Talking About Diabetes



Talking about diabetes? One thing is for sure in my personal life, every day, one way or another, I am always bloody talking about diabetes. The difference is, it seldom is in a bad tone – so maybe minus that ‘bloody’ part… The reason I am so open and comfortable to talk about diabetes today is because I found the way initially to accept it into my life, and then it grew from what was once a negative burden which I wanted nothing to do with as a child, into what is now my life’s passion and work. There was at some point a transition stage in my life about living with this condition, and the core purpose of #TADtalk2017 (from what I gathered) was to influence that positive transition stage onto the attending community on the day.

This doesn’t just happen. Everybody is different. And in the audience there was a range of people with different diabetes angles – all on the same team may I add – from the many parents at the event, who would understandably endure fear for their child’s health; the children themselves, who have to find their own path with this condition in life; the experienced pwd, many of whom are active members of the online diabetes community, openly sharing their condition and could have done the job of speaking on stage too; the leading diabetes organisations, perhaps not living with diabetes themselves but certainly talking about how to improve care for it every day at work; and last but not least the medical professionals themselves, none more so valued than the very organisers of the event in Partha Kar & Catherine Peters, who openly expressed how they can in fact learn more from the patients and engage in more practical and relatable ways to make a difference – this event being a shining example.

A friend of mine from across the pond who has had type 1 diabetes more or less since the days of Banting himself, Mr Paul Madden, once said to a group of Young Leaders in 2013: “in life with diabetes we make over 300 decisions each day, so our minds are much more sophisticated.” And with all of that on our minds (quite literally) there is plenty to talk about.

The event was hosted by Sky News presenter Stephen Dixon and I felt that was a great way to operate the event, having a guy that personally lives with type 1 diabetes and delivers the news on our televisions, it doesn’t get any more professional than that! Without going into detail, Steve and I had our disagreements a few years ago and this was the first opportunity we’d had face to face since, and what I can say is from the opening statement he made, full credit to the guy, we agreed straight away: ‘I like type 1 diabetes being in my life,’ he told the audience. That summed up what the day was about – getting to the place where you can feel that way in life; the panel of speakers and Steve as the host all had managed to find it in different ways and therefore were up there to pass on their stories and that empowering factor. The tone continued from that moment, as Jen Grieves, the first patient speaker with full pressure on her, ensured it kept flowing. She effectively set me up as herself and Steve had already given the audience a positive vibe, Jen providing a key message that we ‘can control how we live our lives.’


For my talk, well I like to entertain. There was a plan to it – and that was because I knew the children with type 1 diabetes would be in attendance before the TADpoles sessions – and the plan was to involve the audience and give them the crazy idea that they can make as big a difference as I can, or any of the panel members speaking. The power is in their hands and it begins by being responsible for your own health – that doesn’t mean you get 6.0mmol/l every day without fail – but when the hypos and hypers happen, you react, be aware of them and make the necessary corrections. Opening up, as the attendees at #TADtalk2017 were clearly prepared to do, is the next step to becoming a role model for many others. I wanted to send the message that the power is in their hands to use their experiences to not only improve their own lives, but potentially many, many others living with this around the world.

Humour has always been a feature of mine when speaking, I just feel much more comfortable if we are sharing laughs rather than sharing tears. Be optimistic, not pessimistic – that’s always been my way. The nervy part for many is always when you first walk up on stage to speak, being the centre of attention in front of an on-watching audience who expect something good – otherwise what are you doing there – but I guess my nerves left me probably at some point out running, maybe during the 30 / 30 challenge across Britain when I accidently turned onto a motorway… but the key reason for being able to go on stage and talk and feel so confident and comfortable in doing so is because that is where I am at with my own diabetes, and the people who attended all relate, we are all one community. Though I felt slightly nervous speaking in front of a few thousand medical professionals at ISPAD last year!

A part of me was gutted I was then not around to watch the remainder of the sessions, with Roddy being sat just behind me having recently completed running the 350 mile 6633 Arctic Ultra challenge and finishing 2nd! One of the panellists I was so glad to see be there, to have had the opportunity; in a sense it is what I wanted the message from my talk to be all about, Adrian. Imagine being in Adrian’s shoes where you had the likes of Mel there, an international athlete, Roddy talking about running in the Sahara and then in -30 odd conditions… and myself perhaps too, talking of running about like Forrest Gump. Yet I think there is a fair argument to say he was the most important speaker there to an extent; a prime example that it is not all about being ‘superhuman’ – it’s about opening up, finding yourself with diabetes and in doing so, reaching and connecting with others around you. And that latter part was really the key part of the day, in the breaks and at the bar afterwards everybody was able and willing to socialise and enjoy each other’s company.

The reason I wasn’t watching the remainder of the sessions was because I was supporting the children in attendance with the ‘TADpole sessions.’ So whilst I was gutted not to see the other talks, there was an important duty to serve for the day – at many events I have seen children with diabetes come along and then be taken out of the room to do something which has nothing to do with diabetes, and the parents usually come to me and say “I wish my child heard that.” Of course, young children cannot stay inside a lecture room all day, they would get bored regardless how good the panel of speakers are; so to take them away it was essential they also received diabetes education and more so encouragement from being there on the day. The organisers of the event got this spot on. I thought it would be good to get them moving about, instead of being cooped up inside all day – I guess this was to my own benefit too as I’m still a big kid deep down – so we went out the front to do a ‘sports clinic’ themed routine, squatting low on the shout of “hypo” and jumping high on the call of “hyper!” and then in the afternoon session, joined by Thomas from Team NovoNordisk, we had some story sharing, questions and answers.


It was a fully enjoyable day all round and I’m a strong believer that we have a good system in the NHS which ultimately keeps those of us with type 1 diabetes alive; I have been to many countries who are not so fortunate. So instead of complaining about the NHS, how about we use our voices and experiences to improve it? What is clear is that there are some key professionals, such as Partha, Catherine, Peter, Francesca…. Who are willing to listen to us and willing to work with us. There is a natural gap between the patients and the professionals, but perhaps together we can bridge it for the best interest of our cause and future generations.


P.S – sorry Kev.

torquay hills


Posted in diabetes, Diabetes UK, Diathlete, Healthcare, JDRF UK, Type 1 Diabetes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trail-Race in Diabetes’ Face!

