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Diabetes Victoria Blog

Join the discussion in our blog where a variety of writers from all walks of life take a stance on current diabetes issues.

Diabetes Victoria proudly supports The Voice to Parliament

Diabetes Victoria supports Uluru Statement from the Heart and The Voice to Parliament.
Diabetes Victoria’s mission is to support, empower and campaign for all Victorians affected by, or at risk of, diabetes.
We are committed to working with priority communities to understand their needs and deliver services that support fairness and health equity. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who reside in Victoria. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes1. 
Diabetes Victoria recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the Traditional Custodians of this land and have their own Lore, customs and celebrations that have existed for over 60,000 years.
Enshrining the Voice to Parliament and recognising this in the Constitution is a vital step in engaging with Aboriginal communities to reduce health disparities and move towards reconciliation.
Our organisation will be supporting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
Diabetes Victoria respects the diversity and varied opinions of our members. We encourage all Victorians to access the available resources and to make an informed decision ahead of the referendum.
Diabetes Victoria acknowledges that this time may be distressing for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and we encourage anyone impacted to speak with community or support services such as 13Yarn (13 92 76), Lifeline (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). 


Buruli ulcer – how to reduce your risk

While the risk of transmission for the Buruli ulcer is considered low, a new study suggests people living with diabetes are at higher risk of developing the bacterial infection.
Several recent cases across Victoria serve as a timely reminder to be aware of the symptoms.
The Buruli ulcer is a skin disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans. The toxins made by the bacteria destroy skin cells, small blood vessels and fat under the skin, which leads to ulceration.
These bacteria are found in the environment, but it is not known exactly how humans become infected. In Victoria, there is increasing evidence that mosquitoes and possums have a role in transmitting the infection to humans.
Buruli ulcer is not known to be transmitted from person-to-person, however, if you’re living with someone who has Buruli ulcer, it is recommended you self-monitor for any non-healing skin lesions.
It is important to remember that the risk of infection is low – even in areas of the state where the infection is endemic (constantly present in the community).
Symptoms of Buruli ulcer
  • A spot that looks like a mosquito or spider bite forms on the skin (most commonly on the limbs).
  • The spot grows bigger over days or weeks.
  • The spot may form a scab.
  • The scab disintegrates into an ulcer.
  • The ulcer continues to enlarge.
  • This ulcer is usually painless and there is generally no fever or other signs of infection.
  • The infection may sometimes present with no ulceration but with localised pain, swelling and fever, raised lumps, or thickened or raised flat areas of skin.
Buruli ulcer is usually diagnosed by a doctor, based on your medical history, travel history, a physical examination, or swabs or biopsy taken from the ulcer.
Early recognition and diagnosis is important to prevent skin and tissue loss. See your GP if you have a non-healing skin lesion.
Reduce your risk
  • Mosquito-proof your home by securing insect screens.
  • Avoid mosquito bites by using personal insect repellents containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin.
  • Cover up by wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing.
  • Avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially at dusk and dawn.
  • Wear gardening gloves, long sleeved shirts and trousers when gardening.
  • Wear insect repellent on any exposed skin.
  • Protect cuts and abrasions with a dressing.
  • Promptly wash any new scratches or cuts you receive with soap and apply a topical antiseptic and dressing.
  • Exposed skin contaminated by soil or water should be washed following outdoor activities.
Most Buruli ulcers require treatment with a course of oral antibiotics. Surgery is sometimes used in combination with antibiotic therapy if required to promote healing.
If you’re living with diabetes, you’re likely already keeping an eye on your skin. Cases of Buruli ulcer have been reported in locations across the state, however they remain extremely rare.

Chat with your GP if you’re concerned about a skin lesion that’s taking longer than usual to heal.


Type One Writers connects type 1 warriors

Suzie Byatt is on a mission to connect and empower people living with type 1 diabetes through the almost lost art of handwritten letters.

