Alexis Trindal has Type 1 diabetes which was misdiagnosed for many years. Here, she tells Lifestyle News her story in a bid to raise awareness about the disease., which has affected many members of her family. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to Diabetes Australia.
Q: Hi Alexis. Please tell me a little about yourself.
A: I am a proud Gamilaraay woman. I am one of eight children and my family and I have had diabetes-related diseases. Both my parents also passed away from diabetes-related diseases, and my two brothers had to amputate their legs. I consider myself the fortunate one to have more support through charities, government subsidies and technology.
Q Does there need to be more awareness about the disease in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities?
A: It would be great to have more diabetes awareness raised within the Indigenous community. Most of my family members have diabetes-related health issues.
I was misdiagnosed for many years and struggled to get a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis which resulted in a lot of hardships for me from getting the help I really needed.
I am now getting subsidies from the government and support from charity which I am very grateful for. I think apart from introducing more technology to the Indigenous community, it will also be helpful to have more initiatives, education, campaigns and activities related to diabetes within our community.
We should be included in larger conversations and hopefully this can help raise more diabetes awareness amongst Indigenous people.
There needs to be more conversation especially on how the diabetes technology has evolved over the years and to find ways to educate more aboriginal communities about the condition.
I would also like to add that while my doctors and educators have been very helpful for me, I still think more awareness is needed around diabetes.
I have friends who do not understand why I will need to eat at a certain time to manage my diabetes.
I would also like to have more up-to-date information and available treatments around diabetes. It is however good to know that there is a lot more advertisements on the TV around diabetes and CGMs, because more people around me are now aware of the purpose of my sensor on the stomach.
Q: Are you receiving enough support?
A: At 59, I have vision and mobility issues and have carers to assist me to live independently. My carers will come in the morning to help me around the house, and my social and emotional wellbeing carer will help me with shopping.
I am also very grateful to have a lot of assistance through NDIS as well as volunteers from Vision Australia that visit and help me do things. It hasn’t been easy but having such a strong support network really helps me.
However, I also think it will be great if we can have more opportunity to receive the help we need. Sometimes Aboriginal people get left behind in progress.
Q: Do you use the latest technology to help manage your disease?
A: With diabetes and being legally blind, it creates limitations for me to manage my day-to-day, however, I have learnt to use technology to help me with this.
For instance, I use the ‘Siri' feature on Dexcom to check my sugar levels and try to do my own sensor changes but sometimes need help.
I used to use the Dexcom G5 Mobile which I was also a role model in teaching my carers how to use it. I find the Dexcom G6 CGM very helpful because prior to that I will have to do finger-pricks* which is not convenient because I am legally blind so as you can imagine it isn’t an easy task for me.
Whereas now with the G6, the sensor is very small and portable which doesn’t hinder my day-to-day that much anymore. I just wish we had this product many years ago!
* If your glucose alerts and readings from the G6 do not match symptoms or expectations, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions. Always read the label and use only as directed. Read the warnings available on amsldiabetes.com.au/resources before purchasing. Consult your healthcare professional to see if this product is right for you.