Over the weekend I was in Transylvania, the home of Dracula, contrasting weather conditions, warm-welcoming people, beautiful women and most importantly the type 1 diabetes association called ASCOTID!

imageAscotid were hosting a conference in marking their 10th anniversary of being active, called the Diabforum, which went on for 2 days: Friday 9th & Saturday 10th September – and I had the pleasure of being there to attend and speak too. On the Sunday Ascotid hosted the 2nd ever ASCOTID TRAIL RACE event, a half marathon (or 8km cross country) in the hilly woodlands outside Târgu Mures.

Continue reading

Posted in Basal and Bolus insulin, Challenges, diabetes, Diabetes Management, Diathlete | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Olympic Levels

We just had the Olympic Games in Rio and very soon the Paralympics are to follow! We see athletes who have trained for 4 years solid get the opportunity on the world scene to give everything they’ve got – and it is by far the most motivating sporting event the world has. It puts to shame any corrupt and disappointing FIFA football competition, no question!

With that serge of motivation around the world, hopefully, children and the next generation are now going out and embracing the Olympic spirit by trying some of those sports out for themselves, with dreams of one day representing their countries and competing for the medals. The question is from a type 1 diabetes perspective, what might happen to blood glucose levels in the different types of sports we witnessed on display?!

A DiAthlete has to know about what might take place with their blood glucose control during certain activities, in order to prepare and get the best results.

The basic start is really getting out there, an element of ‘trial and error’ and seeing the results for yourself. Living and learning is something we have to do every day with diabetes, the latter part the most essential if ever something does not go to plan.


So let’s review a few different forms of Olympic running events and consider what might be the most likely outcome – albeit always remember every person has a different body and different insulin regime, so there will always be different results – this is just a basic guideline in the rather unpredictable life with diabetes!

To start, let’s begin with Team GB’s Mo Farah who competed and won Gold in both the men’s 10,000m and 5,000m races. What if Mo had type 1 diabetes?

As someone who has raced these distances before, not remotely to Olympic standard (and my comfort zone is in endurance road running: marathons and ultra distance), I know there are two contrasting blood glucose possibilities in this distance of running. If it were fitness training and covering the distance of 5km or 10kms, the most likely outcome would be decreasing blood glucose levels during the run itself, when running in an endurance style – continuously moving at the same rate of pace – however as a race, especially on the Olympic stage, it is far more likely to be the opposite effect, with blood sugar levels actually spiking upwards during the run. This is a result of a changing pace, higher speed and a rush of adrenaline.

This is more common with the 5000m. In this particular race at Rio we saw the Ethiopian runners set the pace early on in the final at quite a fast tempo, leading from the front. Their tactic was to try and burn out Britain’s Mo Farah to reduce his sprint at the finish. This meant the first lap was a standard 5km professional pace, followed by an above-average faster pace which continued throughout the 400m track laps.

In diabetes terms, this change of pace and shire tension in the race would have most likely caused a ‘T1D-Mo’s liver to have reacted by releasing stored glucose into the bloodstream, therefore spiking up the blood glucose levels during the race.

The longer the race went on the more the pace increased, with the final lap being the fastest for the sprint finishes. And we are talking about a crazy, elite sub-13-minute 5km!

Once the race ends that is not it for someone with type 1 diabetes! All of that energy has been burned and that means that the glucose in the bloodstream, even the additional amounts released by the liver during activity, would have been burned up too, just in a slower process. This means in the hours to follow the race, despite that increase in blood sugars which could have meant afterwards T1 Mo’s levels might have been quite high, his blood glucose levels would come dropping downwards. A risk even of an evening hypo occurring.

In the 10,000m race the final in Rio was taken on in a much slower style – albeit with a ridiculously fast time overall set by Farah in just 27 minutes – and this would mean in type-1-talk that blood glucose levels might not spike as high as they would in the more rapid paced 5km. Mo stayed at the back for the first quarter of the 10km final, so our Type 1 Mo would have been keeping quite a consistent tempo going around in the early laps, saving his energy. This would mean in terms of blood glucose, levels would have been possibly decreasing during the run at the start – although do consider that in the atmosphere with thousands of onlooking fans in the stadium and the eyes of the world watching on TV, there’d be a lot for adrenaline pumping through the veins which could also increase levels too – however the pace, similar to the 5km, did increase the further the race went. We saw Mo gain momentum and push up to the front of the pack where he then grew faster and faster to lead the pack. So, again, a T1 Mo would have likely rised up in his blood glucose levels during activity with the liver reacting and releasing glucose into the bloodstream.

Post 10km it would be unlikely for the levels to have spiked as high as in the 5km may have done, as the 5km was more fierce and faster paced. However the post activity drop would be more survire hours later – 10km is longer distance and more energy consuming than a 5km, so an early hypo could happen and also the possibility of a repeat night time hypo is possible in the post-exercise ‘Crash’ of blood glucose.

My way of preventing these drops, especially when as a teen in being very active at a half-decent level of football, was to have a solid high carb dinner with less units of Bolus (quick acting) insulin than the carb calculations required. Maybe even a unit less basal (background insulin) in the evening, on the split routine of morning/night-time injections which I personally am on.

In the men’s 100 and 200m sprints we saw Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, take Gold in both finals. Now there is a big difference between endurance running and sprinting! I have already mentioned the ‘adrenaline-effect’ blood glucose spikes that can happen; for 100m sprinting, a T1-Bolt would definitely have this take place, his liver releasing glucose into the bloodstream. You go from being still and raring to go, pumped with adrenaline, to sprinting for 10 seconds flat-out.

So this means an increase in levels is imminent; however, not dramatic. It is more likely you will see higher levels post exercise in the 5km/10km races or after a game of football (for example), than post exercise in sprinting. This is because the sprint only lasts a matter of seconds – so you haven’t burned as much energy overall.

It also means it is unlikely your levels will suffer the post exercise crash, as you would in those other more enduring sports.

imageMy type of running is slightly mad, ultra endurance. This is on-going, not competing against opponents as such, but against yourself – how much can you take?! Therefore you don’t dash off, you don’t look to change your pace so much, you try and reserve energy until the end. This means you keep things steady, slowly but surely getting the job done. This form of exercise will decrease the levels during activity and means you need to be aware of what your levels are doing during the run to prevent hypos from happening. Tweaking and lowering basal insulin is an essential tactic and a intake of carbohydrates through gels or drinks also a key method to keep levels stable.

