on my life. I spent a few weeks in hospital and at home learning the new routine that was going to part of the rest of my life; testing sugar levels, reading results, injecting insulin, learning about carb counting and how to manage sugar levels, so that I could still participate in everyday activities and live a normal life.

I remember meeting a dietician who asked me what my usual recess snack was. Thinking I was a pretty healthy kid I replied  “an apricot bar and fruit box.” That day I learnt a very important lesson about sugar and the importance of reading nutritional information and ingredient lists of all products.

A few weeks after my diagnosis I returned to school, but unfortunately being in year 12 I missed out on a lot of important lessons and information and had to drop one subject, which ultimately affected my university aspirations. I picked up a Diploma in Business Administration so that I was still able to complete my SACE. At first, injecting at school was a big issue for me and I would go to the teachers’ staff room every lunch time and lock myself away to do my testing and injections. I did this for a few weeks, but thanks to some very supportive teachers and my wonderful friends, my confidence grew and I became less self-conscious and over time, started injecting in front of others.

After year 12 I continued studying the Diploma of Business Administration and once I completed this I started studying a Diploma in Population Health which I have now also completed. In 2012 I took the plunge and decided that it wasn’t too late to fulfil my university dreams. I have been studying a Bachelor of Community Development for 18 months now and in 2014/2015 I plan to study a post-graduate certificate and Diploma in Counselling and Rehabilitation. I am currently employed as a project officer and early childhood intervention consultant with Health SA.

I have also got the travel bug; since 2008 I have been to 9 different countries including Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Philippines, India and Nepal. I have been white water rafting and ridden elephants in Thailand, sailed the coast of Cambodia and Vietnam visiting some of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen, flown over the Grand Canyon and Mt Everest, visited the Taj Mahal and stayed in some of the remote villages of South East Asia.

I have also been very fortunate and privileged to volunteer with a charity called New Hope Cambodia in 2011 and 2012 and will be returning later this year with my husband. Living and working with some of the most humble and friendly people I have ever met has been life changing and really puts things in perspective. Being diagnosed with diabetes has been the worst – and best – thing that has happened to me. There is no doubt that it is draining having to test and inject 6 times a day but it has also made me appreciate things that most take for granted. I have access to treatment and medication but for the people of Cambodia and other third-world countries, diabetes is a disease many have never heard of and few fully understand. Treatment is scarce and many die undiagnosed. Type 1 diabetes will always be part of my life and I can’t change that. It has taught me to be more resilient and appreciative of even the smallest things. In a way I am grateful for the diagnosis (if I only chocolate didn’t affect sugar levels!).


What advice would you give?

I decided to put a question to the public and get their opinion on it.

“What advice would you give to a family who have recently found out their child has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes?”

The responses were inspiring and comforting and what any new family dealing with diabetes would want to hear. So without any further delay, here it is.

“Take one day at a time” – Brooke Morris

“Stay Strong” – Jules Valentine

“That everything will be okay, even though at the time of diagnoses you don’t think your life will ever be okay again.  Hang in there.” – Sharee Outson

“Things do get easier; just take it one day at a time.” – Shelley Price

“To trust your instincts.” – Karen Turnill

“Relax.  Take it one day at a time.” – Sandra White

“It gets easier.” – Christina Louise Mclain-Israelson

“The advice I would give is: don’t listen to family/friends who think they know all about it, and who say things that upset you e.g. about some elderly relative with either Type 1 or Type 2. Or else a friend whose only research is from a diabetes website that they happened to Google and which may not have the appropriate or correct information e.g. from anywhere on the internet world, and not something which relates to us here in Australia or to children diagnosed with Type 1.” – Margaret McEvoy

“It is really hard at first but you will get into a routine, and although it’s not going to go away, it will get easier and you will be surprised how well you adapt to it.” – Kelly Jones

“To find a friend who has already lived it to give support and advice – better than any doctor or nurse.” – Nicole Vanroon-Henry

“That it is a huge rollercoaster ride: you will constantly learn things, and constantly be surprised by yourself and your child.  There is always help and always someone who will listen.  Take each day as it comes and take time out for yourselves wherever possible.  You can never have a break from diabetes but things do get easier as time goes on.  Ask questions, research things for yourself, be proactive.  Life is what you make of it and I do believe we are chosen to be the parents of Type 1 kids for a reason, because there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my daughter and I have all the time in my life to devote to her.  Type 1 diabetics are truly special – look at the support you are already receiving from these amazing families.” – Kelly Culbertson.

“Not to let it rule you or your family’s lives; let it fit into your life.  To understand that there will be tough and hard times, times when you feel like crying and asking “why?” It is okay to do so.  Always remember though: we are given challenges that we can handle, it is just how we approach those challenges that make all the difference.” – Sandra And family

“Find a great diabetes educator; they are worth their weight in gold.  It does get easier and you find a new ‘normal’. Be patient and it is okay to feel sad and angry about the diagnosis, this too will lessen.” – Nikki Smith.

