First published with The Advocate –

Feature image: Dylan Burns

Nine-year-old Newlyn School student Lorelai Henderson has returned from diabetes camp in high spirits.

Diagnosed with type one diabetes in September, Lorelai has learned to adapt her lifestyle with the support of her family. She checks her blood glucose levels at least eight times every day and uses an insulin pump for the daily management of the auto-immune condition she lives with 24/7.

“In some ways it’s hard and in other ways it’s easy,” Lorelai said.

“Having to prick your finger every couple of hours is rather hard. You have to leave class and it can make it hard to work.

“The diabetes camp made me feel a little more confident knowing that I am not alone. In Newlyn there aren’t any type one diabetics that we know of.”

Lorelai’s mother Christine said a continuous glucose monitor has made it easier to deal with her condition.

“It predicts when she is dropping, switches the pump off, and will switch it back on again,” she said.

“It means you can sleep as a parent. You can go to bed and know that she is going to be okay.”

Lorelai’s father Kelvin said they would get up at two in the morning each night to make sure her blood sugar levels were high enough before having the continuous glucose monitor.

SUPPORT: Lorelai has her family’s support to help her deal with type one diabetes. Picture: Dylan Burns.

“There were many times when we had to wake her up and give her some lemonade to get her glucose levels back up again,” he said.

“The technology makes it much easier, and now that it is fully subsidised we can afford to use it.”

Lorelai’s grandmother and father both have type one diabetes.

“It’s been good for Lorelai to be able to talk to grandma about her diabetes,” Christine said.

“We were given a piece of advice by a friend who said diabetes was Lorelai’s disease and you need to let her manage that. It has been one of the most important pieces of advice I have got and I hang on to it.

“She is going to have to live with it for the rest of her life and she needs to know what can happen if she doesn’t look after herself, because the consequences aren’t nice.”

The Henderson family are working to start a support group in Ballarat for families with children with type one diabetes.

SUPPORT: The Henderson family says it helps diabetics to know they are not alone. Picture: Dylan Burns.

“It’s so the kids can meet each other and realise they are not alone,” Christine said.

The support group will be held at the Eureka Hall in Ballarat on May 21.

Christine said parents get bombarded with information about type one diabetes.

“These workshops are to allow parents to be around others who get it, who know what it is like,” she said.

“We have jumped on the diabetes bandwagon in a very big way. It’s all about raising awareness around type one.

“People talk about diabetes as being an epidemic, but it’s type two, and it’s rarely differentiated between type one and type two. You do get comments from people saying, ‘oh well, you must have fed your kid too much sugar’. No, it’s an auto-immune disease, we can’t do anything about it.”

There is no cure for type one diabetes and it can not be prevented. Around 2650 Victorian school aged children live with type one diabetes, according to Diabetes Victoria.