At Rio is was Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong who took Gold in the women’s marathon race. So a T1-Sumgong would have had to have been aware of her blood sugars throughout, lowered her basal insulin maybe even to around 75-80% and topped up with glucose in her drink stations.

Everyone is different so different levels can happen, depending mainly around types of insulin and diet. The key with exercise and type 1 diabetes is not to focus on the sport itself to determine what might happen in your blood glucose control, but to consider your personal physical movements, your running style and performance during the activities.

imageUnderstanding and testing blood sugars is the crucial part to truly know what is going on and to even learn more. Remember: it is not what the level actually is that counts, it is what the level itself is actually doing, from spiking upwards to crashing downwards; that’s what you need to be aware of in order to make the best decisions. Live, learn and never let diabetes stop you!

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Hot Chocolate

I’m well overdue a post, given that in the last number of months with DiAthlete I’ve operated a successful Eastern European tour – which got approx 700 people out running with me whilst reaching type 1 diabetes communities in Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia and Zagreb – I enjoyed the hospitality of my friends in Costa Rica whilst putting on a run event in San Jose, which also had a great turn out and media coverage on TV for the Dia Vida diabetes association; I had the pleasure of speaking at the FFL Children With Diabetes Conference in Orlando, and just the other day I returned home from my latest adventure in Iceland on the Sanofi and Sweet e.V supported World Diabetes Tour ‘T1D Hekla Challenge,’ where I played a Young Leader role in mentoring a group of adolescents living with type 1 diabetes, from many locations worldwide, in hiking over 100km around the tough but amazing volcanic landscapes!

Well overdue a post but quite frankly I haven’t had the bloody time! Given that tomorrow I set off for Pembrokeshire in Wales, this will just be brief too! But I promise to be more active here soon on these recent adventures…

I wish to share with you some lessons I’ve learned of late, which in regards towards life with a daily health condition (something that is so crucial in making the efforts to manage) I feel are very relevant in finding that right, motivated attitude.


I’ll begin with one of the things I get up to on my side job as a London Tour Guide. Every work day I brush shoulders in the West End with the richest of the rich, in fact I passed right by business tycoon Alan Sugar just yesterday (the day after I had returned from Iceland and straight back into work!) who had a wonderfully, grumpy look on his face! And whilst these business leaders each dress in the finest suits and ties and return home probably to a rather luxurious Georgian mansion, I brush their shoulders dressed in a ridiculous looking Gryffindor-esque guide’s outfit, not remotely acknowledged when at work. It is indeed a strange paradox to go from one moment being this adventurous action figure, out in an interesting place of the world, to returning to reality as a local peasant. However, I enjoy what I do. I know I need to save money to get to where I need to be, more so for the cause I stand for, so I am always prepared to put in the hours I can. And I do this whilst giving tours that consist of joke after joke after joke. An element of British pride about my City, which is mine, and a great deal of knowledge of its history – if not I have great blagging abilities. One thing is for sure from my experiences of doing this job, and I am pleased to say has been recognised by professional friends I admire in my cause such as Scott Johnson and Douglas Cairns, the job of speaking for hours and hours each day has seemingly propelled my ability as a public speaker to the highest level. In general people tend to have great struggles in understanding my day-to-day talk; I am a proud, slang Saffff-London-boy! But in the professional world, on an international stage, there comes a duty to get my voice understood because the message it contains from the global experiences I have taken on are crucial. And I nail it when it matters!

The reason I bring my side job up is because of one of the positive things I started doing after work, which has given me a great lesson on the unknown meaning of life to an extent. After work on my way home to the train station, either London Victoria or Charing Cross, if I have been lucky enough to have received any tips I’ll use it to purchase a hot chocolate with cream at the end of the day. Now, I know, you might be thinking hang on you’re meant to be a fit, crazy endurance runner, sort it out! You also have type 1 diabetes and need to look after yourself and not just pick at things unnecessarily. If you just thought that you are right, but you are also a bit too serious in life so this is a problem, you sort it out… Indeed I do feel at this moment I need to put more work in to regain that level of fitness I’ve previously achieved and as a result keep the blood glucose control going as strong as I can. However, in this Hot Chocolate instance, I am not the one consuming the ingredients. Perhaps this makes me now sound even worse, or more so stupid. Stupid is what stupid does. The Hot Chocolate goes to a homeless person on the way home, usually not the person begging too eagerly and in some cases demandingly either, unless they have a bit of charisma about them. I opt for those in quieter areas, such as at the back of Charing Cross near the Embankment but off of the main street. Earlier it was this lady and her eyes lit up when I told her I didn’t have change but had a hot choccy with cream instead.

What I learned from the homeless, who are generally homeless and did not take to the streets out of choice (as some sadly do in Green Park), is the same thing I see sometimes in people with type 1 diabetes, they can lack a bit of direction. What we all need is some form of leadership and encouragement, an act of kindness or a gesture of positivity. That is it. It is like a Premier League Striker in football, they can lose form just like that – no matter the ridiculous price-tag to their name – the way to find form again is to score a goal, to start believing in yourself and it comes. I know this from personal experience too, as someone who has been through some tough physical challenges: what it all comes down to is what you have on the inside. If you can find that balance of having the mental strength – being in the right place in the mind – with the heart to follow your passions and dreams, anything becomes a possibility.

Those on the streets have it incredibly hard and you can in many of them see how their spirits are down. Mentally the key would be to find a way over that and not give up in order to get back on track, full credit to the Big Issue guys who take the first step in doing that. There’s an absolute gentleman on Piccadilly who always wishes me a good day even when I never buy his magazine, but I often have a chat on my way to work. I taught him a knock-knock joke once, “whose there?” “biggish,” “biggish, who?!”

For us living with diabetes I know this is a weird comparison but I feel the slightest thing can make the biggest difference. I can recall those days of being in a dark place with my condition, school was the toughest in terms of accepting the condition, and adolescent years was hardest for control with the irresponsibilities I occasionally had, even despite being an advocate from a young age. Nobody gets it right all the time, even myself. On the Iceland adventure I witnessed something quite amazing though, where I saw this group who were teenaged / very early twenties come together, having never met each other before, to be best friends and a solid team for the week. They come from different cultures and lifestyles, but it simply did not matter, what mattered was they each lived with type 1 diabetes and through it found a positive in each other. Maybe they viewed this experience, which they were of course very fortunate to have had, as a once in a life-time opportunity, and in some ways it was – I highly doubt we will each be hiking in Iceland again any time soon with such an experience – but what I saw was the start of something for them. These guys can grow to become global leaders in this cause for the right reasons in the future, and the sky is not even the limit on how much they can achieve for others living with diabetes. They had a positive experience, a taste for meeting others living with diabetes and furthermore a taste for accomplishment in the cause by completing the challenge.

