In this ‘Diaview’ we share the differing and connected views on living with type 1 diabetes of Mum and Daughter, through Beckie and Daisy Lawson from Chester. 4 years ago, when Daisy was 8 years old, this condition came into their lives – but today, now aged 12, Daisy has adapted to using both a Dexcom and Omnipod, whilst being an incredibly active ‘diathlete’ in life: cheerleading, cross-fit, netball, dance a few of her hobbies, not to mention her passion for triathlons too!
1. To begin, Daisy, what do you recall from those early stages in your life living with type 1 diabetes? What were your first thoughts and questions about diabetes coming into your life?
Daisy: “I remember feeling scared in the hospital and the nurse taking some of my blood. I felt hot and faint. I could not believe that I would have to inject all the time and I was so worried about that. I was scared of the needles and how this would change my life. I soon got used to it though and it just became part of the everyday routine for me.”
2. And as a parent, Beckie, how were your initial thoughts about diabetes different from Daisy’s? How did you first react to her diagnosis?
Beckie: “I must admit, prior to diagnosis, I didn’t know that much about diabetes. I remember so vividly sitting in the hospital room while the nurse and nutritionist tried to teach us about insulin, injecting and carb counting and wondering if I’d ever get my head around it. The first few weeks were a blur and I remember we barely slept worrying Daisy would have a hypo. After a while, everything fell in to place and I relaxed but I don’t think I’ll ever completely stop worrying!”
3. Individually, what would you say has frustrated you both about diabetes the most?
Daisy: “I find that the most frustrating thing about having diabetes is when it interrupts my school day. Usually this is when my hone alerts a low or a high in the middle of a lesson and everyone looks at me. There was also a time when my dexcom got ripped off by accident in PE and everyone looked really shocked. I don’t like the attention being on me for that reason as I’d rather be like everyone else.”
Beckie: “I find it frustrating that one day you can get everything right and Daisy’s levels are great and the next day you can do exactly the same and the control is just not there. There is no specific way to manage diabetes and you have to learn to ride the wave at times.”
4. Daisy, some might say it is understandable for young people to get a little fed up when parents worry too much, which of course is natural for any parent to do! What is the one thing that your parents might say or do about diabetes that gets on your nerves most of all!
Daisy: “I have a group chat with my parents and they always text me when I’m at school and I’m a bit high telling me to do a correction when usually have already done it! Trust me more! I’ve got this!”
5. Negatives now done with! We are moving forwards… would you say that in a weird way diabetes coming into your lives, though testing, has strengthened your relationship as Mum and Daughter?
Daisy: “It has strengthened it because I feel she cares more and and both mum and dad do anything they can to make having diabetes as easy as possible, making sure I am always prepared and get the best tech for me that they can.”
Beckie: “I think it has made us have a stronger bond. Managing a condition like diabetes is a team effort and you have to work together. Plus, unless you live with the condition you don’t fully understand what it is like and that brings us closer too as we have that shared experience.”
6. Daisy, you are an athlete – a Diathlete – can you tell as more on what hobbies you love doing and some of your favourite achievements (so far!)
Daisy: “I am a Triathlete and have been competing in triathlon since I was eight, which is also the year I was diagnosed. I won triathlete of the year, and year on year make big improvements. I now swim in the top lane and run with older non-T1d kids.
I am also a competitive cheerleader and travel all round the UK competing with them Cheer is the fastest growing sport in the UK and requires athletes to be stunt, perform gymnastics and dance and it’s so much fun.
I do junior CrossFit too which keeps me fit and strong. I love proving that my T1d does not hold me back from doing anything just as well as (if not better than anyone else.
I like to tell people about diabetes and sport and even have my own Instagram page dedicated to my T1d journey (daiz_t1d.xx)
7. Beckie, as a parent, obviously Daisy is not your normal kid in that she runs triathlons! How do you go about prepping Daisy for both average days at school, and more so for sports days with diabetes?
Beckie: “On an average day for Daisy, breakfast is the key to setting her up for a good day! If she has a good breakfast without a huge spike in her levels then the rest of the day is so much easier to manage.
Daisy eats whatever she likes generally but we tend to try to be healthy and more low-carb at breakfast time because of the natural spike that Daisy has anyway. Then it’s just a case of keeping a check on her levels and making sure she always has snacks to hand.
On a sports day we tend to stick to a few rules Daisy eats about an hour and a half before she does sport so that most of the insulin we have given is fully active. We then check her levels about twenty minutes before to see how much insulin she has on board and if she needs any more fuel. We like to get her levels to about 9-10 before exercise as a good base.
There is one training session a week when Daisy swims for two hours it’s a little different as we usually have to push some insulin half way through the session because at the end of the session she has a huge spike because of the exercise. This advance dose means that the insulin becomes active as she begins to spike and that counteracts the high a bit and keeps a bit more control.”
8. From your experiences, what advice would you share to other parents with active children living with t1d?
Beckie: “Keep encouraging fitness as we have found that balance is the best way to manage levels and keep good control. It helps with overall confidence too. The early days are scary but you will get through it and get used to what works for your child. It took quite a while to learn how to manage Daisy’s active hobbies with diabetes but you soon learn and know that you won’t always get it right!”
9. Daisy, two questions really to finish: as Diathlete Daisy, what do you have coming up next?! And for other young people living with type 1 diabetes, from your journey so far what message would you like to share?
Daisy: “I did have a number of events coming up including cheer comps and tri events but the Coronavirus has put a stop to all that. So I’m trying to workout at home to maintain my fitness. I keep practicing skills and following at home workouts online as well as running and biking once a day.
I’d like to tell other young people that you are not alone and diabetes does not define you in fact it can make you a stronger person. I was once asked what would a cure mean to you and I replied, ‘I’m happy and I don’t focus on a cure or not having the condition.’ It is part of who I am and I stay positive.”