JDRF Australia Type 1 Summit

Last Sunday I attended the first Australian Type 1 Diabetes Summit. It was an event bringing together experts in t1 to discuss research, technology, emotional wellbeing and general management. But more than that, it was an event bringing together people with type 1 and their families.

Three main highlights from the outset:

1) There were talks for all ages. It feels like everything t1 related is for young kids and adolescents, so it was a nice change to have an adult focus.
2) It was in Parramatta! Good old Western Sydney finally getting a turn for the big events.
3) It was affordable. $15 for a ticket was reasonable for what I got out of the day.

Not exactly Sydney Harbour- but Parra River doesn't look too shabby.
I went to the summit alone, which for me was a pretty big deal! Yes, I spent the first 45 minutes shaking and texting my friend "WHAT WAS I THINKING I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MINGLE WITH STRANGERS WHO DIDN'T COME ALONE". It was pretty weird to be in a foyer full of people with t1/linked to t1 in some way. It's relatively rare to see a person with t1 "in the wild" and here they all were. Weird in a good way though, because eventually I ended up meeting some lovely people and got to have some great discussions.

I also took a lot from the summit itself. Here's a few highlights:

  • I got to spend some time checking out the new tech, particularly the Freestyle Libre, a flash glucose monitor. For now I love my CGM and all its safety features, but if I ever couldn't afford it the Libre is a decent and slightly cheaper alternative. It won't alert you before a low/shut off your insulin, but you can scan it any time to see what your sugar is doing.

  • Keynote speaker Aaron Kowalski, JDRF Chief Mission Officer, marathon runner and person with diabetes, gave a great update on current research. It was particularly interesting to learn about smart insulin (insulin that you inject once a day and only responds as needed), and encapsulation (implanting a device to act as the pancreas and deliver insulin as needed). The closed loop Medtronic 670G insulin pump also sounds brilliant. A closed loop means less work for us- it can alter your levels of background insulin to suit your blood sugar automatically. 

  • Jane Overland, a diabetes nurse practitioner, was brilliant. She ran us through exercise, alcohol, different types of bolusing for tricky food (hello pizza) and emotional wellbeing. I think I took more from that talk than I did years of diabetes education! I left incredibly inspired and booked an appointment with her straight after.

  • We also had the chance to hear about self compassion and t1. I think this is pretty important when you have a chronic illness. Sometimes, it can carry a lot of internal and external judgement. Even within myself I equate high with bad. Fluctuations with mistakes. Sometimes people assume that with time I don't have those massive highs and lows. 

Little hint, I do. Just like I did when I was 14.

I get frustrated at myself for not being on top of everything all the time, to the point where sometimes I'm just plain mean to myself. It's important to replace words like "idiot", "useless" and "worthless" with neutral statements separating yourself from the blood sugars. You're not your blood sugar/level of management, and I guess I'm not either.

This summit gave me a lot of knowledge, but it also inspired me. My management has been lacklustre for a long time. I've been on auto pilot and getting along okay, but is okay really what I want? No.

Since the summit I've booked in a consult to refresh my carb counting and advanced pump use, and downloaded the mysugr app which is pretty great logbook. I'm trying to be a little more proactive in my health in all areas at the moment, because I'm not doing myself any favours by putting it last on the priority list.

A huge thank you to JDRF and all the speakers on the day! Looking forward to doing this again next year.

I live tweeted during most of the event. Check it out here: https://twitter.com/bec_duke


  1. sounds like such a great event! Lucky you! So wish I could have attended :)

  2. Diabetes events are the best! I'm sure you rocked it turning up by yourself. There's no way to go to a diabetes event and truly be alone.


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