How to stay out of hospital with diabetes: Greg's story

Living with diabetes can be like living with an unwanted houseguest that never leaves.

It invades lives and demands constant attention and sacrifice.

No one knows this better than the 1.3 million Australians hospitalised with diabetes complications each year.

Managing one type of diabetes is challenging. Managing two is daunting. And life-threatening.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body cannot produce insulin, while Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin.

Consider the story of Deborah and Greg.

When Deborah, a self-managing type 1 diabetic patient of 52 years, faced brain cancer her husband Greg, who has Type 2 diabetes, took on a tremendous amount of responsibility.

It began in 2019 with Deborah’s brain cancer diagnosis, followed by extensive surgery that left her incapable of self-managing her diabetes. She developed reading difficulties, poor memory, and tunnel vision.

Greg felt compelled to take full care of the woman he shares his life.

But he had little knowledge of how to manage type 1 diabetes, leading to endless hypoglycaemia episodes.

Then everything changed in 2022 when Deborah had a meningitis infection.

Greg felt the information provided to him and Deborah by the hospital they attended was not sufficiently clear. He also was concerned Deborah might not have been properly assessed, leading to her receiving an insulin dosage that did not consider the carbohydrates in her meals.

“There was a frustrating lack of communication between the endocrinologists, nurses, and the hospital kitchen,” says Greg.

Hypoglycemia – low blood sugar levels – can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, and, if left untreated, life-threatening consequences.

According to Greg, the lack of holistic care for Deborah led to more hypoglycaemia episodes, with insulin dose adjustments only occurring in response to those incidents.

“I had to keep watch of Deborah’s insulin and ended up being burdened to figure it all out myself.”

After Deborah’s discharge, Greg took on the task of managing both of their regimens. He encountered hurdles with blood sugar monitoring and medication doses, leading to increased stress.

Greg’s goal was simple: to keep Deborah out of the hospital.

Frustrated yet resilient, Greg’s main goal was to keep Deborah out of the hospital, so he turned to EACH’s Diabetes Educators and Dietitians for support.

Together, they guided him in effectively managing type 1 diabetes while unravelling the intricate link between carbohydrate intake and insulin dose adjustment.

Diabetes educators empower individuals by providing education, coaching, and goal setting, leading to improved health and a better quality of life.

“Diabetes Educators and Dietitians are knowledgeable and personable,” says Greg. “They support you to understand the condition, educate you on carb counting, guide you in managing insulin and dosage, listen to your needs, and simplify the information to ensure you can go forward confidently.”

Greg credits the decision to seek support from EACH as the turning point that enabled him to gain control over their lives and prevent Deborah from recurrent hypoglycemia episodes.

Ivan Chan, National Clinical Practice Lead for Dietetics at EACH, emphasises the crucial role of diabetes education in preventing serious complications and reducing the need for hospital care.

“Partnering with a self-care diabetic team is a crucial role in empowering clients to confidently manage their diabetes and promote self-reliance”, says Ivan. “By doing so, we can effectively prevent serious complications that keep individuals like Deborah from ending up in a hospital bed.”

EACH provides diabetes education for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. It covers self-management, medical management, and living well with diabetes.

Learn more about our Diabetes Service

Join us this July as EACH hosts Diabetes events for individuals living with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, along with their families and caregivers. These events are organised as part of National Diabetes Week, taking place from July 9th to July 15th, 2023. It’s an opportunity to connect with others navigating life with diabetes. You can talk about your personal stories.

Learn more about our upcoming Diabetes events

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