Picture this: you open your mailbox to find a letter in careful handwriting
on beautiful stationery; the thoughtful words expressed by
someone from across the globe who understands exactly what it’s
like to live with type 1 diabetes. The penpal in question was
matched with you based on your aligned values and
circumstances and has become a cherished friend. 

That’s the experience Suzie Byatt and her sister Zoe are offering
through Type One Writers, a penpal service for anyone, at any age,
living with type 1. The duo pride themselves on building community
and both understand how challenging and isolating living with
type 1 can be. 

“Zoe was diagnosed with type 1 when she was 16,” Suzie explains.

“We’re from the UK and she was showing all the typical symptoms,
the four Ts.

“It was a shock because we didn’t have any awareness or knowledge about type 1 diabetes but after a bit of research it turns out it had skipped two generations – all our grandparents parents had it.”

Getting connected

Zoe set up Type One Writers in 2018 to connect people across the UK living with type 1.

“It was open to anyone with type 1 diabetes, but she was focusing on kids with type 1 and parents of kids with type 1,” Suzie says. 
“She thought it would be a great idea to create a stationery pack and match people with a penpal.”
Almost two decades later, Suzie was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

“I wanted to have a baby, so I went to the doctor for a preconception screening,” Suzie recalls. “I was diagnosed and told I was probably type 2 based on my age, which was 35 at the time.”

While she waited for further test results, she was told to assume she was now managing type 2 diabetes.

“I was really determined to reverse it. I’m vegan and I have a vegan dietician and with her help I managed to get my blood sugar levels under control quickly, without insulin,” she explains. 
“A few weeks later I got a call on a Friday evening at 6pm, my doctor was quite urgent on the phone and said ‘you need insulin, you’re type 1’.

“I had been treated like I was responsible for having type 2 diabetes and I had caused it, so in a way I was relieved, but then it hit me that it would be something that I would be living with forever.”
“I didn’t know anyone with type 1 apart from my sister, and I didn’t know anyone pregnant with type 1, so I did feel isolated.” 
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t directed by anyone in my care team to Diabetes Victoria or anywhere I could seek support. I felt quite alone and I wanted to feel closer to someone who could relate to me.”

While balancing her work as an art teacher, artist and yoga teacher, Suzie started working with Zoe on expanding Type One Writers. She wanted an opportunity for herself and others to connect with people who understood the daily joys and battles.

“I wanted to revamp it so that I could feel more supported, a little selfishly,” she admits.

Future generations

“When my son was born, I also decided that if he is diagnosed one day, I want him to feel there’s an amazing community he can be part of, and it doesn’t have to be through technology. This is something that’s personal and tangible and it’s a process that’s mindful as well – which can be great for your blood sugar levels!”
The bespoke, illustrated stationery sets Suzie designed and her process for connecting members are both lovingly considered.

“When someone signs up, they let us know if they are happy to be matched with someone from another country, if they would prefer someone of a similar age, or if that’s not necessary,” she explains.

“I will do everything I can to find that person the best match based on their preferences.

“So far the people that have signed up don’t mind, they’re just really excited to write to someone and connect and support each other.”

The stationery starter pack is comprised of two pieces of writing paper, two postcards, an envelope, stickers, and a handwritten welcome letter from Suzie.

“My background is in design and art, so this was a really lovely way for me to give back to myself and to the diabetes community,” Suzie says.

“The artwork I’ve created empowers me, so I hope to evoke the same feeling for everyone who receives it.”
Suzie recently made her first match – two parents of children living with type 1.

“Both of their sons are 10 years old – one parent lives in America and one lives in Australia,” Suzie explains.

“I’m hopeful there will be synergy between them and they will have a lot to talk about. “I feel excited that they care enough about this venture that I’ve started and have put their trust in me to find the perfect person.”

Type One Writers membership is open to Type 1 warriors of any age (including parents of Type 1 warriors) living anywhere in the world. For more information, visit the Type One Writers website.