There’s not much left for me to say, as they pretty much have covered all the advice one would need.  It’s inspiring seeing all these parents share their thoughts and tips; it goes to show that no matter how alone you are feeling in this process, there are people out there willing to help you through the hard times. Thanks to all for sharing.


Rural focus – Mikki story

My name is Mikki, I am 48, female and have Type 2 diabetes. I was diagnosed approximately 4 years ago and my partner was pre-diabetic. At that time I didn’t take it that seriously. We are both obese and have heart problems. I did not get much of an education into what to do except to test my sugars twice a day and take these tablets as required. To lose weight, stop smoking and start exercising was a much harder road to take, and I couldn’t – and didn’t want to. It was all too hard. What I needed was a bit of guidance and support.

Move ahead 3 ½ years and my mood and attitude had spiralled down. I was in a deep abyss of self-misery. My partner and I were arguing and at our wits end. I hadn’t been checking my bloods lately as my mood spiralled and I spent the days in bed but not getting a restful sleep and then stayed up all night playing games on Facebook. In despair my partner told me to check my bloods. Yep; sure enough, they were at 22mmol. I rang my doctor after 3 high readings and he called me in. Without much ado he brought out the insulin pen and with a flourish he showed me how to use it. My face went pale. I was used to the periodic blood tests I have but this was an injection a day! I did not want to go down this road. Well I am now on a daily slow release insulin dose and seem to be doing much better. I have more energy and proper sleep hours. Still to come is the weight, smoking and exercise.


Recipe ( winter/summer)

Lately I have had the urge to cook, and I almost always opt for the ‘sweet’ options. When I saw my friends had made their own banana bread I thought I should try that, so I hopped on Google and came across this gluten free recipe – I have yet to try it, so hopefully there are no major disasters.

With gluten free foods, bread is always one that struggles with taste, I have yet to find a loaf of bread that tastes like bread, which leads to me usually toasting it to make the taste and texture better.

4 very ripe bananas, roasted (recipe follows)

1 1/2 cups  all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

2 large eggs

2/3 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup chopped pecans


1. Position an oven rack in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and mix on low speed until blended. Add the butter and continue to mix on low speed until blended. Add the eggs, increase the speed to medium and blend until smooth. Reduce the speed to low, immediately add the buttermilk, and gradually bring the mixer up to high speed. Continue to mix until the batter is light and fluffy, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Stir in the bananas, vanilla, and pecans just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and cover loosely with aluminium foil.

4. Bake the banana bread for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a knife or wooden skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let the banana bread cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan and then carefully turn the loaf onto the wire rack. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. If serving the banana bread with cream cheese frosting—an act we heartily endorse—then let the banana bread cool completely before slicing. (Any leftover bread ought to be wrapped in aluminium foil or plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)


Roasting Bananas

Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil. Arrange the bananas in a row on the prepared baking sheet. Using a paring knife, make 6 small slits in the top side of each banana peel. Roast until the peels are black and bulging, with juices oozing from the vents you created prior to roasting – this is about 15 minutes for regular-size bananas. Remove from the oven and let the bananas cool completely on the pan.

Hold one of the roasted bananas over a bowl and begin peeling the roasted banana. The flesh of the banana should fall out seamlessly. Holding the peel of the banana over the bowl, run your fingers or a spoon along the interior of the skins, as you would a squeegee down a window pane, to extract the caramelized juices. Mash the bananas in the bowl with a fork or a potato masher until no large clumps are visible.

I got this recipe from:


Diabetes Counselling Online Will Be At The Royal Adelaide Show!

If you live in Adelaide or are going to be visiting next week, why not come and say hello to our Diabetes Counselling Online volunteers at the Royal Adelaide Show.  Diabetes Counselling will be selling tickets for the 2013 Channel 9 Telethon Distinctive Home & Land Lottery to help raise funds to help grow and sustain the free online counselling services Diabetes Counselling Online offers to the community.

Our volunteers will be at the Channel 9 Telethon Distinctive Home & Land Lottery Stand in the foyer of the Jubilee Pavilion on:           Tuesday the 10th September 3-9pm

Thursday the 12th September 9am-3pm

You will be able to purchase tickets for $10 each or you can purchase a book of 5 for $40.00 for your chance to win.

First Prize is a furnished home at Aspire at Evanston South valued at over $450,000.

Fully donated by Distinctive Homes, Lanser Communities, Supreme Kitchens and Taste Furniture.


  1. Mikki Johnson on September 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    It was good reading my story as I feel I have progressed in my journey. I am still adjusting my insulin levels and due for my 3 monthly blood tests next week so it will be interesting to see the results. My doctor allowed me 5 sessions with a physio to help me exercise with my back injury. After 2 sessions I have improved my range of movement and now we are walking around the block twice a day. About 10-15 mins. Have given up the smoking and reduced the meal sizes. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to share my story. I hope it helps others as it has helped me.

    • Helen-Edwards on September 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      Mikki it is so generous to share your story and wonderful to hear about all the progress you are making! How wonderful, go you! Life becomes so much better when we feel healthy and in control of our lives and our health. Keep sharing the journey x