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Interview with Emma

Your name, your occupation,  and for how long you’ve been a diabetic?

My name is Emma, I am currently training to be a health coach and have been diabetic for 18 years now.

When were you told you had diabetes and what was that experience like?

I can’t actually remember my diagnosis since I was so young. However I remember my parents saying they had a hard time diagnosing me. I was rapidly losing weight, constantly thirsty and experiencing a few other symptoms after I had just had been ill with a virus. My parents took me to the doctor who said nothing was wrong with me but they stuck to their instincts and took me straight to the hospital where the doctor there did one finger prick and diagnosed me straight away with type 1!

What assistance / information / technology were you given for your diabetes?

Since being diagnosed I’ve been regularly seeing my diabetes team at my local hospital. I usually go every 3 months. I normally see my doctor who goes through all my blood sugar readings and we discuss what insulin changes I should make and sometimes I see a dietician who helps me with carb counting and staying healthy. This has been where I’ve got most of my assistance and information to do with diabetes until recently when I joined the diabetic community on Instagram. This is where I get a lot of my information now. I was on daily injections till that age of 8 when I changed to a medtronic pump. I stayed with the wired pump till age 14 where I changed to a non-wired pump, the Omnipod which I am still on now.

When you were told you had diabetes, did you know what it was / did you know anybody else with diabetes?

I had no idea what it was being so young. No one in my family had it and we knew no other people the same age that had it. I think back then it was unusual to have it so young so it was a bit of a shock to everyone.

Did you tell people you had it? Do you tell people now that you have it or is it something you keep hidden?

My parents told my teachers and would always tell people who were looking after me if we ever went anywhere because it was important they knew to look out for me. I do tell people now if it comes up in conversation. I spent most of my teenage years hiding it because I was so worried about being ‘different’ but I’ve slowly got more confident with it.

What are the main struggles of living with diabetes? And what part does the technology play in this?

For me the main struggles are that it’s non-stop. I struggled growing up trying to keep my sugars down and never being able to have a day off. I also think growing up being diabetic I found my other main struggle to be accepting it! I always thought it would be cured or I could ‘deal with it tomorrow’. I hated being different from my friends and having so much more to think about over such every day things, such as eating food. This definitely affected my control for a number of years because I just tried to forget about it. My technology played a part in this when I was growing up as I found having to prick my fingers to test my blood sugar and wear a wired pump that wasn’t easily hidden like it was drawing attention to myself and inviting people to ask questions, which, I hated. As technology has developed and I am now on a non-wired pump and can scan my phone on my arm to test my to test my sugars it’s much easier to be discreet and I can keep it private if I want to. Technology has also made it easier to look after myself because I don’t feel it’s such an effort to test my blood sugar using my sensor now compared to testing my sugars with a finger prick. I see it now less of a chore and more of an option which is very big for me after years of diabetes burnout.

If you could design your own diabetes technology, what would it look like? (This answer could be drawn or described.)

I would design a pump and test kit that is connected to a phone app. I would want it the size of the free style libre sensor on my body which can be worn anywhere and you scan it for your blood sugar then if it is too high or low it will automatically correct your sugars via the app.

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