Sharing Diabetes Experiences - #InItTogether

Quite often when I tweet on twitter, especially when I'm thanking somebody new for adding me who are part of the diabetes community- I quite often hashtag it #diabetes and #inittogether. A hashtag for the non twitter users out there, is when you flag up a topic by using the # icon. It's so as to categorise the subject within the conversation. In other words if you have an interest in say diabetes, and you hashtag the word. Other people who are interested in the topic can then see the conversations that it has been used in.

The reason I use #inittogether when talking about diabetes, is that I genuinely do believe that we are campaigning, fighting and living with the condition together. In recent years some people with diabetes have expressed the view that arguably, people with Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes should call their conditions two different things. People with Type 1 diabetes have pancreas' that have stopped producing insulin and need to take injections as a replacement and regulate their blood sugars. Contributing factors to getting Type 1 diabetes are hereditary or viral related, but completely out of their control. Where as in people with Type 2 diabetes their pancreas still produces some insulin and so their diabetes can be controlled by diet and sometimes tablets. However, the condition develops through life style choices. And because of they're different routes, hence why some people might see it as a point of difference.

However, for me this 'point of difference' came a sharing point when I first met my training partner in athletics and friend Chris. And when I got to know him, everything I thought I knew about Type 2 diabetes went out of the window. Although Chris is a long-jumper and I'm a sprinter we've been training partners for the last year and a half. I'd only ever met four athletes with diabetes previous to meeting Chris, during my athletic career. So for the two of us to end up in the same training group was a welcome coincidence.

Chris was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was 10 years old. He was not and still does not tick any of the stereotype boxes associated with the condition including a poor diet, weight gain etc. Although diagnosis was difficult for Chris, he was in great hands because both his Mum and Dad have diabetes along with an additional 5 members of his family. His Mum has Type 1 diabetes and controls her condition with injections and his Dad has Type 2 the same as Chris. They encouraged him to take up athletics a few years after diagnosis and have been supporting him ever since. Chris is an accomplished long jumper and manages his diabetes alongside training 6 times or more a week. He competes at a high level and sets a great example for the children he coaches.

During training it is amazing to have someone to talk to about the condition, that understands and knows first hand what it's like for your blood sugars to rise from adrenaline before a competition or the frustration of having a hypo because of the exertion of training. We've found that sharing experiences has been a great part of the training experience and living with the condition. Whether it's finding out if something is 'normal for diabetes', having a blood sugar check competition before training or even sharing helpful hints to ease having the condition.

One thing I've passed on that I've found helpful recently is my Protect it socks. Foot care is important in both people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, so when you've found a secret to help you care for your feet- then perhaps it shouldn't be a secret at all. Chris has struggled with foot injuries of late, especially whilst long jumping- which kept him out of training for a few weeks. Hence why I suggested the socks- they ensure that there aren't any horrible pressure points when you're training, and give a smooth even feeling when you wear them. Especially when you do power events like us where you're putting a lot of force through your feet, and effect of which is that it can cause blisters and sore points. But for both of us this hasn't happened with the Protect it socks.The first time he wore them, Chris said they were 'the comfiest socks I've ever worn' and couldn't wait to get more. The news on how comfy they are is now spreading around our group and now even our coach wants to try them. And a happy training group makes for happy performances!

Diabetes doesn't seem so bad when you're #inittogether, which is something that I've learnt through training with Chris, going to support groups and young leaders conferences. So I urge the diabetes community to keep sharing experiences about diabetes and together we're stronger to face the condition in the future.

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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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