Personally I’ve been there myself, that 29 mile run in Thanet at the age of 17 was the start of everything for me, putting my life in the path it was meant to be on for this cause – and I had no idea any of the experiences I have had in this world was to follow, the good and the bad (and the bad is always a good too as you have something to learn from). I turn 25 next week. There’s much more to come.

As I tweeted earlier, I believe its essential we encourage and empower the next generations growing up with type 1 diabetes to find their fire. They can make anything happen. That’s what I’ll make sure DiAthlete prioritises! Right, now off to Wales for the next event…

IMG_1979(alright, sometimes I am not the best role model…)

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Bloods and Booze

imageYou’ll never hear me say, “sorry lads, I am not coming out-out tonight, I’ve got diabetes.” Not unless I’ve got a date lined up which I don’t want friends to know about, and am seeking an excuse.

Whilst ‘playing the D-Card’ is something we can get away with from time to time – like when I flew to Vancouver in firstclass despite holding an economy ticket, as I had a sudden ‘hypo’ on entering the aircraft when conveniently stood by spare firstclass seats – the condition of type 1 diabetes itself is something that, with the right understanding and self care, should never stop us from being social and doing the things we enjoy most in life.

When it comes to a night out on the town, however, that ‘self care’ part should be emphasized. It is very difficult to keep on top of your health responsibilities when you are so battered you find yourself attempting to stage dive across a packed dance-floor, skiiing down underground esculators like James Bond (but falling off) or swimming in public fountains on the way home.

Although I’ve calmed and matured a bit in my mid twenties now, I certainly am no stranger to the wild side, and those past experiences as a teen in particular have been real learning curves, both in general and with diabetes.

In Britain we have a big social drinking culture, you are born and then there is beer. This is partly how the British Empire conquered the world, we had a few and decided places like Canada would be interesting. So especially over here adolescents with diabetes have to learn fast.

For me when I was a teen it was difficult. At that time I was learning the diabetes ropes independently as an adult. I was also misinformed about my insulin management – being told to inject a certain amount of insulin for each meal time following a switch from mixed insulin to basal and bolus, not carbohydrate counting for the meal itself.

So I very much had to learn the hard way in managing my diabetes, from sports to socialising and all else in between.

The initial attitude I had, which many young adults may relate to, was to just get on with it – which is great – but the feeling was to just get on with it and almost ignore my health duties. I would always do my insulin, I realised the importance of that (even if overdosing myself without knowing at the time, 14 units of basal novorapid for every dinner meal was my regime!!) but would seldom test my blood sugar levels regularly enough.

My A1C was well up in the 8s – maybe it should have been worse – but I had a lot of hypos due to the mass amounts of insulin I was told to take. So my long and short term health was at risk. Whilst this all sounds bad though, in the bigger picture it was where I learned all I did, in order to be an advocate as I am today – you have to hit the ground sometimes in order to pick yourself up a stronger person.

In terms of night life, today I am very good at knowing what I am drinking and that is key in keeping safe and healthy(ish). Back in those early outgoing years without that understanding of my blood sugars, I would either be flying hyper or crashing hypos – or both – never well managed. This can create a real monster, out of character, we get angry when we are hypo and can also do so when too drunk – the two mixed together is worse than Frankenstein’s creation.

The added risk with that is if you are out-out and you are hypo, people don’t know your situation, that your blood sugars are low, they will just assume you are drunk.

The bottom-line is that you cannot hide from your diabetes, you have it and if you don’t respect that, you only harm yourself. Confidence is a big deal in life in general, a thing like diabetes can affect it too, but in gaining that understanding that you are still you and can live life to the full – if you just take on that responsibility to keep a check of your blood sugars, take the appropriate amounts of insulin your body needs, to look after your diabetes, your diabetes will look after you.

In living proudly with my British culture, I am well aware of the potential affects on my blood sugars. In fact too aware, when I do go out-out in the present day (which isn’t that often anymore) I go to the level of waking up with selfies on my phone of returning home, after a fair few drinks, of myself holding my blood sugar meter with a good reading and smile on my face.

The smile is the main part – I am more than happy living with diabetes, that is where good control stems from and my A1C is 6.0% by the way! The blood sugar level is not so much the main part before bed, as Dr Annan said at an event with me recently, it is not about the level it is about what that level is doing. You don’t want a hypo in your sleep!

Waking up with a level of 5.5mmol/l – as I did last weekend – that’s when you can say I know my stuff!

On nights out I do confess to switching drinks, if I feel it is necessary. I do not recommend mixing drinks, it messes you up man, but on medical grounds when I have noticed the lagers or the ciders have caused my levels to go too hyper, I switch to vodka and diet coke and drop the levels down. Hence the happy ‘I am smarter than you diabetes selfies.’

This usually needs to be accompanied by a snack before sleeping, to stop the crash later on.

Here is a Alcoholbetic guideline from vast drinking experience:

Spirits, especially vodka: will lower your levels fairly quickly, no carbs here!

Ales and Beers: they are carby but very yeasty (if that is a word), they tend to rise levels on the first few pints but hours later are known to decrease levels.

Lagers: can have the same affect as above but contain more sugars, depending on the drink will rise levels a bit more.

Ciders: going to boost levels! Apples, pears, natural sugars and carbs!

Stouts like Guinness: will also rise levels, not quite like cider, a much slower process, but more carbs in stouts than in lagers.

Wines: tend to rise levels a bit more too, white more than red as white is much sweeter in general. Both with a lot of natural sugars.

Alcopops: just avoid altogether, they are sh** drinks (excuse my french) and are filled with added sugars.

Cocktails and Jagerbombs: can have a rise and crash affect, more so with shots like jagerbombs – a lot of added sugar in red bull but also the spirits will decrease levels. Cocktails depends on the drink and level of alcohol included, as you can get many which include added sugar drinks and syrup, which will make you fly.

