type 1 diabetes

Information and questions about Type 1 diabetes.

Mr South Africa contestant is a Type 1 diabetic

We just got an email from Derick Truter, who is a Type 1 diabetic and also a Mr South Africa contestant. Here’s his story – let’s all support him on his Mr SA journey!

Let me quickly introduce myself.
My name is Derick W Truter (Age: 21), and I am one of the Top 50 Finalist for the Mr South Africa Competition of 2017.

As challenge one of four (1/4), we had to raise a minimum amount of R10,000.00 for CANSA. We are being judged on our creativity and hard work during the contest. I held a “Potjie” Contest and family day to raise funds for this good cause; we have raised R13,000.00.

I was born in Carletonville, Gauteng (06/06/1996), and grew up living in Gauteng. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on 14/10/2010 in the Potchefstroom Medic Clinic hospital, after I was rushed to the medical department after my local doctor tested my sugar and found the meter saying “HI”. This was after my grandma noticed diabetic symptoms. At the time of hospitalisation, my blood reading showed 34.4mmol.

In 2011, I was also diagnosed with Pancreatitis (Inflammation of the Pancreas, causing abdominal pain). I went for several medical procedures, including CAT Scans and Endoscopy. With the time passing, I have already begun to experience diabetic complications, as my eyesight is getting poor, and I still experience occasional abdominal pain caused by the inflamed pancreas.

But today I am standing strong as one of the MR SA contestants.

As a diabetic, I fully understand the emotions we have to deal with daily: this is not an easy condition to live with, because it takes time to manage and a lot of patience…

Sometimes I also experience ups and downs and days I am not feeling well, and I know how hard it is to educate other people, who think diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.

Insulin is not a cure: it is life support.
I want us to find a cure.
I will stand strong, and fight this condition every day.
I want to be a voice for every other diabetic!

A Fabulous Sugar Alternative

IMG_7025I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want something decadent to eat – despite being diabetic. I want a slice of cake with my cup of tea, especially if I’m celebrating with friends and family.

Of course, Sweet Life has always shared recipes for treats as well as ordinary food, because we believe that you can’t be on a diet your whole life, and diabetes is definitely sticking around for your whole life… But still, it made me feel guilty to use sugar in recipes when I know what sugar does to my blood sugar (bad, spiky things!)

That’s why I was so delighted to be given Natreen artificial sweetener to test out. I’ve always been a bit scared of artificial sweeteners because of aspartame, which has been linked to cancer, but Natreen doesn’t have any aspartame which makes me very happy! (Apparently the claims of aspartame being linked to cancer haven’t been proven, so it’s not something that they can shout about any more).

My next concern, though, was what replacing normal sugar with a sugar substitute would do – particularly while baking. I’m very happy to report that the result was exactly the same, and my non-diabetic friends didn’t even notice the difference! I made our special occasion Flourless Chocolate Tart and it was simply fabulous. Best of all, my blood sugar readings were heaps better than if there had been sugar in the cake. That’s because the sweeteners in Natreen (cyclamate and saccharin) don’t have any carbohydrate – as opposed to sugar, which is 100% carbohydrate. I actually asked for a breakdown so that you could see exactly what I was talking about – take a look below:


  • 8 drops Natreen Liquid = 1 tsp sugar (4.2g)
  • 100ml Natreen Liquid = 0.96 calories
  • 1 tsp sugar (4.2g) = 16 calories
  • 100g sugar = 387 calories
  • 6.67ml Natreen Liquid = 100g sugar


  • 100ml Natreen Liquid = 0g carbohydrates
  • 100g sugar = 100g carbohydrates

So for those special occasions when you really want something delicious and sweet, I would highly recommend using Natreen instead of sugar… Your blood sugar will thank you!

Specialist Physician in KZN?

Hi there,

We relocated a year ago from the good old Gauteng to Nottingham Road in the Midlands. I have Diabetes 1 and am looking for specialist physician, I have tried two one in Hilton and one in Pietermaritzburg. The one in Hilton sent me to be scanned for kidney failure, the radiologist found nothing and could not understand why I was sent there.

