For this World Health Day, I want to share my journey living with Type 1 diabetes.

It's been nine years since I received my diagnosis.

Nine years ago, my life took an unexpected turn. I lost weight fast, felt constantly thirsty, and battled unrelenting fatigue. In the world of Diabetes this is described as the "four Ts" – Toilet, Thirsty, Tired, Thinner - the tell tale symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.

Diagnosis brought with it a whirlwind of emotions. Fear and uncertainty at the forefront. Suddenly, I found myself navigating a new world, a completely different relationship with food and constant monitoring of my body's reactions. The learning curve was steep, the challenges daunting.

Living with Type 1 diabetes isn't just about taking insulin; it's a relentless, full-on journey akin to lifelong project management of a very temperamental project which has very high personal stakes.

It's the endless calculations, the unpredictable highs and lows, the sleepless nights with fluctuating blood sugar levels – it impacts every aspect of your life. 

My blood sugars are my last thought at night and my first thought in the morning.


  • Type 1 diabetes has long been referred to as childhood diabetes but there are many of us who are diagnosed in later life. 
  • It is an autoimmune disease.
  • Blood sugars are affected by food, medication, activity, biological and environmental factors (yes, even the weather impacts). 
  • Research states that a person with Type 1 diabetes makes 180 more decisions each day about their health than someone without diabetes. 
  • There are no secret formulas for insulin delivery which guarantee you stay in target.  It is a lot of best guesses, monitoring, adjusting and dealing with the fallout. Day in, day out.

But around the struggles, there is hope. Over the years, I've witnessed incredible advancements in Type 1 diabetes management technology. I’ve gone from finger pricks and multiple injections to continuous glucose monitoring and advanced insulin delivery systems. These remarkable innovations help to ease the burden of diabetes management and reduce diabetes burnout.

I feel that, as chronic conditions go, diabetes is one that can be trivialised and demeaned a lot in the media which can lead people with diabetes to hide their condition. There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ type of diabetes. They both come with their own significant challenges.  I try to do my part for Type 1 diabetes by being open about my condition in all settings.  I’ve found a balance where I am comfortable and confident with eating out and I’m driven to live my life as normally as I can - with a few extra safety measures built in.

You'll see me scanning my arm in meetings (checking my blood glucose levels), carrying sweets with me at all times (in case my blood glucose levels start dropping), and I will occasionally click or beep (when my insulin pump is telling me something). None of these things are unprofessional; they're a vital part of being a professional living with a chronic condition. I hope that by approaching them as a norm for me, regardless of the setting, this might help others, including any Shaw Education Trust colleagues or our young people living with diabetes, who may be struggling to do the same. 

At Shaw Education Trust, everything we do comes back to our young people and trying to support them the best way we can to live the best lives they can. Dealing with diabetes as an adult is difficult enough, my heart and admiration goes out to all our young people dealing with it and their families and carers.

Through it all, I've found comfort in the unwavering support of the diabetes community. Their empathy, understanding, and shared experiences have been invaluable.

So, as we come together on World Health Day, let us shine a light on the reality of living with Type 1 diabetes. Let us stand together, unite to stop the stigma for all types of diabetes and foster empathy and understanding. And to all those navigating their own diabetes journey, know that you are not alone.

I want to finish this on a positive note, as I have found that a sense of humour helps – so I’ll leave you with this:

"Type 1 diabetes is like riding a bike.  Except the bike is on fire, one wheel is square, and the pedals require Maths to move".

Yet, somehow, we still move forward.

Thank you for listening.