Verdict: know what you are putting in your body! You can make slight adjustments with insulin or plan what you will drink through the night. Type 1 diabetes cannot stop you enjoying yourself, just remember enjoying yourself is best done with good health.


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Underdog Spirit

You know when you see those houses which have warning signs up because the owner has a dog? Well I do not own a dog, however, I was contemplating putting a beware of the underdog sign up in my doorway.

The truth is personally I am at my best when some a~hole writes me off. Whether that is because I have this common saaanding, saaaff-east London accent, or due to the fact I am a young adult who has little for money and status, either way they are irrelevant to what I can achieve – and this is the same for anybody. We are who we are and whichever our background, we are living today and that means its in our hands to go out and make something of that opportunity called life.

In living with type 1 diabetes I recall early years where others didn’t understand my condition very well. How could they if they did not live with it every day? Sometimes people wanted to see me shake and shiver in the park or school playground as I suffered a hypo, to have a good laugh (kicking my energy drinks over for example). Other events were in not being able to participate in sports day races during early years of secondary school, just in case something ‘went wrong’ with my blood sugars. Whilst these were negative parts of those early days for me, making a boy hate his condition, do you know what those experiences taught me?

To toughen up and stand my own ground. 


I am a firm believer today that the greatest positives long term can be taken from any short term negatives. You live and learn. For those living with diabetes as I do, ‘live and learn’ is never truer – when it comes to controlling your blood sugars, always ask that question, why did it not go to plan today? When I first started out running those crazy distances, which is where the idea of DiAthlete – anything is possible – has evolved from, there weren’t any professionals willing to give me advice on how to keep healthy control during the ultra endurances I faced. People and more so big organisations were scared to get involved. So I had to learn the hard way – and I did – I hit the ground a few times. There are a few scars from extreme hypoglycaemic (low blood glucose) fits, in some respects I am lucky to be alive. One time I clonked out in a bath-tub and came round when under the water, unable to move or control my own body as everything had shut down on me. I managed to salmon my way out the tub in the end!

On another occasion I hit the ground when out on a training run, taking on a half marathon distance as I prepped my body for a 70 mile ultra around the Isle of Wight. I was just a teenager back then – but my life lessons in type 1 diabetes were never more vital at the time. Being taken home in an ambulance van for me was humiliating inside; for my Mother completely unaware of what had happened to see a paramedic usher me home, well, can you imagine?

I went down a lot in those early adolescent years, when my ultra distance running days first started – the main reason being I was put on this bulls*t insulin regime after first being introduced to basal (long acing) and bolus (quick acting) insulin injections. Instead of being taught how to carbohydrate count and be educated in how to monitor my blood glucose levels as an independent adult, I was simply told to inject a certain number of units of insulin at certain times each day, before meals. No remote info on what those meals might have been – be it a pizza or a salad I would inject the same amount of insulin. Now imagine being on such a regime when trying to run 29 miles along the coast of Thanet, or 70 miles around the Isle of Wight!

My greatest lessons were learned during that period of my life, ultimately leading towards taking my own decisions on insulin management, and connecting with others to learn more about carbohydrate counting. Being down on the ground there is one thought: get back up and next time stay up. My A1C is 6% today.

Now I am a type 1 diabetes educator to my own right, I know the condition inside-out through those and many other extreme experiences and adventures – all around the world. Experience is key and whilst this can benefit ourselves living with it on the long run, it can also benefit many others too. Whilst daily struggles continue in terms of paying the bills, finding more work on the side of my commitment to diabetes with DiAthlete, the bottom line is I know I am on the right path. In the last 5 or 6 weeks over 1000 people have been directly reached, in very fun and active styles, passing on advice and going that step further by practically getting young people with diabetes outside, learning for themselves about their body and diabetes. The recent events in Northern Ireland and across Eastern Europe were incredible experiences for me too; it is reassuring to know that a positive impact can be pushed out from this ‘brand.’ When you get people living with diabetes together, wherever they are from, magic happens.


3 years ago to this date and time-period right now I was out on an adventure of a life-time. The 30/30 Challenge, running like a nutter around the UK, from John O’Groats to Lands End covering 30 mile routes every day for 30 days. That was my greatest ever ‘underdog’ moment as in the build up many CEOs, professionals, board members, whatever status they wanted to brand themselves with, said some very frustrating comments to me, basically telling me I could not do it, when I was just asking for some support. And then out of nowhere some big names were voicing their support of me as I persisted with the project; I was just some nobody kid and there was boxer David Haye recording a support message, Sir Geoff Hurst – England’s greatest footballing hero – doing the same, Kirsty Gallacher tweeting away, TVs Jasmine Harman, Ana Ivanovic, Gemma Atkinson – I had to scrub up! It was incredible.

Bristol school

What went under the noses of the ‘people of status’ in this cause back then – and to be honest sadly still does in many areas today – is the fact that it was not about a personal challenge, it was a mission to bring unity and positivity to the people who need it, the people living with diabetes – especially the next generation who are currently asking the world, as I once was, can I still live my dreams?

3 years ago I battled, never gave up and nailed that challenge. I’ve been doing this worldwide ever since to provide the answer they need to hear: YES YOU CAN STILL LIVE YOUR DREAMS. Never forget it and never let anybody tell you otherwise. An underdog? Good, that means you’ve got a bit of bite about you.

This year some incredible events and challenges have been lined up, some are still being worked on such as a Florida Tour in June/July – more on that soon – but I will also be working on fundraising and events to try and make a DiAthlete Africa Tour happen next year. Recently I read an article from Yaa in Ghana, who shared how the project in Ghana last year helped give her the confidence she needed to now go on and become a diabetes educator. That really touched me to know going out there in 2015 made an impact, and I saw how it gave my friend Fred a platform to share his story and reach communities, which goes a long way – even more so when you see the struggles for supplies and health education they have out in Africa. The Africa tour plans to create a series of events across multiple communities in West and South Africa regions, maybe more too! Read more on that or donate towards the project here. 

Watch out world, we have an army of diabetes-battering underdogs and you better start listening!

Ghana Run 3

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Finding your Confidence and Living Life to the Fullest

Jillian Rippolone comes from Long Island, New York and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997 at the age of 9. I caught up with her for a Team DiAthlete chat about her life with t1 diabetes and ‘finding your confidence back’ with it Here is what Jillian shared:


“I have been a diabetic now for almost 20 years! It’s been a long road that’s for sure. When I was younger my parents sent my brother (who is also a type 1 diabetic) and I to a diabetes camp, to be around other kids like ourselves and feel accepted, it was cool! I’m still friends to this day with the girl I went to camp with!

