Last year, the (current) Australian Prime Minister said that in Australia ‘If you have a go, you get a go’.

What a great sentiment on which to build a nation. Have a go, get a go. Sounds so easy. And you know what? It is. For people like our PM. And, I freely admit and recognise, people like me.

In diabetes, we hear this sentiment in a number of different ways: if you follow your diabetes plan, you’ll be fine. If you keep in line with guidelines, everything will be okay. In fact, you won’t just be fine. You’ll thrive! Because, diabetes can’t/won’t/doesn’t/shouldn’t stop us.

I spoke with someone at the end of last year who said that there was no excuse for people in Australia to not thrive with diabetes because we have ‘free’ healthcare and access to everything we need to do well.

Let’s just unpick that for a minute. Firstly, our healthcare in Australia isn’t ‘free’. It’s taxpayer funded – which is exactly how it should be. It is, however, important to acknowledge that it is not free because often, when we think something is free, we think it has no value. We take it for granted, or, even worse, we take advantage of it, and don’t realise just how significant and valuable it is. I couldn’t out a price on free healthcare to be honest. But I feel incredibly lucky to have been born in a country that has it!

Also, it’s all good and well to say that people have access to all that is needed to thrive, but there is a massive assumption that people actually know what they need, know why they need it, know how to access it, and know what to do with it once they have it.

It’s true that here in Australia we have universal healthcare . But it’s not fair or correct to think that everyone has the same ability to get the best out of the system. Or anything at all out of the system to be honest.

Expecting all people with diabetes to thrive is setting us up to not measure up. And it tells us that it’s not enough to just get by. Surviving isn’t adequate. Being alive isn’t sufficient. We need to go above and beyond all that.

I don’t know about other people with diabetes, but I feel a great pressure to thrive all the time. Honestly, it feels that I don’t have any excuse for that not to be the case. Latest tech – check; easy and affordable access to insulin, diabetes supplies and healthcare – check, check, check; health literate – check; loud and assertive advocate – (annoyingly for any healthcare professional who has to deal with me) check; support network to bring me cake, have my back and cheer me on as needed – check.

What do I have in the way preventing me from thriving? And just how is diabetes stopping me?

The concept of thriving with diabetes comes from a position of privilege. There are some people who really are just getting through, day by day, because diabetes is just so bloody hard for them. For some, diabetes doesn’t even get a look in because, quite frankly, there is more going on that takes precedence in their mind, their life and their day-to-day existence.

The truth for me is this: I don’t really feel as though I am thriving. I feel I am getting along. I’m not running marathons or climbing mountains or swimming channels. There is nothing I am conquering in the name of, or despite, diabetes. Instead, I’m happy to chase sunsets and sit in the fresh air and drink iced coffee to try to keep cool in the endless heatwave we seem to be having. I’m not complaining about it, because even though I feel this pressure, I’ve made peace with being a diabetes underachiever. I don’t need to be somebody else’s version of a diabetes superhero. I just need to do my own version of diabetes.

Magic Melbourne sunsets

While you’re here….

There are, of course, places around the world, where talk of thriving with diabetes simply cannot happen. Being alive with diabetes is hard enough and survival is a constant battle.

February is nearly here (already?) and the 2019 Spare a Rose campaign already well underway. Can you make a donation to provide insulin to keep a child with diabetes alive?  No one should die because they can’t access insulin. You can help by going here and making a donation.