I am certain that almost all the people who read this blog are in some way affected by diabetes. (Because, really, if you are not, why would you be reading?) It makes sense that the people who want to hear about my real life with diabetes have their own real lives with diabetes.

Most of the blogs I read are to do with diabetes. Most of my interactions online are to do with diabetes (with the occasional detour down avenues of language, Nutella recipes, Effin’ Birds, and idolising Nigella).

It makes sense and there is nothing inherently wrong with focusing on things that we understand, or that is interesting to us personally. Of course we feel a connection when reading stories by others going through similar experiences, and that makes us feel safe and less alone.

This week, however, I am hoping that a lot of what we are talking about is received by people outside the diabetes world. Because #ItsAboutTime that others know and understand the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.

It’s National Diabetes Week (#NDW2018) and Diabetes Australia’s campaign this year is building on the 2017 campaign of raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes, and the fact that there are 500,000 Australians with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.  (Disclosure: I work for Diabetes Australia. I am writing about this because it is an important issue, not because I have been asked to.)

These days, my loved ones and I know all about the symptoms of diabetes. And somehow, I knew them just over 20 years ago when I walked into my GPs office and said ‘I’m thirsty all the time, I can’t stop peeing, I’ve lost weight and I’m exhausted. I think I have type 1 diabetes.’

My GP told me that she thought I was being a hypochondriac, so I’m actually not sure if she would have sent me off to pathology for a fasting glucose check as quickly as she did had I not prompted her with my (as it turns out correct) self-diagnosis. (In hindsight, getting me to pee on a stick would have been an even better idea, but I didn’t know that at the time…)

The rest of the story is that a few days later, I was told I had type 1 diabetes. That’s my whole story. It’s utterly, completely, totally uneventful and, quite frankly, I love that it is.

But that’s not the way it is for a lot of people. In fact, each year 640 Australians end up in hospital because the signs of type 1 diabetes have been missed. In many cases, these people have already been to see their GP one, two or more times because they , or their families, have known that there was something not quite right, and they were not checked for type 1 diabetes.

Is that your story?

Here’s the thing: if you have diabetes, or someone you are close to has been diagnosed type 1 diabetes, you know the signs. You may not have known them beforehand – in fact, you may have your own diagnosis story that mirrors those that we are sharing throughout NDW – but you know them now. You are not the target audience for this campaign.

The target audience is people in the community without a connection to diabetes. It’s GPs who are not routinely asking people to pee on a stick so they can quickly and easily check if a person has glucose in their urine.

We need to tell those people. Because we can talk all about this amongst each other all we want, but then all we are doing is adding to the noise in the echo chamber. We need to step outside of the diabetes world and shout from the rooftops 4Ts of type 1 diabetes:

These symptoms need to trigger people – everyone – to automatically think type 1 diabetes.

Share the poster. And ask everyone you know to share it too – including people not affected by diabetes. #ItsAboutTime we ALL knew the 4Ts so that we can diagnose and treat type 1 diabetes sooner.

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