“Growing up when technology wasn’t as advanced, it was a bit challenging. Trying to figure out carbs and take needles all day long, it wasn’t easy on my mother having two diabetic children.

“As a teen diabetes didn’t really affect my social life negatively, however when you’re a teen and have a disease, internally, I felt a lower self esteem; it wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s I felt fully confident.

“I would never advertise or show off I was a diabetic nor tell many people, because I guess I felt it wasn’t necessary. However, at age 28 now, I want the world to know and let others know that I’m a diabetic – to help spread awareness, motivate and inspire others to feel confident and proud to be living with t1d. Nothing should stop us from anything.

“People need a leader, and now I’m that leader. I run a 3k type 1 diabetic Facebook community page ( as well as two Instagram pages, one for diabetic memes (@kissmypancreass) and my personal diabetic/fitness Instagram (@t1dchick). I love posting funny diabetic pics that will make people laugh at jokes we all get! I also love posting about our everyday blood sugars, events, news, activity, questions, suggestions, and people’s photos of how they are living and dealing with diabetes on the Facebook page. It’s really great how we are all coming together and honestly it’s thanks to social media.

“Sometimes people feel alone and aren’t able to fully relate to others because of having diabetes, so having a supportive diabetic community where we can all gather together is really a beautiful thing. I also participate in every Jdrf walk to cure diabetes and also do other events such as the ADA tour de cure to help raise awareness for t1d. I like to stay connected and be around those who I relate with and all gather together in efforts of finding a cure! Faith and hope my friends!

“Let’s talk about my social life! It’s crazy! Although as I got older and more mature it’s settled down, diabetes has never ever stopped me from anything. If you do things in moderation you will be ok. You just can’t abuse anything, like drinking. I don’t smoke, never recreationally tried drugs and I’ll only drink in social settings, and when I say drink maybe have a few at most nowadays! Everyone will go through a party phase. I went through that in college, but as you grow up you realize how unnecessary it is and how it will mess up your blood sugars and make you feel super sick. It’s just not worth it. I think the best thing is having a great group of friends. Friends that don’t pressure you into anything or say anything negative when it comes to drinking and diabetes. All my friends are so supportive and care so much about me and that’s what’s great about my social life I have people that want me to succeed.

“Some struggles that I have faced with diabetes was DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), unfortunately I went into DKA twice in my life. Once was being young and dumb and not caring fully about my diabetes and the other reason was the insulin resistance not getting into my body. It was horrible and I never want that to happen to me ever again. Other than that I have never had any problems with passing out/ diabetic comas thankfully! I think hearing all these horror stories really shaped me into the person I am now because I don’t want to lose my legs my toes or anything else for that matter. I want to live a healthy, long life.

“I made @t1dchick (instagram) to connect with other diabetics and overnight it felt like I had a crazy following! People are so intrigued with my fitness and daily life with my diabetes! Exercise is a huge part of my life now. I won’t sit here and say I’m in perfect shape or have perfect numbers, because that’s just not true. It’s a constant struggle everyday to eat well, control glucose levels among everything else! I can go from 120 to 340 (mg-dl) like anyone! It’s about control. I like to set realistic goals for myself with my blood sugars. It all starts with baby steps, miracles don’t happen overnight; just like how my muscles won’t grow after lifting once in the gym, just how eating one salad won’t make me thin. Get it? There’s nothing wrong with little goals to end up with achieving your ultimate targets. You have to start somewhere. If you need help or support, ask! People are there for you, I’m here for you, just ask! Building confidence is key. You will be happier, live longer, and maintain a healthy life with type 1. Don’t hide anymore, have a voice, be heard, be seen because life is beautiful, you are beautiful. Let’s stand strong and fight diabetes together!”

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Euro Tour preview

This week I will embark upon quite a packed schedule with many travels and not so much rest. I look forward to every moment of it!

The goal of this upcoming DiAthlete European Tour is to directly reach a number of type 1 diabetes communities and operate events to help strengthen the unity in local areas. Whilst supplying direct advice and education on keeping more stable blood glucose control during exercise to these communities, hopefully this will be combined with a bit of motivation too – there are a number of runs lined up!

On top of all of this, in heading out to a lot of Eastern parts of Europe, I personally want to learn more about type 1 diabetes care in these locations and to use the DiAthlete network to share stories from the people I meet on this journey.

Here’s a look at the busy schedule to come:

  • 13th April: arrive in Budapest, Hungary, and play an 11-a-side football match in the evening for an all type 1 diabetes team with my friend and fellow Young Leader in Diabetes, Dr Daniel Vegh.
  • 14th April: travel for 9 hours to Belgrade, Serbia, to catch Alumni Young Leaders in Diabetes, Tijana Milanovic and Aleksandar Opacic, along with fellow mHealth Grand Tour 2015 cyclist, Uros Bogdanovic, and a host of diabetes community members from Belgrade for a group river run. It looks like we could have as many as 40 people joining us!
  • 15th April: travel from Belgrade to Sofia, Bulgaria, by coach – it could take some time!
  • 16th April: Sofia’s 5km run Bulgaria event – where I will be racing in the 5km in the morning, before speaking to the local diabetes community with my friend and fellow Young Leader from Bulgaria, Rossitza Handjiyska, at a Bulgarian Diabetes Association event.
  • 17th April: flight to Bologna, Italy, where I will catch up with another Alumni Young Leader in Diabetes, Luca Cappellini, who was my roommate in Melbourne at the 2013 IDF World Diabetes Congress.
  • 18th April: a train from Bologna to Venice, lunch, followed by a bus from Venice to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I have a few friends I used to work with in Ljubljana and may check in at their local diabetes centre – who I met with in 2014.
  • 19th April: a bus from Ljubljana to Zagreb, Croatia, for the final event of the Europe Tour, a community run and a type 1 dinner to follow. Joining me to run will be Vedran Krcadinac, who shared info on the event here – and I will catch up with Young Leaders in Diabetes David Klapan, Maja Vukovic, Danijela Susilovic, Ivana Cukrena and Team Novo Nordisk’s Nenad Simnuko – who was my roommate during the mHealth Grand Tour from Brussels to Geneva last year. (I should add that both Luca and Nenad are very brave men to have experienced being my roommate, I do tend to destroy most hotels so they deserve an award…)


Belgrade Community Running Route for 14th April.

