LIVING BRAVELY: Women share tale of life with diabetes
POONA'S Nicola Alletag and Maryborough's Naomi Richardson know first-hand the heavy burden of living with type-1 diabetes.
Both women were presented with honorary Kellion Victory medals, marking their 50th year living with the condition, at a morning tea celebrating National Diabetes Week.
The medals, presented by Kellion Diabetes Foundation founder Dr Alan Stocks AM, recognise the strength of those who have lived with type-1 or type-2 diabetes for 50 years or more.
It was a special moment for Ms Alletag, who was diagnosed with diabetes just after starting high school.
During the 1960s, everything was harder for people diagnosed with the condition, she said.
"We had to boil and sterilise our syringes and needles and blood glucose testing was done using urine, test tubes and eyedroppers,” Ms Alletag said.
"It was a lot for a 13-year-old girl to take in, but I learned everything I could and taught myself how to manage it.”
Being involved in a near-fatal car accident and having both hips replaced made it even more difficult.
"Learning how to manage my diabetes from such a young age made me resilient,” she said.
"I think that's one of the big things that has helped me survive all the ups and downs life has thrown at me.”
About 7900 people in the Fraser Coast live with with diabetes.
Of those, 750 have type-1 diabetes.
A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveals there have been 2247 preventable hospitalisations for diabetic complications in the Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network, which includes the Fraser Coast region.
Type-1 diabetes is distinguished from type-2 because it cannot be predicted or slowed through treatment and requires insulin injections.
Ms Richardson understands the complications of the condition after being diagnosed with necrobiosis lipoidica, a skin condition associated with diabetes.
Even still, she has never let the condition stop her from working as a registered nurse, midwife, music teacher and disability support worker.
"I was an underweight teenager when I was diagnosed, I'd been losing weight for five years or so and had little energy,” she said.
"I also had mysterious blemishes on my shins, which were spreading slowly.
"I made it fit in with my way of life.”