The second one in private hospital Pietermaritzburg, saw me the first time where I presented him with a letter of introduction from my previous specialist as well as a copy script of all my medication agreed to by the doctor and my medical aid. He then said on my next visit he want a complete set of blood test done so he can build up his own file on me. This was done and dusted and sent to him a week before my scheduled appointment, the day before my appointment they cancelled the appointment, when I asked why I was told he is an I house doctor with the hospital.

When I explained that I urgently needed a script because my repeats were finished I got nothing but attitude from this practice, even after explaining to them that I can’t stop my medication to suit them, after a few days of verbal battle I was given a new script with 6 repeats to date I am still waiting for a new appointment date, I won’t be going back there. And then the cherry on the cake the medical aid rejected all the blood test bar those that conforms to my treatment plan, which meant I had to pay a whopping R 1600.00 out of my pocket (I’m a pensioner so this type of spend really puts a strain on my finances). The medical aid insisted that these tests where not necessary.

I can’t believe the unprofessional attitude here in KZN, I only have two repeats left and am desperately trying to find a specialist physician, can you help me please.
– Don

Diabetes Turned My Life Around

Hi everyone…

It’s so heartening to read all of the posts on your website and learn from all of your experiences! It has inspired me to share my story on your website.

I am a 40 year old Indian male. Two years ago (18 December 2013) to be exact, I had admitted my self to the Umhlanga Netcare hospital. I was just too tired, too run down and did not know what was going on with my body. I had started feeling tired, restless, sleep deprived a few days before. I was also very stressed out and emotionally down due to a lengthy divorce battle and being separated from my children. The doctor attending to me admitted me to ICU. I was undergoing a Type 1 Diabetic Keto Acedosis attack. I lay in hospital for a week. When I was finally discharged, my weight had dropped from around 85 kg to 68kg! I was totally insulin dependent, and was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic at the age of 38.

My world seemed to be collapsing around me. First, the divorce/separation from my wife and kids (who mean the world to me), and now finally my health just failing me completely. I just could not cope with anything at that point in time.

Eventually I pulled myself together. I started off my new life by following my Insulin dosage instructions carefully, and by doing relentless research on Diabetes Type 1 and read up on everyting about Diabetes and related topics/posts/blogs etc. I learnt about a balanced Diabetes nutrition and and how to shop, prepare and eat food Diabetes Smart. I eat a low fat, controlled Low GI Carb Diet, with no refined/processed foods. I have developed an exercise routine that I follow religiously. My eating pattern, portion controls and diet have become a daily way of life now. Its embedded in my lifestyle.

When I was going through the Type 1 DKA attack, my blood Glucose was 27 mmol/l, my HbA1C at that time was 18.5 percent and Cholesterol 4.67 mmol/l. Since Dec 2013, I do HbA1c’s every 6 months, together with Cholesterol checks etc. My last two HbA1C’s were 4.90 and 5.10 mmol/l, and Cholesterol 3.67 mmol/l.

I believe that I have my condition under control, and firmly believe that I can still have a meaningful, productive life of good quality, if I maintain my Diabetes Care Routine.

Type 1 Diabetes does not have to be a death sentence, you can turn it in your favour by living and eating healthily and staying positive about your life.

Cheers for now everyone and happy, healthy living!

– Dhiraj

All About the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)

We recently got an email from a reader who loves the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and asked us to write an article about it in Sweet Life magazine next year – we will! Here’s what he has to say about it.
I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic since 2006 (at age 27). I’m on MDI (multiple daily injections) and not on a pump. Apidra + Lantus.
Early this year, I started using a CGM, it made a massive difference in how I treat my glucose levels.
I don’t think everyone knows the power of a CGM such as:
* it gives me a reading every 5 minutes
* given above, it provides a graph which clearly show you that you are going high or low
* it provides alarms to alert you about lows and highs.
* useful statistics, you can calculate your average and time in target much better
* useful to see the dawn phenomenon in action when you wake up, i.e. easily correct your basal rate.
* useful when exercising, you don’t have to stop to take a BG check, just checkout your graph all the time.
* glucose values can be automatically uploaded online such that family members can monitor you remotely. This feature is very handy for keeping track of T1D children.
I experienced the FreeStyle Libre (not really a CGM, but almost) and I’m using the Dexcom G4 now. Yes, the sad part is that they are expensive, but some people might be able to afford them. The G4 sensor is suppose to be used for only 7 days, but many people get 3-4 weeks out of them. My first sensor lasted 30 days, which makes them more affordable.
My online real-time glucose values : http://jaco-cronje-cgm.herokuapp.com/
it is using nightscout (I hope you have heard about ;))
I have a blog where I post CGM related stuff once in a while: www.freestylelibre.co.za
It would be great if you can look into CGM’s in one of the magazine issues.
– Jaco
Jaco also sent a link to his Type 1 Diabetes Survival Kit, which is very helpful!

