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First published Thursday 26 July 2018.

Georgia's story

"I've definitely gotten used to having Type 1 Diabetes but there are periods where I give up a little bit. I won't grow out of diabetes. It's always there. There's no escape from it."

Georgia Egan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine. Despite having lived with the chronic disease for nearly half her life, the 17-year-old said she was finding it tough being a teenager with diabetes.

"Diabetes is always on the back of my mind — there's never a break from it," she said. "I feel as if I'm always testing my blood sugars, bolusing (dose of insulin taken to handle a rise in blood glucose) and counting carbs. I know it's not a hard thing to do but it gets really annoying having to remember to do it all the time.

"When I was first diagnosed it was easier, as mum would remind me to test myself, but now that I'm meant to have more control, I don't do it as much. There are days where I really don't want to deal with diabetes – but that's not really an option as this is the reality of my situation."

Mum Belinda agrees the teenage years have so far been the family's biggest challenge.

"When Georgia was younger it was easier to manage her diabetes because you're in charge of what she eats, where she goes out and testing," she said.

"Teenagers are far more independent so you need to hand over the reins a little bit. I feel I'm always on Georgia's case but if she forgets to change her pump site and then goes high (hyperglycaemia) or forgets to bolus or test, which can lead to highs or lows (hypoglycaemia), it's very frustrating."

Belinda says teenagers have enough to cope with without adding diabetes into the mix.

"Georgia's juggling Year 12, a social life and Type 1 Diabetes and unfortunately, life sometimes gets in the way of managing her condition and staying on track," she said.

"We're really focusing with her on making sure we're doing everything to help her, but she's got to meet us halfway and want to do it."
Being involved in research at the Children's Diabetes Centre has helped to ease some of the burden. Georgia recently completed the Hybrid Closed-Loop Outpatient Trial, an at-home trial of a device that is a step towards an artificial pancreas.

"This system definitely helped with my diabetes management, especially overnight, and helped to keep my blood sugars as stable as possible which was fantastic," Georgia said. "I didn't go low as much.

"These types of trials plant a seed of hope that researchers will develop something that will be a long-term solution or even help cure diabetes. I want to be part of the solution that can help make life easier for those living with diabetes."

Photo: Georgia with her mother Belinda.