February 26, 2016

Helping younger generation with T1D Keep It Real

There is no sugar coating it! Living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) isn’t a cake walk. In fact, patients with this diagnosis struggle to make 600 decisions every day just to keep their blood sugars in check.

That’s why Renfrew Victoria Hospital recently hosted a group of people living with the disease to connect, talk about strategies to better manage their sugar levels, and provide a forum to express frustrations and success stories.

Donna Reid, Dietitian with the diabetes program at RVH, says the presentation was geared to a very vulnerable (and sparse) population—people who are under 30 years old living with Type 1 Diabetes.

“They may have had diabetes from a young age or they may have been diagnosed in their 20s, but they all struggle to manage the many aspects of keeping blood glucose at reasonable levels without too many low blood sugar events,” she explains.

This is a challenging time of life as many are in school, starting out on their own, or starting families. They want to be active, social and limit the restrictions that accompany T1D.

To help provide inspiration and introduce new resources to local patients, Reid and Claire Zanetti, RVH’s certified Diabetes Educator, reached out to one of their insulin pump manufacturing companies with a request for support to bring two guest speakers to RVH.

The discussion held on February 11 featured Adam Elliot and Michelle Sorensen. It was attended by 16 patients and support people—a few of the patients had never been in a room with other fellow T1D patients before.

Elliot, who was diagnosed with T1D at age 12, is now a 21-year-old university student. He shared his story and how he has developed a support system amongst his friends so that they know what to do if he runs into trouble with low blood sugar levels.

Sorensen is a Clinical Psychologist who also happens to live with T1D. She helped the patients understand the process of accepting diabetes in your life and the impact of stress and anxiety as a factor in managing the disease.

There were also a few tools she provided based upon Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques. Her approach is to better equip patients to change negative thoughts about diabetes so those thoughts don’t become a barrier to living life to its fullest.

Reid and Zanetti report that this educational event was extremely valuable to the patients; plans are in the works to hold a similar discussion aimed at all age groups.

“We also have a member from the community offering to start a support group, something that Renfrew has not had in the past,” Reid adds.

After the session, Sorenson shared how important these types of discussions are—especially to young people: “Our T1 friends really need this support and it's lovely to see them benefitting.”

“Our certified diabetes educators, Donna and Claire have offered great services to our patients over the years and this new initiative is another fine example of focusing on the needs of our patients and families,” adds RVH President and CEO, Randy Penney.

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For more information please contact:
Randy Penney, President and CEO, Renfrew Victoria Hospital, 613-432-4851, ext. 260

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and will not tolerate any form of violent, abusive or aggressive behaviour.