This week's guest post is from one of our organizers, Laura Cooke. Laura joined our band of brave volunteers after our 2018 event as our social media manager. Laura was also inspired to start a diabetes support group in Portlaoise after attending Thriveabetes in February 2018. See her group’s details here or contact Laura by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
30th Diaversary Congratulations!
Laura is celebrating her 30th year living with type 1 diabetes (Diaversary) in October and shared a glimpse of her 30 years with us in her previous post last year. Read that post here. In this post, Laura shares how isolated she felt after becoming a mother and how this affected her diabetes management, why she came to Thriveabetes in February 2018 and how it helped her.
WHY I WENT TO THRIVEABETES…
by Laura Cooke
"I was feeling so alone and isolated trying to manage my diabetes and I had no other person with type 1 diabetes to talk to about how I was feeling."
I am a member of many type 1 diabetes groups on social media but I felt this wasn't enough. I needed to talk to people face to face.
The Beginning - Becoming a New Mum
It all began in 2016 when my life had changed immensely for the better by becoming a new Mum but my diabetes management also changed immensely, unfortunately, for the worse!!! My whole world turned upside down when I became a parent; crazy hormones, lack of sleep, extra worry and stress about a new life I have to look after and protect. The diabetes that took up so much of your time trying to mind and look after and which affects your normal functioning on a day to day basis gets ignored! And although you know you should be looking after it for your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of your new baby there just isn't enough time.
Looking back, I think I was suffering from mild post-natal depression on top of everything else. By late 2016, I was now back to work part-time and I was trying to get my diabetes management back on track with great difficulty. During that time I came across Thriveabetes on facebook and I decided to go in October 2016 but the tickets were sold out and so I put Thriveabetes to the back of my mind.
As 2017 progressed, work became very stressful and trying to juggle this work stress, motherhood and my diabetes began to take its toll. As we all know stress plays havoc with blood sugars; I really felt lost and very much alone as I struggled to get my diabetes within target. I was struggling with loneliness, isolation, resentment, guilt, frustration, anxiety and fear. I felt I really needed to talk to someone who understood. My family are excellent don't get me wrong but no-one really understands fully what you are going through only another person with diabetes (PWD). These feelings and emotions brought Thriveabetes back into my mind and so I looked it up once more. Thankfully, I was in luck and I booked my ticket to Thriveabetes 2018.
I cannot describe enough how much this conference helped me and inspired me. I came away a different person.
"I feel so inspired, motivated and together, I found more inspiration at Thriveabetes 2018 than I have in my whole 29 years of diabetes."
Not only did I get to meet and chat with other type 1s and type 1 Mums, I also got to listen to so many inspiring speakers who empowered me in all areas of my diabetes. There were talks on the pressure we put ourselves under trying to control every part of diabetes (even factors that are out of our control), diabetes and exercise, diabetes burnout and new technologies and treatments.
The highlight for me was Speaker Joe Solowiejczyk and his talk on Diabetes Burnout (He is also speaking at Thriveabetes 2019!). He spoke about his own diabetes burnout, how often he goes through it and what he does. It made me feel so normal after what I had been going through and it totally erased the guilt that I was feeling! His humour and own personal story helped me to laugh so much and to realise that diabetes burnout is an essential part of managing diabetes, we all have to do it to survive this terrible disease. His talk really changed my life that day and the way I think about diabetes. Of course the guilt tries to sneak in sometimes but I just think of Joe’s talk and laugh!
Thriveabetes helped me in two of the most important parts of diabetes (in my opinion). Firstly, the psychological impact, by that I mean the loneliness and isolation and all the other feelings and emotions that you feel at home trying to management it every single day; having a room FULL of people with type 1 diabetes and being able to chat to them is the most amazing feeling! And, having expert speakers sharing their knowledge in so many areas of diabetes, I was so inspired, I set up my local support group Laois Diabetic Support Group.
Secondly, it helped me face my fear of change, fear of the new and fear of the unknown when thinking about an insulin pump. I had thought about going on an insulin pump for about 10 years before Thriveabetes 2018. Two months after Thriveabetes I started on an insulin pump and facing that fear has changed my life immensely. No hypos, better sleep, less worry about being a T1 Mum having to keep my son safe, I can eat more with better control and most of all much less work and time on my diabetes means more time for the good things in life! I'm diabetic 30 years and my diabetes management has never been better since going on my insulin pump!!! Don't get me wrong I still struggle with it sometimes and I go through diabetes burnout on a regular basis but overall life is so much easier!
The Power of Diabetes Peer Support
I encourage everyone living with diabetes to give Thriveabetes 2019 a try, just once and you will never miss another. I lost my diabetes baggage!!!! In return I gained inspiration and empowerment to tackle my diabetes head on and many friends to share my struggles with!
Thank you so much to Laura for sharing her experience with us. We have almost 100 adults living with type 1 diabetes already registered for Thriveabetes - we would love to have you too!!! Join us and register soon here.
We also have almost 100 parents of children/teenagers registered for Thriveabetes also AND we would love to have you too!!