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When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was told about hypos. I was told about a whole heap of things, and hypos was just one of them. To be honest, I can’t really remember the exact way hypoglycaemia was described to me, other than it being a very matter of fact part of my overall introduction to type 1 diabetes.

There was other stuff that terrified me. If I close my eyes, I can still picture the images I was shown about diabetes-related complications. That discussion has had a long-lasting effect and I am still haunted by those photos.

But hypoglycaemia was explained as something that is likely to happen, that must be treated immediately and that there were certain things that increase the chance of it happening.

Diabetes-related complications sounded as though they had the potential to limit my life forever. Hypos on the other hand sounded just like a huge inconvenience. And an excuse to eat Nutella. (I was never advised to treat lows with Nutella. I just decided that myself.)

So with that introduction to it all, when did I start to fear hypos?

It certainly wasn’t after the first one. In fact, that was a just a little episode of curiosity. ‘Ah…so this is what that hypo thing is all about,’ I thought as I live commentated it for my poor mother.

For at least the first ten of living with diabetes, I had all my hypo symptoms. I’d woken at night time when I was low, treated and went back to sleep. Sure there were some lows that seemed to take longer to manage and to get over, but I always did so without any real issues. I worked out that there were different types of hypos with different personalities. When I was pregnant with our daughter I passed out from a hypo, and another time had a seizure in my sleep. But there was a direct line I could draw from pregnancy to low glucose level, so I just moved on.

So when did I get to the point of fear?

I don’t have any answers for this, and I can only speak of my own diagnosis experience. Hypoglycaemia was not presented to me as something that should terrify me.

Night time lows were also never presented as something scary. There were times I was advised to check overnight, but there were always reasons for that: when I started pumping, I was asked to do a 2am check for the first week. When I was pregnant I was told that if I woke up to go to the loo, it may be a good idea to check and bolus if I was high (not because there was concern about being low). When I have been playing around with basal checking, I might set an alarm to check overnight.

Where did the fear come from? I have no idea.

There are so many What if…?’questions woven into the tapestry of diabetes. With hypos, especially after a nasty one, I would spend a lot of time asking those questions. I have read posts I wrote after one of those lows and the terror is palpable, even though it’s been so long since I last actually had one. But despite the current absence of those difficult hypos, there is still a part of me that feels terrified.

Anxiety and fear about hypoglycaemia is obviously not only an issue for the person likely to experience the lows. (I wrote here about fear of lows from people with diabetes and how that can impact on us.) Perhaps that goes some of the way to fuel the fear, but it doesn’t explain where their fear comes from.

There are other aspects of diabetes that I don’t fear. I don’t fear highs even though I know they can be dangerous. I’ve had DKA and it was honestly one of the most awful experiences I’ve had. Yet I don’t fear it.

Somewhere, somehow, at some point I leant to fear lows. I moved from hypoglycaemia being an inconvenience to being something to fear. I don’t know when or how. But it happened.

Full disclosure: here I am eating Nutella to celebrate World Nutella Day earlier this week. Not because I was low.

It’s the final day of the eighth annual #DBlogWeek, created by Karen from Bittersweet Diabetes. This is the sixth year I’ve taken part and it’s a great opportunity to not only write about some truly interesting topics, but also a chance to read some blogs you may not otherwise.  Here are the links to today’s posts. 

Today’s prompt: Let’s wrap up the week by sharing a little more about ourselves, beyond the chronic illness we or our loved ones live with.  Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU.  If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can.   Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes!

I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 19 years. I work for a diabetes organisation and have done so for over 15 years. I write a diabetes blog. I am an ambassador for a couple of diabetes-related charities. Occasionally, I can be found speaking about diabetes on radio and television, or writing about it for online and print publications. There is a lot of diabetes in my life.

And yet diabetes is actually such a small part of my life. It may be hard to believe, but it is the truth.

