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Shannon is a T1D from Australia who is passionate about contributing to diabetes awareness. He knows as well as anyone in the community that diabetes is a 24 hour/7 days a week/365 days a year role. Because of this, Shannon knows the importance of having access to the right support products/services for not just your diagnosis but also for you and your everyday lifestyle, which is why he's partnered with Glucology to share more stories and connect people to the right resources/
Today, we asked him 8 questions to facilitate in him sharing an Australian perspective on how diabetes is supported/not supported, and how access differs for many different groups. Shannon also uses the opportunity to outline how the mental & physical support has changed over time for him and for others around him.
1. What do you think is one of the biggest obstacles that people living with diabetes face in your current country of residence?
Up until July this year the most challenging thing for Diabetics living in Australia was access to affordable Continuous Glucose Monitoring. Since the Federal Election and subsequent to both parties agreeing to funding the subsidisation, the successful party now has had that part of law to allow subsidisation for around $38 per month rather than $300 odd.
We are lucky in Australia to now have access to subsidised CGM, pump stock and insulin. In other countries, like the United States I see the challenge of fellow T1D having to make the choice of being able to buy insulin, or pay daily bills required etc. This is something lucky for us here - we get to pay $40 for 3 months of insulin rather than around $480, quite a saving. This may sound a little left field but I think the CGM companies like Dexcom etc need to stay up to date with new phone models and technologies. Having recently getting a Samsung S22, I find that it may be months or years until a version of the Dexcom App will be suitable to run on my mobile. Having this great technology may be good but if one part of the chain, is not staying up to new developments which they know people will purchase, then they are promising on something they cannot deliver.
2. Do you think it's important to address the cultural differences and how it plays a role in someone's diabetes management and access?
I think it is very important for addressing cultural difference when it comes to Diabetes management. Some cultural groups unlike others may not have the same opportunities as others due to societal and financial reasons. Here is Australia, I count myself lucky to be an Anglo Saxon, white male, but I know to be able to access the same services like a first nations individual here in Australia would not be the same. This can be due to geographical locations in which they reside and access to appropriate health care services.
3. For you personally, what has been the most difficult part of your diabetes journey so far?
I have actually had T1D 36 years today (6/9/1986) and it has been a long journey indeed with many ups and downs. I know I am blessed compared to others on what I have access too. I think the most difficult thing no matter how well you are loved and cared for by family, is actually them understanding what you go through when you have a high or low. Understandably they have a perspective on that too, but the factor of going through these times are hard and sometimes, you do not know what you do not know.
4. Why are you passionate about sharing your diabetes journey and playing a part in advocating for awareness?
Being a T1D for 36 years I did not have much access to the services many people being diagnosed have now. Not just the physical but mental health side of things as well. I love seeing many organisations helping young people to transition to this long, life long, condition in a compassionate and supportive way for the children, their parents, family and friends. I think a journey undertaken has a lot for younger ones to discover - the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. Better to know the truth than for a contrived scenario from people who have not lived with the condition. I have heard people say you are a Doctor of Diabetes as I have lived with various issues for 3.6 decades which is long in anyone's books.
... part 2 coming up!
Living with diabetes looks very different for everyone, despite the shared struggles of having a diagnosis that requires your attention continuously throughout the day, everyday! Sometimes, we may all live in our own bubbles and may not realise or take into consideration other perspectives that would very much help us with our own journeys too!
As part of our new community collaborative project, we thought it could be refreshing to start discussions around global issues and how it may affect diabetes management and access.