Each month the Tough Guy Book Club issues a challenge to all members. Some challenges are fun, some are creative, others are health-related – those ones are bloody important and can be lifesaving! In October all goons were tasked to go out and get their blood sugar checked – a screen for diabetes. They had to get a photo and put it on our socials with the hashtag #RedSugar. One person is diagnosed with diabetes every five minutes in Australia, and 2.6 people a minute in USA. It leads to all sorts of health problems, but if you catch it early (as at least one goon did this month) it can be managed.
It was great to see so many goons posting their results. A visit to the pharmacist for a finger prick and reading will give you a quick result – once the dispenser had figured out the instructions, apparently not a regular request in some places unfortunately. Otherwise, a blood test can be requested from your doctor and is a good way to carry out a full check-up. Some were assessed as low risk and advised a test wasn’t required – that’s cool too, the question was asked, and the risk assessed buy a professional. Some goons have been living with diabetes, type 1, or type 2, for some time - a convenient challenge for them as they have the kit at home and know their numbers very well.
Diabetes Australia states that, for a person without diabetes, the day Blood Glucose Levels (BGLs) will generally range between 4.0 – 7.8 millimoles of glucose per litre of blood (mmols/L) and there were a lot of photos of goons with readings within that range. For at least one goon the results were well outside the normal range, raising alarm bells and prompting action.
Josh Hayward from the Altona chapter had an initial reading of 13 mmol/L which was a massive red flag. “After the initial result I immediately booked an appointment with the doctor and had several readings hovering around ten,” Josh said. This led to many tests and appointments ultimately resulting in a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, which was a bloody big surprise. “I am 33 years old and generally quite well. I went into this challenge with ZERO inkling that anything was wrong with my health.” If type 1 diabetes remains undiagnosed it can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening medical emergency (information from Diabetes Australia), but if caught early it can be managed. “Purely because of the #RedSugar challenge we found the diagnosis early in my journey, and now it is something I need to manage for the rest of my life,” said Josh.
That rest of life management looks tough: continuously monitoring blood glucose levels, injecting himself with insulin before each meal, tweaking doses to match carb intake, and staying on top of other key areas of health that are most likely affected by diabetes – linking up with optometrists and podiatrists. “There's a lot to learn very quickly,” Josh related, “but I'm surrounded by amazing support both from the health system and my wife and broader family, so I'm starting the journey optimistic that I can get along just fine for a long time yet.”
If there is one thing to say about the ordeal it is to get out and do the challenges! Josh has completed almost every challenge since he joined TGBC in June 2022, and if he hadn’t participated in #RedSugar he could have remained unmanaged long enough to have a potentially nasty health crisis. The challenges can be a fun way to connect with the club, but as you can see, they can be a whole lot more important.
Do the challenges, get your check-ups, and stay safe!