When I have a few idle hours, you won’t find me thinking about diabetes. If I catch up with friends, we rarely, if ever, speak of diabetes.

In fact, the thing that takes up a lot of my spare time, and spare mental space, is food and cooking – especially baking. I thought today I’d share some of my recent baking activities and recipes, just in time for weekend bake-ups!

One day, about two weeks ago, I had an urge to get out the piping bag and make macaroons. As you do. Not to be confused with the ubiquitous macaron, macaroons are little mounds of coconut, egg white, sugar, vanilla and (in my world) edible glitter. This was the outcome.

(For the record, two days later, I decided to up the ante, looking for fancier macaroons. I tried another recipe that called for shredded rather than desiccated coconut, and they were an unmitigated fail! Also, I broke my piping bag in the process of trying to push the too-large coconut strands through the nozzle. Moral of the story: sometimes the more elaborate the recipe, the poorer the outcome!)

The kidlet decided that we’d not made gingerbread folks for a while. So we did. And they were so much fun, dressed in bright colourful candied-sugar buttons!

These came on the heels of a shortbread bake-up a few weeks earlier. Again, it was the kidlet saying that we’d not made them for ages, and this was the result of a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen. We used a Stephanie Alexander xmas shortbread recipe, but simply shaped the dough into weird square/rectangular shapes. The Smarties on top are a nod to a local café we used to drop into when she was just a little kidlet. She’d slurp on a babycino, getting the sprinkled chocolate from the top all over her face and we’d share one of their colourful, spotty shortbread cookies. She promised that these tasted just like she remembered!

And while we’re talking fun biscuits (or cookies for my US friends), check out these doughnut-inspired masterpieces created by the kidlet using Nigella’s basic butter biscuit recipe. They tasted as amazing as they look! (This recipe is THE best never-fail biscuit recipe and a brilliant opportunity to show off any cookie-cutter shape you have!)

For Mother’s day afternoon tea last weekend – with Autumn in full swing – I made this delicious and rather impressive-looking caramel apple upside-down cake to serve up, with ice-cream generous dollops of double cream to my mum and mother-in-law.

But one of the most wonderful things I’ve made of late are these Nutella biscuits. The recipe was sent to me by none other than #DBlogWeek creator, Karen Graffeo, who knew I’d not be able to resist the Nutella-y gooeyness of these cookies. They were an absolute hit with everyone who tried them and will definitely be making a regular appearance in the kid’s lunchbox!

And finally – this recipe appeared in my inbox yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon, with 10 minutes before a teleconference was due to start I whipped it up and threw it in the oven. It was delicious!  I love an easy recipe that turns out exactly as it promises.

It’s not hard to know why baking is such a wonderful outlet for me. I love the methodical process of following a recipe combined with the freedom to tweak and adjust as I want. I often bake with the kidlet by my side, and as we throw together ingredients, or decorate cakes and biscuits, we chat and catch up – often about not much at all, but sometimes about pretty serious things too. Creating those opportunities to just hang out and talk with her is important, but mostly, I really like baking with her!

And the end result is always worth it! A house that smells divine, and homemade, delicious treats pulled from the oven to share with family, friends and the neighbours. A pretty damn perfect hobby!

Baby, it’s cold outside. It really is. I am shivering my way through most mornings, cursing the cold and complaining about how far away Summer is. Which is all really weird because I think the coldest it’s been is about 7 degrees (Celsius), and a mere few months ago, I was delighted and delighting at the New York snow. I think that’s what I need. Snow in Melbourne. Snow makes the cold worth it.

Anyway, sit somewhere warm and have a read at what I have been checking out lately.

She quits helmets

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think Sarah Wilson is a fool. She has done nothing to alter that opinion with her rant and rage against mandatory helmets for cyclists. She wrote this at the end of last year and it has resurfaced, once again showing how irresponsible and downright stupid she is.

