WHEN politician Scot MacDonald was diagnosed with type one diabetes, he’d already lost 20 kilos.
Consistently thirsty and constantly tired, he was eventually admitted to Armidale Hospital with a blood sugar level of 40, when for normal adults it should sit between four and eight.
Diagnosed at 51, Mr MacDonald is insulin dependent and injects himself up to four times a day.
“It was a bit of a learning curve, I’d only ever had flu shots or vaccinations,” he said.
“It takes a bit of adaption and it’s not easy with my political lifestyle because you have to try to eat and exercise regularly and that’s quite hard.
“It’s a very dangerous level at 40, it affects your blood vessels and can do a lot of damage to eyes and kidneys, the first few days in hospital were spent stabilising.”
More than 1 million Australians are living with diabetes, and 298 are diagnosed every day according to Diabetes NSW and ACT.
That’s one person diagnosed every five minutes.
Mr MacDonald said what struck him most was the amount of sugar in everyday foods.
“If you eat anything processed you immediately spike up in blood glucose,” he said.
“Even things like a pie or hamburger – it’s everywhere.
“The drinks are pretty obvious, but you see it on them and some of them are absolutely crazy, nearly 30 or 40 per cent sugar.”
It’s a constant balancing act to find the right blood sugar level, Mr MacDonald said, too low and individuals run the risk of seizures or coma at its most serious.
“You make a lot of mistakes when you’re first diagnosed and I found that quite hard in parliament because if you run low you end up in a hypoglycemic state,” he said.
The National Diabetes Week awareness event runs from July 8 to 14.