To have so many friends from so many different locations is incredible – and this has all came about in my life because I live with type 1 diabetes and have adopted a positive attitude towards living with it. Extremely excited to be catching up with everybody!

I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and interest from the communities to have me over in these locations and full credit to the names mentioned above, to get the word out there and make things happen. To be honest with dates such as World Diabetes Day and recently World Health Day, a lot of effort is made for awareness, but personally I feel the most valued thing that we can do as advocates ahead of tweets, hashtags and selfies, is to actually get out there on the ground, meet people, speak, socialise and make things happen. All this money that gets spent on aspects such as board meetings and professional conferences, the first class flights and fancy hotels, I want to put that to shame – what comes of most of those meetings? Sometimes they seem to be too far concentrated on personal status they forget the true meaning. Here, I feel that by going out there and taking the time and making the effort to reach communities, a lot more will come of it.

Travel is an area that understandably has question marks for many people and families living with diabetes. I have to take my diabetes essentials with me and be fully responsible for my healthcare. We are responsible for our health every day with diabetes and in this case, when travelling so much, I will have to be that extra bit more so careful and responsible to remember everything and to keep a close check on my levels. With such a schedule, it is going to be tiring, one place after another, and this could affect my blood glucose control throughout the week; so I will keep plenty of gels and supplies on hand!

In terms of the running I would love to be able to say I am going to go there and win the main 5km race in Bulgaria. However this will probably not be the case. For one I much prefer long distance – I am an ultra runner! 5km racing is much different for me, it is a different style -almost full on throughout for 3 miles. As a marathoner I like to reserve my energy and keep the tank full until the end, and then unleash whatever I have left. It is almost a completely different sport with these little whippets! My goal is to do my best for the great support that I have in Sofia and to try and beat the 20 minute mark. I beat it when in Vancouver in my last 5km back in early December, I ran a 19 min 53 race and could have done better as I stopped to tie my laces! That meant a 14th place finish out of something like 500 people, so it was positive! But at the same time I have not trained for 5km and have been coming back after shin-splints to start the year, so lets see how it goes!

Whenever I run, whether it is 5km or 500 miles, my first and foremost aim is to reach the finish line – and to do it with the best control of my blood glucose I can possibly achieve.


Also back on British soil there are a few events coming soon:

And if you are interested in buying a DiAthlete performance top, we have new stock in with both children and adult sizes, they come in blue and pink and the funds from the tops support the events we are working on supplying directly for international type 1 communities! Thank you 🙂

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Tax for Tat

The DiAthlete’s view on the Chancellor’s Sugar Tax

Chancellor George Osborne has announced in his 2016 budget that there is to be a new UK levy on soft drinks – a sugar-tax imposed in a bid to tackle childhood obesity and the prevalence of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The big question from here is:

Will it actually work?


Coming from the perspective of someone living with type 1 diabetes, a form of diabetes which isn’t too often highlighted in the media with no relation to poor health or lifestyle choices – type 1 occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks and kills insulin producing beta cells – there is a view against this new sugar-tax given the fact people with type 1 often rely on sugary drinks to help pick their blood glucose levels up when hypoglycemic. A bad diabetic ‘hypo’ can lead to a diabetic coma at the worst stage. Therefore families dealing with type 1 diabetes could well look at this move and question whether they will be paying additional taxes to treat low blood sugars in future.

Whilst a sugared drink is a strong choice for many living with type 1 diabetes to quickly pick their levels up safely, there are a number of alternative options. Energy gels can be supplied for medical exemption certificate holders on the NHS, whilst it was mentioned that pure juice drinks, such as orange juice, wouldn’t be taxed and can do the job with the carbohydrates and natural sugars they possess.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is a global pandemic – at the 2015 World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver the International Diabetes Federation revealed there’re currently over 415 million adults living with diabetes in the world, up from 387 million in 2013 and estimated to rise over 600 million within 20 years. The most alarming fact is that 90% of this figure is linked to type 2 diabetes.

On his 2016 budget speech the Chancellor told MPs “you cannot have a long-term plan for this country unless you have a long-term plan for our children’s health care.”

Indeed this is a statement you cannot disagree with; however, it all comes down to whether that plan is the right one or not. TV chef Jamie Oliver certainly believes so. He has been an active sugar-tax campaigner for a number of years and had already introduced the tax into his own restaurant chains. On Instagram Jamie celebrated the news as a ‘profound move that will ripple around the world.’


I caught up with a few connections in Copenhagen, Denmark recently, who spoke about the Danish ‘fat-tax’ which took place between 2011 and 2012 before being abolished. In a similar bid to support the country’s health care, the Danes introduced a tax on any food with over 2.3% saturated fats; however, what occurred was a rise in the cost of living and a negative effect on local businesses. The Danish people would hop over the borders to Germany or Sweden and buy their food products from there instead. Whilst prices of deemed unhealthier foods went upwards, the costs of healthy foods stayed up. The Danish fat-tax seemingly failed to decrease levels of obesity, although it was only active for one year.

Despite this not working in Denmark, there is a difference in the fact that the tax which Osborne has put forward is not on fatty foods, it’s on soda drinks. This method has been quoted successful in the world, where it began in Mexico in 2014. Mexico was a country with one of the highest levels of obesity and they introduced a 10 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, cutting soda drink sales by a major 12 per cent. Whilst the sales-cuts in these sugary drinks seem positive, there is narrow evidence for the time being on whether this has reduced the growth of obesity in Mexico – only time will tell!

A difference between Mexico and the UK is our economies. There is a lot more poverty in Mexico and therefore one would imagine a sugar-tax would be more effective over there, where people generally have less money.

One of the key features in the London skyline is of course the London Eye – or should I say Coca Cola London Eye? Perhaps it is a small contradiction that when the Chancellor was writing his 2016 budget in Westminster, facing him across the river was a giant wheel, which lights up red at night to promote a heavily-sugared soda brand.