If I had a superpower, it would not be flying or invisibility or a magic unicorn. No. It would be to mute people who are dangerous; people with D-grade celebratory status with a following who sprout harmful rhetoric. Sarah Wilson would possibly be first on my list.


Yesterday, this media release from beyondblue had me cheering. Raising awareness about men’s health – in particular men’s mental health – is a tough gig and beyondblue are doing a damn fine job trying to cut through.

Inside Out

When I saw the preview for the new Pixar film, Inside Out, I was so excited. What a gentle, fun, and enjoyable way to talk about mental health with kids. I couldn’t wait to see it. I still can’t. Aaron took the kidlet and one of her friends to see it while I was in the US and they all thought it was terrific. And it has sprouted some really interesting discussion about the topic.

I love this article which talks about the importance of having a strong female character as the protagonist of the film who is not a princess.

Jenna from the Block

A few years ago, Jenna and Josh were contestants on the Block. Josh was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a couple of years ago, and this moving story from his wife, Jenna, is doing the interweb rounds here at the moment. Thanks for raising awareness of diabetes, guys!

Up your nose

Glucagon injections are not fun. They are not fun for the person who is jabbed (the jabbee?)– mostly because it means that they are having a nasty hypo that warrants being jabbed – and they are not fun for the person doing the jabbing (the jabber?).

Under what is usually an incredibly stressful situation, the ‘jabber’ has to open the little orange box, draw up things into a syringe, shoot it out again, mix it up and then inject it.

Not. Fun.

So, it is with great interest that I have been reading about the trials of inhalable glucagon. Read about it here.

Friends like this

My friend Alecia is awesome. She is uber-talented (her jewellery designs are stunning and her lighting designs a marvel) and is so much fun to hang out with – even if she makes me drink things that taste like orange bathroom cleaner.IMG_6629

We hung out recently in NYC, where she took me to a gorgeous place for dinner and we ate the best Brussel sprouts ever. And then I took her to hear some jazz where she made guitarist Mike Stern kiss me three hundred times so she could get the perfect photo. I didn’t complain. Neither did he, actually.

She is also slightly crazy. But she is crazy for a cause which, I guess, makes it kind of okay. Next month, she is going to be riding 100 miles on a bike. In our language that’s 161 kms. In whatever language, that’s a long way.

If you can, throw her some coin. All money raised is going towards finding a cure for diabetes. Which she has had for 36 years, and since 2001, has raised over USD$350,000 for a cure for type 1 diabetes. I did mention she’s awesome right?

Music and words

Most weeks, I post a link to music I have been listening to. This is fun. And embarrassing at times. But I also think that I should start to post links to some of my favourite JK Rowling quotes because the number of times she beautifully and succinctly manages to say something that I have been trying to bash out is startling.

For all the blog posts and talks I’ve ever given on the importance of language, I could have simply said this.

JK Rowling

Remedy injury. Always.


One of the best films ever is the Peter Sellers’ classic The Party. A couple of years ago, we bought our first ever Josh Agle (known as SHAG) print which is a tribute to this fabulous film.

It was the first in The Party series. Somehow, we completely missed the release of the second print (and now can’t find one anywhere!), but a few weeks ago, when visiting Outré Gallery, we saw and bought the third.

Last night, after a couple of hours of lining things up, measuring things, banging hooks into walls (very satisfying), we finally have our SHAG gallery done.

It looks spectacular and this photo absolutely doesn’t do it justice – mainly because it was really difficult to get the whole wall in one photo. Those larger photos in the middle are each about 150cms wide. Nonetheless, here it is! And we can’t stop looking at them!

Drink Nutella

I mentioned it’s cold, right? Well, here is a nice way to warm you up. Nutella hot chocolate. Just because.

This is me in a Nutella t-shirt.

Nutella t-shirt

Did you send it to me? It arrived on Monday, sent to me at work with a lovely ‘Royal Mail’ stamp on it, suggesting that someone from the UK popped it in the post. 

