By Jack Sinclair
A quick intro before we get into the nitty gritty. I'm Jack and I’m a Level 17 Type 1 Diabetic … as in, I’ve had diabetes for over 17 years.
In that time, I’ve survived school, somehow got a degree, learned to surf, got a job as a Beach Lifeguard, done a solo trip through India, and now I'm running my own business.
Meet Jackson Sinclair, AKA @jackabetic.
It would be too easy to write about the daily grind of diabetes, so I want to flip it around and share the five ways diabetes has improved my life.
I was 16 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. At that time, I knew nothing about health. My nutritional education started with carb counting and understanding the difference between high and low GI foods. I quickly learned to avoid soft drinks and fatty fast foods (such as KFC). Then the ongoing blood glucose trial-and-error process and adjusting to how my body reacts to certain foods.
Today I continue to refine my understanding around ‘what is nutritional’ (I do occasionally open a book about it too).
Due to diabetes, I am very mindful about what I eat and I am much healthier because of it.
I am always battling to stay fit.
Exercise is a big part of my management system. To keep diabetic complications at bay, I have always put a bit more effort into staying active. It helps to activate onboard insulin and gives me an uplifting sense of achievement.
It’s easier to maintain fitness than it is to build it back up again. So, I try and do something every day to get the blood pumping and to maintain insulin sensitivity.
Without diabetes, I don’t think I’d have the motivation to stay active.
3. A conversation starter
I’ve never been one to shy away from conversations about the condition I have to live with. Opening up and sharing awareness about diabetes not only educates friends and strangers, but it can come full circle, as they will be able to help you out in a sugar-less moment.
Sharing this vulnerability can deepen friendships and can be a great icebreaker when it comes to a room full of strangers.
More often than not it becomes a topic of conversation and it is always amazing how many people will try and add to the conversation by talking about their grandma.
Me: “Yeah … Same same, but different …”
I have made lots of friends (and some girlfriends) by sharing information about diabetes and I'm loving the ever-expanding online diabetic community.
I could have never predicted that this isolating condition has such a supportive online community!
If you’re not already plugged in, get onto social media in follow local Facebook groups, follow hashtags (#t1dlookslikeme #t1dcommunity #type1diabetes) and get around the diabetic influencers.
Me: “Yes, there are Type 1 Diabetic influencers.”
Also me: “No, Nick Jonas is not the only one.”
I have met so many great people through the diabetic community and in life because of diabetes. Sharing how you manage an autoimmune disease is an interesting topic for everyone, from those who do not understand the condition, to those who live with it.
I was blown away when I first tapped into the online diabetic community. It is a place of shared understanding, support, advice, entertainment, and memes. Everyone is super friendly, and I have had some digital friendships spill over into real life.
There is even a diabetes dating app. I haven’t used it, but I’m sure there is some interesting networking happening there as well …
I have connected with a lot of people via diabetes, and this has opened a lot of doors for me. I have gained experiences that I would have never had the chance to do without it. I had the opportunity to give talks at events, meet role models, been sent free products to try. It has given me an online platform and it even helped me land my first few jobs.
I do believe that I am healthier, happier, with more connections and experience in life, because of my diagnosis.
I'm not grateful that I have Type 1 Diabetes - as everyday ‘the-betes’ does try to trip me up - but I am grateful for the life I am living and the opportunities I have gained whilst doing my best to manage this condition.