“Don’t let it take over your life” – Ally talks living with type one diabetes 14 March 2022 “My job, it’s definitely not Monday to Friday.” So says Ally Hodge, a water sports specialist operating from Runaway Bay on Australia’s east coast. Ally’s life is just how she likes it – packed to the brim with activities, passion for her work, and a mantra of refusing to let herself be defined by living with diabetes. A practical relationship with diabetes Diagnosed with type one diabetes at age 20, Ally’s relationship with her diabetes is one of practicality and a belief in taking care of all parts of her mind and her body. For Ally, that means finding ways of incorporating her love of the water into her work and recreational time. “My job is to sell yacht toys – flight boards, swimming pools that attach to the back of the yacht, anything inflatable, that sort of thing. Anything fun, for people that own yachts, I source it for them. “It’s a diverse role. Whenever we need to get new or second-hand boats from, say, Hamilton Island, or Sydney or Melbourne, then I’ll fly down with my boss to drive them back up. “For instance, this last week, we flew to Airlie on Monday, and only just got back yesterday from bringing a boat back down. Every week is different.” Lifestyle would have to change Thinking back to the early days of her diagnosis, Ally remembers the warnings about how her lifestyle – full of surfing, the ocean and outdoor activities – would have to change. “When I was first diagnosed, I was told that I wasn’t suited to a pump, that there were all these things that I couldn’t do such as go surfing or be out in the water. And I thought, I’m not going to just stop doing those things because I’ve got this condition now. “I’ll work around it, because those are the things that make me happy.” Since that time, Ally has continued to adapt her diabetes management plan to create one that helps her achieve everything she wants from each day. A large part of her plan includes seeking out technology that enables her active lifestyle. “When I was diagnosed, I was on the pen needles. Now I’m on an insulin pump I notice a huge difference in the way it makes me feel. “And, obviously, the continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I’ve got a Freestyle Libre that I use. I used to be a chippie, so my hands were always hard and rough, and I hated pricking my finger, so I never did it. “Then, once the CGM came along, I could just scan my arm with my phone, and that was such a game changer. It’s just so easy. When you’re standing on top of a roof with a nail bag, you don’t really want to be pulling your test kit and your strips out. I just think everyone should get free CGM.” Keep doing what you love No longer a carpenter, but still someone who tries to be outdoors as much as possible, Ally’s biggest piece of advice for people living with diabetes is to keep doing what you love. “My biggest thing that I say to people is, don’t let it take over your life. You are you, and you’re living with type one diabetes, you’re not a diabetic. “You’ve got your life, and your goals you want to achieve. Yes, the diagnosis means you have to do a complete 180 regarding how you take care of yourself, but you can’t let it take over. You can’t stop doing the things you love doing. “You’re the one that knows what you can do and how you feel when you’re doing it.” Combined with Ally’s attitude of working hard to understand your own body’s needs while living with diabetes, is a desire to work with people within the health sector who understand diabetes on a personal level. For Ally, this comes in the form of her friend Rachael Baker, a clinical nurse and diabetes educator who lives with type one diabetes. “The fact that Rach can fully understand and relate to the people that she treats is so special. She just blows my mind, living with type one and reaching all these goals.” Positive outlook on life Naturally pragmatic and positive in her outlook on life, Ally also acknowledges the extra hurdles thrown into each day when living with diabetes. In classic style, however, she can’t help but finish on a strong, chin-up note. “At the end of the day it’s tough. But you have your down days, and you get back up and think, ‘I’m not going to let the diabetes stop me from doing that’.” You can find Ally surfing, or here on her Instagram.