ELKE EDERER, AGED 32, CAME TO TERMS WITH DIABETES AS A TEENAGER – NOW SHE HELPS OTHERS DO THE SAME
I was 13 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I was very thirsty, always tired and found it difficult to concentrate. My parents took me to our family doctor and he performed a blood glucose test which showed a very high result.
Initially, diabetes was completely new to me. I simply didn’t want to be ill and preferred to forget about the diagnosis. Gradually I began to take notice of what I was eating because a balanced diet and diabetes are inter-related.
I need insulin several times a day. I had to administer the insulin injections myself at 13; it was a huge undertaking. I carried two insulin pens at all times: I would administer the long-acting insulin morning and evening, and the rapid-acting insulin into my stomach or thigh at each meal.
Last year I received my insulin pump. The pump is very helpful in maintaining a regular daily routine. It simply provides insulin independently and releases it automatically.
The pump consists of a pod that contains the insulin, and, together with a small control unit, it delivers the insulin directly onto the skin. The pod is connected by radio and thereby regulates insulin delivery without a disruptive tubing system.
I stick the pod to my body, like a plaster. I mostly prefer to place it on the abdominal area, the upper arm or the thigh. A plastic cannula pierces the skin and delivers insulin at certain intervals throughout the day. This also provides for fewer blood glucose fluctuations.
Beforehand a doctor sets the correct amount of insulin for each patient individually. When you want to eat, you just need to adjust the setting on the control panel and additional insulin is delivered.
I’ve managed to incorporate it into my working routine well although I realise that my job may be demanding. As I can accurately set the daily administration of insulin. As it works fine now, I can face my working day without any problems.
In recent years the pump has become increasingly easy to use. In my opinion it has improved greatly and has vastly improved my day-to-day experience.
I’ve met many diabetics who were ashamed of their illness, and who hadn’t wanted to talk about it. That is why I set up a website called Simply Sugar to help others think about how they dealt with their diagnosis.
I also signed up to an awareness campaign run by BVMED, the German medical devices association, to empower patients to be ‘body proud’.
I’ve managed to accept the illness as a part of who I am. That’s me; diabetes and the insulin pump are part and parcel of me!