Jenny’s been living with T1D – or as she calls it, TOD – for over 20 years. It hasn’t stopped her from building a successful career as a musician though!
After living with type 1 diabetes for 24 years, you learn to live with it in your own way. I’ve decided to call it TOD because: 1) it sounds like a persons’ name, 2) it gives me a person to get angry with when I have bad TOD days, 3) I find it funny and you have to find something to laugh about when you live with it every day!
Jenny (left) with bandmate Ashlea
TOD arrived in my life when I was eight years old. My blood glucose levels were so high that I was in a coma when my parents carried my limp body into the emergency room. Three days later, I woke up and had to start learning how to inject oranges (and myself) with insulin.
I learnt to eat healthy foods early on and my family were a huge support. While I might have wanted a white-bread jam sandwich like all the other kids, they insisted on wholemeal bread, Vegemite and a tomato.
The hardest thing about having diabetes at that age was the reaction of my peers to being ‘different’. “You got diabetes because you ate too much sugar / you were too fat”. I felt isolated and I was thrilled when another kid with TOD arrived at school.
TOD doesn’t stop me from living my dream. I work as a music teacher and a performing musician in folk/acoustic duo The Littlest Fox. Over the last four years we have travelled Australia playing festivals and shows to thousands of people, and recorded four albums.
I still have challenges though, around managing low and high blood sugars while performing. If I’m high, I can get grumpy and irritable during practice. If I’m low, sometimes I need to walk off-stage to scoff a handful of lollies, and my bandmate needs to cover for me and play solo. I always test before, during and after the show, but sometimes you can’t control what your blood sugar is going to do!
I used to be embarrassed to talk about TOD because I thought people would make the same kind of judgements they did when I was a kid. I’m grateful that more people know about TOD now and, if they don’t, I try to share what I know.