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Diabetic thought her symptoms were due to swimming

A backpacker and fitness fanatic who thought her numb toes and hair loss was a result of her hiking and swimming in the sea actually had diabetes – and could have died every time she exercised.

Carly Pink-O’Sullivan, 30, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after a backpacking trip across China, Nepal and Europe.

Ms Pink-O’Sullivan, from Perth, Australia, thought her symptoms – which included hair loss, extreme hunger, needing to drink 12 litres of water a day, numb toes and sweating – were due to her walking for more than eight hours a day and swimming in the sea.

The site administrator also experienced headaches, sweating, shakiness and double vision when exercising, which can be signs of a life-threatening low blood sugar episode.

She said: ‘I worked out every day, I ate a healthy diet and I was the healthiest person in my entire family – so when I was diagnosed I just couldn’t believe I had diabetes.’

Fitness fanatic who thought her numb toes were due to swimming in the sea had diabetes

Carly Pink-O'Sullivan, 30, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after a backpacking trip

Carly Pink-O’Sullivan, 30, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after a backpacking trip

She thought her need to drink 12 litres of water  was due to walking for more than eight hours

She thought her need to drink 12 litres of water was due to walking for more than eight hours

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 DIABETES? 

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterised as having higher than normal blood sugar levels.

Type 1 is typically diagnosed earlier and, unlike type 2, is not associated with excess body weight.

Insulin treatment is required from a type 1’s diagnosis for the rest of their life.

Yet, type 2 sufferers are usually initially treated with lifestyle changes.

It is also sometimes possible for type 2 patients to come off their medication.

Source: Diabetes.co.uk 

‘I was the healthiest person in my family’ 

Ms Pink-O’Sullivan, who is also a nutrition and dietetics student, said: ‘My hair was falling out and I was always so thirsty – at one point drinking up to 12 litres of water a day – and I was really skinny and always hungry but I didn’t realise those were symptoms of diabetes.

‘I worked out every day, I ate a healthy diet and I was the healthiest person in my entire family – so when I was diagnosed I just couldn’t believe I had diabetes.

‘I assumed my hair was falling out because I was swimming a lot in the ocean and chlorine pools, it got worse as I was travelling in Bali but finally stopped when I was diagnosed and started using insulin.

‘When I was in Berlin my toes were numb for a number of weeks and I initially thought it could have been because of the cold weather and wearing boots all the time.

‘I did actually Google it and it said it was a symptom of diabetes but I was fit and healthy so I just dismissed it.

She had double vision when exercising, which can be signs of a low blood sugar episode

She had double vision when exercising, which can be signs of a low blood sugar episode

Google suggested she may have diabetes, but she dismissed it, believing she was healthy

Google suggested she may have diabetes, but she dismissed it, believing she was healthy

Now in control of her condition, she recently ran 12km and hopes to raise awareness of type 1

Now in control of her condition, she recently ran 12km and hopes to raise awareness of type 1

‘You have to keep pushing through’ 

Ms Pink-O’Sullivan said: ‘During workouts my sugar levels would get so low I’d end up having to eat jelly beans or anything with sugar. I was afraid that I would pass out.

‘I went to the doctor for a glucose test and I was then told to go to emergency. 

‘At first, I didn’t understand what was happening, it was all too surreal. When I went to the hospital I got the diagnosis an hour later.

‘Before I was diagnosed I only really knew about type 2 diabetes so assumed I wouldn’t be affected because I was fit and healthy.’ 

Ms Pink-O’Sullivan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2014. She initially struggled with the idea of being a diabetic as it meant she was forced to put her active lifestyle on hold.

Yet she is now fitter than ever and recently took part in a 12km run that saw her raise more than $7,300 AUD (£4,400) for Diabetes WA, a treatment centre in Subiaco, Western Australia.

Ms Pink-O’Sullivan, who wishes to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes, said: ‘After my diagnosis, I was too scared to exercise due to the fear of having a hypoglycemic episode.

‘I had to stop working out because of the risk I’d go into hypoglycemic shock and I’d have to check my glucose levels every 10 minutes.

‘I would need to eat something with a lot of sugar and that defeated the purpose of exercise.

‘Now I still exercise but now I’m a lot more in control of my diabetes so I’m happier and healthier.

She said: ‘I still have to be careful, but you have to keep pushing through and there’s so much support out there.

‘Now I know if I binge on junk food or eat something I’m not supposed to I’m only hurting myself.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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