I would love to be able to say thank you to the person who sent it to me, so if it was you, please let me know so I can send you a virtual (Nutella) cupcake! 

You know how I’m always saying that I feel very fortunate to have an online community that is so wonderful? And how the DOC gives me so much? And that I get support, love and reassurance? And all that stuff about how I feel connected and part of a global community? I’m always banging on about how I have information about real life with diabetes available and I learn so, so much. All the time. And how lucky I’ve been to meet people from every corner of the world and hear about their experiences.

It’s all true. All of it. And then, it gets taken up a notch with this.

I get sent parcels in the post:


All the way from the other side of the world:


Inside, a handwritten note:


And scrunchy pink wrapping:


Underneath was the most wonderful surprise:


Most, most wonderful!


And then…


Dinner was served.

A huge thank you to the beautiful and wonderful Annie who I met because my effed pancreas and her gorgeous daughter’s pancreas are both good for nothing slobs. If I have to live with diabetes, knowing people like this make it a hell of a lot better.


The wonderful Annie (who will possibly want to shoot me and make me return my wonderful gift for posting this photo of her).

Things I know to be true:

  • It’s February already.
  • Melbourne seems to have misplaced its Summer.
  • As much as I loved being in New York and had the best holiday ever, it’s always swell to come home.
  • And having Melbourne coffee running through my veins is making me a happy chicken.
  • Being at work is not the worst thing, especially when there is a year of really exciting things on the horizon.
  • I am confused that my computer does not recognise the word Nutella and wants to correct it to Nigella. Which is equally awesome and sexy.

Also – the internet never disappoints.

Frocking brilliant

Sometimes it’s tough for a dame to find a place for her insulin pump. Bra? Good in theory, but what if you’re not wearing a bra? Or your bra is being uncooperative? Thigh strap? Again, great idea, but not great if the thigh strap comes loose and starts rolling down your leg and you end up in the Ministry of Silly Walks. Also, it can look like you are packing heat. Or you end up using ugly (although effective) Tubigrip. Pocket? Usually produces an unsightly bulge that may have people searching for a matching Adam’s apple.

What’s the solution?

Read here about some clever folk who have come up with a rather dashing frock with a secret little place to hide a pump.

And who doesn’t love a LBD? Can’t wait to get my hands on – and body into – one of them! Available soon – keep an eye out here.

Two spreads in one

There are many tough decisions in life. Lennon or McCartney? Coffee or tea? Jaffas or Malteasers? (Both, obviously.)

And the most difficult: peanut butter or Nutella? Can’t decide? Then have both! In domestic goddess mode on Sunday (full skirt, frilly apron, high heels and tiara) I made these.


And they are were good. And totally bolus worthy!

Here’s the recipe. (And here’s a tip. When freezing the Nutella before making the biscuits, do half on one baking sheet and half on another. Take out one baking sheet, make half the biscuits. THEN take our the second baking sheet and make the second half. Otherwise the Nutella starts to melt and ends up all messy and all over your fingers and you have to lick it off your fingers and then freeze more.)

Oh, and while we’re talking Nutella, let me introduce you to my happy place:

Giant nutella

Support DA-Vic and enjoy the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (WIN WIN!!)

This year, Diabetes Australia – Vic (disclaimer: my place of employment, but I am writing about this because I want to, not because I was asked. Also it is about food. And wine. So there’s that too.) is the charity partner for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Some people may think that this is an odd partnership, but actually, the messages of both DA-Vic and MFWF are strongly aligned. It’s all about people taking an active role in managing their health – regardless of if they are living with diabetes or not. And having a good understanding of the food we choose to eat is part of this.

It’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness of diabetes, reaching people we may otherwise not reach.

Now, everyone knows that I am not really an exercise fan. However, I can definitely get on board this. It’s literally a moveable – well moving – feast where participants take a walk around the Tan, stopping at stations for a delicious five course brekkie. And better yet, 5 per cent of ticket/registration fees will be donated to DA-Vic.

