Who Is The Practical Diabetic?

Me

My name is Leon Tribe. I was educated as a physicist but now work as the National Director for a large multinational organization and occasionally speak at conferences on technology and diabetes.

I live in Sydney, Australia and I am a Type 1 Diabetic. As I write this it has been two years since my diagnosis and I am still insulin free with normal blood sugars. More of that in another post.

If you are interested in my diabetes story keep reading. If you would prefer to cut to the chase and see what this blog is about, jump to here.

Where It All Began

My diabetic journey started near the beginning of 2017. I had been feeling exhausted for months, which I attributed to poor sleeping habits. My hair was falling out in small round patches (alopecia areata) but it ran in the family so I just accepted it. My ankles ached, making it hard to go up and down stairs, which I had no explanation for, other than being middle aged and not particularly health conscious. I had a rash in places one should not have a rash and this also had no valid explanation. Finally, my eyesight was acting up. I had worn contact lenses for shortsightedness since adolescence but it seemed my prescription was on the move again.

Then things started to get a bit more specific to something I could self-diagnose. I was at a conference away from home and found myself permanently thirsty. This was strange because I rarely got thirsty. I was also needing the bathroom every half hour or so and emptied a full bladder each time. This was a problem because I was supposed to be doing an hour presentation at the conference and one does not normally hop off stage for a quick bio-break.

A heavier, thirstier, and overall sicker me on stage

I got through the presentation and flew home. Pretty much the only thing I knew about diabetes was it made you permanently thirsty and pee a lot so I headed to the doctor.

(Mis)Diagnosis

Sure enough my fasting blood sugar was three times what it should have been and I had ketones. For the uninitiated this meant I had the early stages of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). In short, my body had a shortage of insulin and was out of control because of it. My blood was slowly going acidic which is a very bad thing. It also confirmed to the doctor that I had some form of diabetes. The doctor recommended I immediately go to hospital, now, right now, like immediately.

Sure enough I headed directly to hospital where they put me on a drip to re-hydrate me and start a bunch of blood tests. The re-hydration stabilised me and given I was a guy with a few extra pounds in his early 40s with diabetes they came to the (wrong) conclusion I was a Type 2 diabetic.

Misdiagnosis of diabetes happens a LOT with many people being thrown into the Type 2 bucket incorrectly. It was my doctor (a generalist with an interest in diabetes but no formal specialization) who had the sense to test my blood for the tell-tale auto-antibodies which confirmed a Type 1 diagnosis; something the ‘experts’ in the hospital had failed to do. I was a middle-aged man with ‘Juvenile Diabetes’.

Since Diagnosis

Type 1 is a relatively rare disease; roughly one in 200 people have it or, 0.5% of the population. For the first 11 months I met no one with Type 1. This was quite isolating so I started up a monthly meetup to meet others and to learn from them. If you live in Sydney, feel free to come along to our monthly gathering.

While I did not need insulin to keep myself healthy, I was taking pills (Metformin at first, and now also Saxagliptin). However, the pill boxes in the market were dull so I created my own out of a pocket watch. Thinking others may also feel the same way, I now sell them on Etsy.

All this time I have also been learning as much as I possibly can about this disease. My training as a physicist means I can absorb quite a large amount of information quickly, which has proved very useful. This blog is a vehicle to share some of the things I have discovered on the way and, hopefully, help others manage this chronic disease (‘chronic’ just means long term).

Why Read This Blog?

There is a lot of complex information and a lot of nonsense out there. My aim is to reduce the noise and provide simple explanations and practical advice (non-medical, of course) for diabetics of all Types. If you have questions about how diabetes works and how to manage it effectively, my sincere hope is that my blog helps you in some way.

What Is In It For Me?

Perhaps one day I will convert this blog to a book (publishers feel free to contact me :P) but until then this is simply a vehicle for me to clarify my ideas and get them in a format I can refer back to. That is it. There are no paid endorsements and I am not yet in the pocket of Big Pharma.

If you have made it this far, well done and welcome aboard. Thank you for taking the first step with me on a journey of 1,000 miles.