Pursuing The Dream
Pursuing The Dream
Managing Diabetes This
By Johnny Bailey, teenage diabetes advocate
Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional about your diabetes management. Individual symptoms, situations and circumstances may vary.
“Type one diabetes is an autoimmune condition, there’s nothing you could or could not have done that would’ve prevented this,” were the first words that I, and many others hear when they’re diagnosed, when you’re lying in the hospital bed with an intravenous drip in your arm.
For me, those words were a relief, I finally gained an answer to all the questionable symptoms, the endless nights of wondering what was wrong with me, were over. The polyuria, frequent urination, stopped; the polydipsia, constant thirst, stopped. The pounds of weight came back to me in that exact moment, and almost ironically, a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
To the left of me, however, was my sobbing mum, who’d just been told her fifteen-year-old son had a chronic condition that affects barely 15 in 100,000 people around the world1; it takes time for a family to recover from such overwhelming news.
Lockdown was still imposed and from Thursday to Monday, it was just me and my mum against the world, except occasional family FaceTimes, alone on the high-dependency ward. It’s an experience that’s ultimately unique to every person living with type 1 diabetes, and it’s through these personal stories and anecdotes, that we come together as a community of autoimmune warriors to fight a condition that affects very few people worldwide.
And yet having just one person to talk to, who understands the very literal highs and lows of having diabetes can make it seem like it’s the most common condition there is, and take away the burden of being alone with this disease.
Connecting with others
However, it was glaringly obvious once leaving hospital, that there was no platform for us type ones. After the lockdown ended, my mum went back to teach at school, and I was left alone. Alone like I’d never been before. Although I had a family I could speak to, I had no-one who I could sit and talk about my diabetes with, no-one who could truly understand.
Promptly, on the 8th March, a month after leaving hospital exactly, I uploaded my first TikTok video, and I’ve been doing that ever since.
My videos quickly gained momentum and I was given the FreeStyle Libre 2 system just weeks after diagnosis.
Glucose alarms for peace of mind
Like most concerned parents of a type one, my mum set the alarm for 03:00 every morning, she’d hurry on in, wake a very disorientated me up from a lovely sleep, and force me to prick my finger. Every. Single. Night.
That was until the FreeStyle Libre 2 system offered me the optional glucose alarms◊ which meant we could rest easy; the word ‘we’ here makes it seem like it’s just me and my mum with the alarms, it’s not. My aunt, sisters, dad, grandad and nan, all have the alarm§, and for the first few weeks, they looked like skeletons in the morning.
Nervously, I began college in September and recently sat some mock exams. Luckily, the alarms on the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor meant that I would be alerted if I was too high or low in the exam. This relieved the pressure of having to fingerpick every half hour or so† in an already stressful situation, proving itself as a very important friend for students like me.
Education and support
My most viewed video on my TikTok page, with 54 million views, is a video of me changing my FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor, and through this incredibly diverse audience I was able to see just how absent type one diabetes general knowledge is. With every uneducated comment, I felt the need to tackle this supposedly unintentional ignorance around the condition.
Amazingly, what started out as a way for me to connect with other people living with diabetes has transitioned into a community of 280,000 supporters who are empowering each other whilst simultaneously inspiring and educating other viewers who perhaps aren’t savvy about diabetes awareness.
It’s just been my one-year anniversary, and although I have type one diabetes mellitus, an autoimmune condition, my life has never been sweeter.
Johnny Bailey is a FreeStyle Libre ambassador. You can follow him on TikTok @johnnyalanbailey and why not have a listen to his podcast where he chats to Consultant Clinical Psychologist Professor Deborah Christie about transitioning from paediatric to adult diabetes care services.
References & Disclaimers
1.Prevalence and incidence of type 1 diabetes in the world: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Promot Perspect. 2020; 10(2): 98–115. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146037/
◊ Patients choose which device they want to receive alarms: FreeStyle Libre 2 reader or FreeStyle LibreLink app. They must start their FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor with that selected device. Once the patient scans their FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor with that device, they can receive alarms only on that device. The FreeStyle LibreLink app is only compatible with certain mobile devices and operating systems. Please check the website for more information about device compatibility before using the app. Use of FreeStyle LibreLink requires registration with LibreView
§ The LibreLinkUp app is only compatible with certain mobile device and operating systems. Please check www.librelinkup.com for more information about device compatibility before using the app. Use of LibreLinkUp and FreeStyle LibreLink requires registration with LibreView. The LibreLinkUp mobile app is not intended to be a primary glucose monitor: home users must consult their primary device(s) and consult a healthcare professional before making any medical interpretation and therapy adjustments from the information provided by the app.
† Finger pricks are required if glucose readings and alarms do not match symptoms or expectations.
ADC-52887 (v1.0) 02/2022
Pursuing The Dream
Managing Diabetes This
The “Yes” link below will take you to a website other than Abbott Laboratories. Links pointing you to other websites are not under the control of Abbott Laboratories, and Abbott Laboratories is not responsible for the content of such websites or other links contained on such website. Abbott Laboratories provides these links only as a courtesy and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Abbott Laboratories of the site.
Do you want to leave this page?
FreeStyle.abbott/uk-en is a product specific website only intended for residents of the United Kingdom. If you live in another country, please contact your local Abbott office to obtain the correct product information for your country of residence.