The Chancellor further announced that funds from the UK levy on the soft drinks industry would be invested into school sports, expected to raise £520 million in its first year. If this is the case it’s a real positive. If we want to look after our children’s health and long term future, get them active! It could be argued this would actually be more of a benefit in decreasing obesity in young people than taxing sugary drinks! We need to encourage our youth into sports, let’s face it when you look at sports such as football where we haven’t won a trophy since 1966, a lot needs to be done! I spoke at a school recently and when I questioned the class about their favourite sports many referred to their X-Box games…

On a personal view my feeling is that whilst a sugar-tax on soda drinks is a solution and a brave move by Mr Osborne to impose, the real way to tackle the issue of growing diseases related to poor health, such as type 2 diabetes through obesity, is in education. Taxes are one thing but the advertising of poor health brands will still exist. The only way people can learn about what the best lifestyle choices are for them is to be taught, from young ages, about the long term effects poor dieting and lack of exercise can have. Ultimately time will tell on theimpact of this sugar-tax – these taxes won’t come into play for another 2 years – but simply education is the key factor to make a difference.

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The Dia-Legends Club

You know when you see these people from all over the diabetes world on the social network and you think that person is cool, I love them, lets follow them – not in the stalker way it sounds, I promise, but in the totally non-stalkery Brave New World style of Facebook / Twitter etc – isn’t it strange when you unexpectedly bump into those legends in real life?!

During Vancouver (a shocking 5 months ago, where is time going?!) at the World Diabetes Congress, I was running in the [email protected] Race around the Vancouver downtown seawall, hosted by Novo Nordisk. Running is my thing, so all of the Young Leaders I was with were backing me to go and win the race with ease – unfortunately I tend to run long distances like 900 miles, so 5kms are my worst nightmare! I run smart – I save my energy and then burst out with everything I’ve got left in the tank in the final stages; usually after several hours of running! 5k racing to me means sprinting off like a whippet and killing yourself! I was happy with how I coped though, I kept a pace which was fast and was with the front pack more or less, apart from this professional guy from Team Novo who just shot off from the start. And considering I had spent the past 2 weeks inside conference halls and hotel rooms (maybe with a fair bit of alcohol on the evening wind-downs too) – I could hack it pretty well. I wanted to beat 20 minutes and I did that, just, 19 mins 53 – and I’ve ran quicker than that before, plus had to stop and tie my laces, so there’s some potential in the 5km with a bit of training!

At this point I will announce that in April I will be taking on another 5k race, Saturday 16th in Sofia, Bulgaria. To be fair, I have been taking it far too easy since Vancouver and resting the body a bit – as I had many challenges repeatedly to end 2015: cycling 1000 miles over the Alps, enduring the Bear Grylls survivor challenge, running a half marathon in the Ghanaian humidity, the travels to Vancouver and California, it was a lot. It was amazing – diabetes in my life made those incredible experiences happen and did not hold me back in the slightest – but also tiring. The thing about resting up is it always becomes harder to get back into the swing of things, seemingly the older you get. So I am not in ultimate DiAthlete machine-mode right now, but have recently been putting myself back out there and training – and with an A1C now at 6.8% down from 7.4, I am content and also just said it, I am The DiAthlete, anything is possible with this guy, right? He is not all human! It is just a matter of keeping at it, getting out there, being committed and getting back into that character!


At the end of this mentioned 5k race in Vancouver though I bumped into none other than Kyle Jacques Rose. Who else? When I am at events in London or the UK, chances are at some point I will be at an event with Kyle; when I am climbing up the Alps in France, the chances are Kyle happens to live on those Alps; when I am in Brussels being seen off before a cycling tour I am dreading (as I am a runner and not a cyclist), the chances are that Kyle is the official guy seeing us off; when I am in San Diego to speak at Dexcom’s HQ, chances are Kyle is there at a meeting with them too; when I am in San Francisco, chances are Kyle is property viewing in San Francisco; when I am on tour in Australia, chances are Kyle is also at a conference down under too. Kyle of course is a legend, as well as my stalker. It is more a case of me being like 007 and Kyle being like Felix, his secret service ally from the CIA… He was one of the co-founders of Team Type 1, a professional cyclist and is very active all around the globe for the cause – particularly with the app MySugr.


Kyle Rose introduces me to his giant and cool friend called Bastian, from Germany, who like Kyle and I also lives with type 1 diabetes. Bastian happens to be the founder of the deDOC – which was the original diabetes online community account, started for German diabetes networks. So after a good chat following this race, dressed in running wear, Kyle invites us to this party.

I text Paul Madden, who is like every Young Leader’s uncle and also lives with diabetes, (he was one of the first people to receive insulin from Banting he has been around that long!) so it is important to let Paul know if you are going out and are likely to come home late. The Young Leaders were at an organised dinner but after engaging in great conversation with Kyle and Bastian, by the time I would have made it there all the Young Leaders (the coolest group of people living with diabetes from all over the world by the way) would have eaten all the food! It seemed best to stick with Kyle and Bastian…

So we completely crash this gathering, which is inside a very nice room of a very nice hotel in Vancouver, after a 15 minute walk or so. Luckily some good food was on offer too! And whilst at first I do not recognise any faces, as everybody is spread out from the balcony area to the kitchen – it was surprising how big the suite stretched too! Eventually people just start popping out of nowhere and it is that very moment which I mentioned at the beginning of this post. T1 legend and writer, Riva Greenberg, is hanging out with a glass of champagne in hand! I walk by to go to the bathroom and out of nowhere I end up having a hug with Dr Manny Hernandez from California! I go to take a seat and I’m sat next to this Swedish guy, also founder of MySugr, Fredrik Debong! And when going to view the balcony area I bump into Zoe Heineman from New York, who founded Hypoglycemia Awareness, and we’re having a chat about running marathons. It was a surreal experience because initially I just wanted to finish my race and get some grub, next thing I’ve gatecrashed The Dia-Legends club. And I was still wearing my shorts, despite the very cold Canadian winter air!

I’ve been very fortunate to meet many people from all areas of the world on this journey that life more or less threw me into. It has been an honour and the one thing above all else I can take from it is that whilst living with a 24 hour disease, where you have to be constantly responsible for your health, there’s a big plus side, a reward that can come with it too – against all the negatives you can list, the positive that I wouldn’t change in the world comes from all the people you automatically become connected with, through this cause. The diabetes communities are outstanding, we all share something in common, whatever our race, culture or background, and unite because of it. My advice to those who shut themselves off or who have been recently diagnosed, remember you host a membership in the DiA-Legends Club too!

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