Guest Speaker Blogs

#diabeteschat Blog – Jack Iredale

The first birthday celebrations for #diabeteschat on Monday 6th February 2023 brings a conversation about life with diabetes as a professional footy player:

One thing I found interesting in tonight’s chat were two themes that kept popping up because it’s what obviously keeps Aussie-Kiwi, Jack Iredale, professional footy player with T1D living in Scotland going in life…

(1) no matter who was asking Jack questions, he continued to bring everything he discussed back to the concepts of ‘there’s no right way of doing diabetes, so do what works for you’
(2) ‘support…it’s his support circle in his life that gets him through the rubbish days of having diabetes’.

People with diabetes and parents/carers of people with diabetes cannot hear this too often…it’s ok to have good and bad days when living with diabetes…so be disciplined when you need to be, but be kind to yourself when you need to be…and most importantly, build your support circle…anyone can live with diabetes, but to thrive with diabetes is only possible when you’re well supported.

Jack showed the diabetes community how to see the pros and cons in having diabetes. Although no one wants diabetes, including Jack, he seemed to be able to turn this negative situation into a positive outlook by realising that because his diabetes management requires him to be very disciplined with his routine that this has also enhanced his approach to his professional footy career. Despite this though, he does from time to time (just like everyone with diabetes across the globe) become frustrated by having to think about diabetes all the time. However, he realises it’s ok to have these frustrations if he doesn’t dwell on them too long. This is when he goes a bit slower, is kind to himself, takes time out for a bit and leans on his support circle.

The tweets and conversation coming from the community whilst listening to Jack tonight gave the impression that Jack’s ability to be grounded and feel comfortable with how he does life with diabetes was simplistically inspiring. This can be especially encouraging for parents supporting children and teenagers living with diabetes.

Jack’s grounded approach to his footy and diabetes life isn’t just inspiring to others living with diabetes or to parents/carers supporting those with diabetes. His pragmatic approach to dealing with diabetes stigma is one that all of society need to hear too…

From the perspectives of those living with diabetes, to hear someone who lives with diabetes whilst training and playing professional sport say “don’t worry…it will all work out” can be so empowering. Community are going to resonate and feel much more at ease when they hear this sentence from someone else who also lives a life with an unrelenting chronic condition, rather than hearing it from a health professional who doesn’t have the same chronic condition. It’s no disrespect towards health professionals…it just highlights that people with diabetes need to include both in their support circles…the health professionals, but equally their peers living with diabetes 24/7. A typical diabetes team is multidisciplinary, not just from a professional perspective, but from an everyday perspective too.

So the take home messages from Jack’s #livedexperience shared on #diabeteschat tonight are :

  1. Do diabetes your way!
  2. It’s ok to have good and bad days when living with diabetes!
  3. Take time out when life gets a bit rough!
  4. Keep building your support circles!
  5. Refer people with diabetes to peer support networks!
  6. Educate others about your diabetes so we together reduce stigma!

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