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What 2017 taught me

At the start of a new year, I like to take some time to reflect on what I learned from the year before, and how I can apply it to my practice going forward. Last year was a very exciting time for me as the Family Centre’s credentialed diabetes educator and dietitian. The Family Centre Type 1 Clinic, launched in March, grew quickly; one weekly clinic day soon filled and we added more and more days to my practice. The Family Centre felt alive, and more and more people with type 1 diabetes of all ages came through the doors to get the help they needed to improve their diabetes management. To me, there is nothing more humbling and special than the thanks I receive from patients in the weeks after their clinic sessions, telling me how the changes we have implemented together have changed their blood glucose control, health, weight or energy levels – and even their relationships and mindsets. I love really getting to know my patients, and their goals, lifestyle preferences, challenges and triumphs. It feels good to be available for patients to book in and effectively target issues when they come up, and when they need help quickly. Technology is a big part of my practice, and it gives me insight into patients’ blood glucose like I’ve never had before! It has also allowed me to open up clinical services to people who can’t make it to the Family Centre, including families from regional areas and over east, via phone and skype.  Two key things emerged from my reflection on my year of clinic at the Family Centre: Firstly, I feel people with type 1 diabetes are conditioned to spend so much time focusing on insulin manipulation that they can forget that the food they eat impacts blood glucose levels just as much as insulin can. I feel that patients should spend time learning about how food impacts blood glucose, which will mean that the effort they expend on adjusting insulin will be much more effective.  Secondly, my patients are amazing problem solvers, always figuring diabetes out while juggling the demands of work, study, travel, sport and family. I have learned that people with type 1 diabetes truly inspire me. I wanted to share some of my favourite feedback from 2017: “I don’t think I have ever had a day this good since I was diagnosed! Thank you so much!” - Female aged 24 “Already seeing a huge difference. She has not been above 10 and it looks a lot more predictable. She says she already feels like she has more energy. Early days – but very happy.” - Mother of type 1 teen “Just thought we would reach out and say thank you again for your advice and support. It has helped us understand the food types vs insulin relationship in a much better way. We have just received our HbA1c and we have managed to get into the 6’s club! Thanks again for all your help”. - Dad of 3-year-old “Thank you so much've helped take the fear away that there is nothing I can do to help her”  - Mother of 11-year-old “This is awesome. Thank you so much Amy. I am honestly learning so much ... I don't know how I will survive without my pocket educator buzzing at me!”  - Female aged 32, during Diabetes Detective week  “Overall, he is doing great.  He eats well, he eats treats, his life is not focused on food, and his levels remain in the well-controlled category.  I am really pleased and grateful for your input and knowledge. I can see that it has made a positive difference.”  - Father of 8-year-old It is comments like these that make me grateful for my role here at the Family Centre. I look forward to the lessons 2018 brings, to meeting new patients and seeing my regulars again, and to working with patients and families to figure out diabetes dilemmas together.

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