West Coast Fever netball player Verity Charles is proof that living with Type 1 Diabetes doesn't mean your sporting dream has to take a backseat to your condition.
Verity shares her story and top tips for managing elite sport and diabetes here:
Background? I was 17 when I was diagnosed, a week before I was due to go into surgery for a shoulder reconstruction. It came as a massive shock to me as I had no idea what this disease was — I thought I would just be allowed to eat jellybeans for the rest of my life ... I was very wrong.
How do you manage your diabetes and elite sport? What are the biggest challenges? I manage my diabetes through diet and lots of exercise. My diet is pretty healthy. I love my veggies and can make some pretty mean sugar-free treats. I do have a sweet tooth so I still get some chocolate in now and then. The biggest challenge for me is being injured — as I am now — because when I'm injured and cannot exercise like I usually do it makes it very difficult to control my blood glucose levels.
Has diabetes ever held you back? I wouldn't say I've been held back because of diabetes. There have been times when I've had to come off court to fix a "low" but that doesn't happen too often as I try my hardest to keep my levels in check but unfortunately I'm not perfect as I'm human. There have been times where people have doubted what I can do because of my condition (which I hate) but it's always a sweet feeling to prove them wrong.
Do you have to be extra vigilant in checking your BGL when it’s game day? Game day is my favourite day of the week. I check my levels a lot but game day I'm extra tight. Before, after and during meals I like to see what they are doing and how my body is reacting/feeling. I try to keep pretty cool, calm and collected as nerves can throw my levels from perfect to crazy!
What message or tips do you have for newly diagnosed children in regards to diabetes and sport? My advice would be to exercise! Whatever that may be for you, get out and move your body. I can promise it will help keep those levels steady. We only get one body so treat it kindly.
The Children's Diabetes Centre is doing a lot of research into the best ways for patients with Type 1 Diabetes to exercise safely. If you are interested in taking part in one of the exercise trials, or learning more about what we are doing, please email email@example.com or visit our research section here.
Above: Verity Charles in action. Credit: Ashton Murphy