Register here!

Noteworthy connections

Many of you may not know that in a former life I was a classically-trained musician. That ship sailed a long time ago and I no longer play music. However, my husband is a musician and music is a huge part of my family’s life.

I have always been interested in the link between music and health. The Greek God, Apollo, was God of both healing and music, so the connection has been around for a long time!

Music has been used as therapy in a variety of medical conditions from Parkinson’s Disease to recovery from stroke. I am not going to say the healing powers of music can cure diabetes (although I’m pretty sure some fool will tell you that). But, music can be a stress reliever. And for me, reduced stress means less erratic BGLs.

There are also strong links between music having positive effects on mental health as discussed in this information sheet from ReachOut.

I love this so much

I’ve shared this blog before here, but this post from Annabel over at The Understudy Pancreas is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing. Full stop.

I can’t begin to imagine what parenting a child with diabetes would be like, but Annie does such a wonderful job of explaining how her family do it.

The thing that I probably admire most is how Annie never, ever makes her daughter’s (Pumplette) diabetes about herself. She supports her daughter in the best ways possible, encouraging her independence, and being there for her – with what Pumplette needs. Great parenting advice all ‘round, really.

I wish I could reach into my computer and give you a huge hug, Annie. Your darling girl is so great.

Radio Deluxe

When we were in New York, we spent a very pleasant evening at Birdland listening to John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey perform. It was a gorgeous gig, made even more wonderful when they dedicated a song to the ‘family from Australia’.

Each week, John and Jessica have a syndicated radio show (they claim it is ‘live from high above Lexington Avenue in the Deluxe Living Room’, and while I suspect it is actually recorded in a studio, I like to think of them in their living room at home, gazing out over the New York skyline, casually chatting into a couple of vintage microphones) and it is an absolute treat to listen to.

Check it out here. It makes a great soundtrack to the workday!

What do ‘patients’ really think? (Maybe stop using the word ‘patient’ to begin with…..)

British medical journal The BMJ has started a fascinating new series called Do you know what your patient is thinking? This is part of their patient partnership strategy and will hopefully help HCPs better understand all aspects of life with a chronic health condition – not just what …..

The first in the series, Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight, can be read here. New submissions will be published monthly.

Living Vertical

Steve Richert has lived with diabetes for 17 years. A couple of years ago, Steve wanted to show that diabetes hasn’t stopped him from doing what he wants, so he and his wife, Stefanie, travelled across North America and climbed for 365 consecutive days. Just like with diabetes, there were no days off.

I absolutely love the catalyst for this project. This is what Steve writes on the Glu website:

‘In 2011, I had lived for almost 13 years with type 1 diabetes, and despite the normal ups and downs, seasoned with occasional close calls, it had never stopped me from being me. In fact, it made me who I was. When I was on a trip to visit friends, Stefanie and I drove past a billboard aimed at fundraising for diabetes research. It made my blood boil.

It was a smattering of grim statistics and stock imagery geared to promote the idea that life with diabetes was no life at all—that we are weak and helpless victims of this condition. Before this point it hadn’t ever occurred to me that the message of being empowered had any place in diabetes. I didn’t know anyone else with type 1 diabetes and I assumed everyone just came to terms with it as I did. Seeing this billboard made me aware for the first time of how we are portrayed—and how that can impact someone.’

A film has been made of Steve and Stefanie’s adventure. You can read about and watch Living Vertical: Project 365 here.

Save a child…..

Thinking about Valentine’s Day? Don’t forget to Spare a Rose, Save a Child.

No four words sum up this campaign better than this ‘Flowers die. Children shouldn’t’.

Please donate.  Remember the equation: One rose = insulin for one month. Multiply as many times as you can.

That’s all for now, folks. Happy Tuesday.

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