Claudia Mcguinness of Birkdale was diagnosed with type one diabetes at age 10, but it has really struck home on the eve of her 18th birthday.
This is a time when she’d like to be driving, playing sport and going to parties with her friends and it is a time when she is feeling her lifelong diagnosis most keenly.
And according to recent statistics from Amcal’s 2018 Diabetes Care Review, she is among 20 per cent of people with diabetes who struggle to be themselves and 26 per cent who feel lonely and socially isolated.
“I can’t go for my driver’s license until the HBAIC tests are under nine. I haven’t tested well enough for approval as yet,” she said.
Claudia said diagnosis with diabetes had been life changing.
“I lived for 10 years without it and now eight with it. It has mixed up my life and at times it has been hard to handle,” she said.
On diagnosis, Claudia was a keen dancer and played touch football and netball. She gave up her sport and also hip hop dancing due to its speed and movement.
“Everyone was very supportive but I didn't want to bring my class down by having to stop and eat and check my levels,” she said.
“And at school, of course I wanted to go to high school parties but my parents have always been my comfort zone and I can’t risk not having them near by,” she said.
Further statistics show that thousands of Queenslanders living with diabetes face discrimination in the workplace, with 21 per cent dealing with some work prejudice ranging from taking sick leave and being excluded from social gatherings.
The research has sparked a call by health experts for greater societal acceptance and understanding of the condition. Amcal spokesperson and senior pharmacist James Nevile said it was important for health professionals to understand how poor emotional wellbeing could interfere with physical diabetes management, and to recognise when someone needed support.
“Our research found that people with all forms of diabetes face very common wellbeing challenges – including feeling overwhelmed and anxious about managing their condition, or worried about the risk of developing complications,” he said.
Claudia said she was currently not working in order to deal with acceptance of the condition.
“I find work pretty tough. But I’m keen to start looking in clothing shops. It’s what I want to do – work with make up and fashion,” she said.
“A quarter of Queenslanders surveyed consider diabetes to be a self-inflicted disease and a burden on the health system, and over half believe that fast food availability is to blame for the country’s diabetes epidemic,” Mr Nevile said.
Claudia’s mother Liza said Claudia was diagnosed after she passed out at a netball carnival and after she had noticed that she had needed to go to the toilet very frequently.
“I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea it was this. She was put in hospital for 10 days and taught how to use needles. I had not noticed how much weight she was losing. She had been complaining about having sore legs, but I put everything down to growing pains,” Mrs Mcguinness said.
“This is a confusing and ongoing disease that has no consistency and is very hard to understand. I was completely unaware of what was going on. It’s no surprise that many people go into depression. Claudia is getting help for it. She has so much anger toward the condition,” Ms Mcguinness said.
Pharmacies such as Amcal offer diabetes risk assessment and management services.