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Balancing highs and lows

Serin Edwards, of Masterton. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Diabetes affects 2500 people in Wairarapa
Serin Edwards speaks of managing his life as a Type-1 diabetic

Emily Ireland

The idea of “stabbing” yourself with needles multiple times each day can scare many people.

But for Masterton’s Serin Edwards, and many others living with diabetes, if he doesn’t do it, “[he] would die”.

Serin, a technician at the Masterton TRC Toyota dealership, was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at the age of 19.

Now 31, he has accepted his condition as “normal life”, not letting it get in the way of work or leisure.

Thinking back to his diagnosis more than a decade ago, Serin said the main symptom was his relentless fatigue which he would try to counteract by drinking Powerade before he was diagnosed.

Little did he know that because of his diabetes, this was making things much worse.

“I first started noticing it at work – I would become quite lethargic and couldn’t do anything.”

Before long, his bosses started to notice something was wrong and asked Serin what was going on.

“But in the end, it was my mother who made me go to the doctor.

“I came home from work sick because I was just drinking so much Powerade, which has a lot of sugar in them – it made things even worse.

“I went to the doctor and they said I needed to go to the hospital.

“They didn’t take me up in an ambulance, but I was pretty much admitted straight away, and I was hooked to a machine with an IV that pumped me full of what I needed.”

He said his blood sugar level was “in the 40s – it should be between four and seven, so that was quite high”.

Living with diabetes is a big “balancing act”, according to Serin.

“Your pancreas is what produces your insulin.

“Mine doesn’t work and that’s why I’m a diabetic now.

“Lack of insulin makes your blood sugar levels go high, and too much insulin makes it go low.”

When Serin’s blood sugar level goes too low, he starts shaking.

“The adrenaline kicks in and my body is just trying to keep itself alive.

“Essentially if that happens you have to take sugar or carbohydrates that keep your blood sugar level up there.

“The other way is you can go hyperglycaemic, which is when your blood sugar level is too high.

“You end up being quite lethargic and you tend to need to go to the toilet a lot.”

Upon diagnosis, Serin began using insulin pen needles and was injecting himself four to five times daily.

A couple of years later, he moved on to using an insulin pump.

An insulin pump is a device that provides the body with regular insulin throughout the day through a flexible tube (cannula), inserted under the skin.

Serin will still test his blood sugar levels six times a day – “on a good day”.

When asked whether diabetes limited the things he was able to do in life, Serin responded with, “it’s how you let it affect you”.

“If you want to let it affect your life in a way, it will. If you choose not to, you can do what you want.

“I don’t let it affect me.

“I’ve played sports, football, done all those things where I have had to take my pump off and be without insulin at times.”

Serin said the biggest misconception about diabetes was “that you are not allowed to have sugar if you are a diabetic – I probably have more now than before when I wasn’t a diabetic”.

“It’s about balancing carbohydrates and sugar.

“You don’t go shopping and just grab something off the shelf.

“You see what’s in it.

“There’s a lot of label reading – just to make things a bit easier in life.”

Diabetes Awareness

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

About 2500 people are affected by Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes in Wairarapa.

On Saturday, November 17, an entertaining and informative event has been organised to raise awareness of diabetes.

The day, organised by Diabetes Wairarapa, will run from 11am until 3pm at Club Carterton.

It will feature a cooking demonstration by Jax Hamilton, buffet lunch, and live music from Ray Woolf and The Rodger Fox band.

Tickets are $10 and are available from the Osborne Group offices at 3 Waltons Ave, Kuripuni, Masterton, and The Hub, 78 Main St, Greytown.

Diabetes Wairarapa

To join the Wairarapa branch of Diabetes New Zealand, call Finlay Sutherland on 0275774546.

The first year’s membership is free, and members will receive an information pack, quarterly magazines, and other information from Diabetes New Zealand, plus a Wairarapa newsletter.

The Wairarapa branch also has monthly coffee meetings where you can discuss diabetes with other diabetics and listen to speakers on subjects relating to diabetes.

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