Looking for Diabetes Support

Hi there,
I think it is so great that you have managed to turn your diagnosis into a magazine!  I think it is really inspiring!
Im hoping you can help me.  I am looking for an online forum to support me and my diabetes.  I am 29 and was diagnosed at 5.
I want to get on to a pump because I think it is the next best thing for me, however, I am stuck between a finding a good clinic in Joburg, Medtronic and finding a Medical Insurance company that will cover me.
I just need someone I can speak to and help me clear my questions as I do not understand all this legal terminology.
In Zambia we have no support network (in fact I am the head of one but no one comes to it) – and I just need someone to talk to. The psychological aspect can have such a toll.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,

Blood Sugar and Exercise

After 20 years of being a Type 1 diabetic the insulin has finally caught up with me and caused me massive weight gain over the last couple of years, a year of Banting did not help, it did nothing for my insulin or weight levels, so in my desperation I joined the gym at the beginning of the year.

I attend four hour long classes a week; namely Kick class, Zumba, and two spinning classes.

When I first started going to the gym I tested my sugar half an hour before class, it was spot on ranging between 4’s and 6’s, I always took a snack along with me as I expected my sugar to drop during or after exercise; as we are generally taught is the case.

To my absolute horror my sugar did not drop, the complete opposite happened, an hour after gym class I would retest my sugar levels and it would be between 15 and 22!

This is a little sample of how my sugar readings looked before and after exercise:

  • Before:  6.3  After:  16.4
  • Before:  4.7  After:  14.7
  • And the cherry on the cake, Before:  5.2.  After:  22.1.

This continued for about two months, I started to panic and was worried that I would have to stop the exercise because of this.  I thought that surely these high sugar levels after exercise were doing damage and the exercise was hurting my body more than helping it.

That was when Google became my new best friend, I googled “High Blood Sugar After Exercise” and found hundreds of articles explaining to me that the more intense the exercise is that you do, the greater the chance is that your sugar levels will spike and NOT DROP after exercise.

According to the articles I read this is due to the fact that during intense exercise your liver starts increasing the amount of glucose that it is producing, the glucose needs insulin in order for it to be used by your muscles, so if there is not enough insulin in your body at the time of exercise the glucose cannot get to your muscles and your sugar levels will spike.

I started experimenting by not snacking before class and giving a unit or two of Humalog 30 minutes before the class.  The results were epic.  Perfect levels before and perfect levels after exercise.

This is a little sample of how my sugar readings look now before and after exercise, after introducing a unit or two of Humalog before class:

  • Before:  7.1.  After:  6.6
  • Before:  6.7.  After:  7.2
  • Before:  7.4.  After 4.2.
  • Before:  7.3.  After 5.8.

Who knew!  After all these years of being taught to eat before you exercise because the exercise will probably cause a hypo.

5 months into the gyming and this regime continues, a unit or two of Humalog before class and perfect readings after exercise.

Alas, the gyming is not helping for the weight yet, but hopefully it will in time…

This is just my experience, I hope that maybe sharing my experience may help someone else suffering from the same issue.  I wish that we were taught this along with the “low blood sugar after exercise” theory.

By Frances Gates

The Diabetes Dawn Phenomenon


I’ve been a Type 1 diabetic for 20 years now.  Lately I am suffering horribly from the dawn phenomenon.  My sugar readings are perfect before bed, perfect at 03:00 am when I wake up to test, but absolutely sky high when I wake up in the mornings.

Has anyone experienced this and if so how can it be prevented?

Thank you.

– Frances