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How a young Mount Eliza woman manages dozens of daily diabetes decisions

Alexandra Nolte has been living with diabetes since she was 11 years old.

Alex Nolte makes more than 100 decisions about her blood glucose levels, medications, food, exercise, work and even driving, so she can live healthy and well with type 1 diabetes.

The 25 year old from Mount Eliza was diagnosed at 11 years old.

These are decisions she’s been making every day since then.

“Everyone’s experience of diabetes is different,” says Alex. “You could say it’s like living with a full time job.”

“I have been fortunate enough not to struggle with any mental health issues, however I do experience occasional anxiety, about going into hyperglycaemia during important events or overnight.”

“To cope with this, I’ve learnt to trust my judgement and my ability to manage the condition, and not to fixate on the possibility of hypoing if there isn’t any real reason that I would have a hypo.”

Alex travelled to Spain in 2019, a journey she says is possible because of effective diabetes management.

Diabetes is where the sugar in the blood becomes higher than normal.

Our bodies use glucose as a main source of energy. Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short term health complications.

“While most days are good days, I’ve definitely had days where I’ve struggled, when the condition becomes overwhelming and frustrating,” says Alex.

“When my blood glucose levels are difficult to control or become unpredictable, or when a hypo has stopped me from doing something – it can all become too much.”

“On those days I find talking to my family and friends helps, as well as giving myself the ‘day off’ from worrying too much about having perfect blood glucose levels, helps me to get back on track.”

This year National Diabetes Week is running from 12 – 18 July, with the Heads Up campaign focusing on supporting the emotional and mental health of people living with diabetes.

Research shows people who live with diabetes, face up to 180 diabetes-related health decisions every day, creating thoughts, worries and fears which can impact their health.

Diabetes distress, anxiety and burnout are potential complications.

Alex says the support from the Diabetes Educators at Peninsula Health over the past 13 years have made a difference, not just for her physical but her mental health as well.

The support has helped her live a productive life, working for Cancer Council Victoria as a Cancer Strategy Program Officer and travelling the world.

“They’ve taught me how to manage my condition in every way, from counting carbohydrates, testing my blood sugars, learning to inject using syringes, then pens and now how to use an insulin pump and a continuous blood glucose monitor,” says Alex.

“They have always been there to help when I’ve had challenges, been sick or needed to chat about something.”

“Being able to attend the clinic once every three months, whilst also being able to email and call the diabetes educators as often as needed is a fantastic support – knowing there is a capable team of lovely people I can reach out to is very reassuring.”

Alex says anyone trying to manage their daily burden of living with diabetes should talk to their Diabetes Educator about developing a routine.

“I try to eat and exercise at similar times each day to keep my blood glucose levels predictable and manageable, because I know how important this is I usually won’t work through lunch.”

“I don’t skip meals and I try to make sure I go for a walk everyday – a happy by-product of this is that it helps me to manage everyday stress as well. The structure and balance helps combat stress and reminds me to get up and take breaks.”

Peninsula Health’s multi-disciplinary team of doctors, dieticians, psychologists and diabetes nurse educators can help with the management and burden of diabetes. To make an appointment with our Diabetes Education Department please call (03) 9784 2660.

For more information about National Diabetes Week go to the Diabetes Australia website.