Tom Neller was diagnosed with T1D at the young age of 11. He hopes to change the perceptions around type 1 diabetes and show that it is a completely manageable condition that shouldn’t stop anyone from living a fulfilled life!
We had a chat with Tom about his journey with T1D, how he manages the disease while doing the things he loves and what he hopes to see in the future when in comes to T1D treatments. Let's dive in on his inspiring story...
How old were you when you were diagnosed with T1D? What has been the biggest impact it has had on your life so far?
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 11 years old. To be perfectly honest I don’t really see any impacts that living with Type 1 diabetes has had on my life. I’m sure that there have been some - but they have been so small, they haven’t impacted my life to a point where I would remember them.
Has your perspective on having T1D evolved throughout the years? Looking back, what’s something you would tell your younger self?
I would say my outlook on diabetes has changed to a point that I now realise how important it is to monitor my blood glucose levels effectively. I was always really lazy with testing myself from about the age of 15 onwards. It wasn’t so much that my diabetes annoyed me or I was embarassed to have it, I just didn’t really care about it all that much.
I would tell my younger self to realise the importance of regular testing. I still maintained a reasonably good HBA1C result through those years but I feel it would of helped my doctors massively had I had the information to show them.
How do you manage your T1D while doing the things you love doing – especially when it comes to more physically intense activities?
In terms of managing my diabetes during physically intense activities, I feel I just always plan ahead a little bit and have something on hand to treat a Hypo (low) as I feel it coming on.
I will generally go everywhere with a popper or some form of juice with me and have also recently discovered just how good a banana is at treating a low. Hot tip there if you didn’t know! But I would say it has become an unconscious thought of mine now to just expect I might go low so to always be prepared for it to happen.
Funds raised in this years One Walk Step Challenge will go towards supporting promising areas of T1D research to discover new breakthroughs and treatments. What do you hope to see in the future when it comes to treatments and technology for people living with T1D?
I think the one thing that everyone wants to see for Type 1 diabetes is a cure!! To be honest though - the amount of progress I have seen in T1D treatments in the 20 years since I was diagnosed is incredible and it is always evolving which is so exciting.
I have recently read up on the potential of a vaccine that could immunise children against Type 1 so they will never get it which is absolutely incredible. So obviously a cure, but also just anything that is going to make living with Type 1 easier like all the latest advancements in insulin pump technology, Continuous Glucose Monitoring and pump link ups.
What piece of advice would you tell a young person living with T1D, as they navigate through all the changes that come with being a teenager / a young adult?
I’d honestly say ride it and remember it. You are going to make mistakes with your diabetes management - but learn from them and don’t let them become a habit. I feel that I was allowed by my parents to make mistakes as they knew that I was going to have to learn how to live with this condition. If they wrapped me up in cotton wool I would never learn how to manage my diabetes myself. I feel this has massively helped me as I'm now confident in the way I handle and treat my diabetes and I am able to recognise the distinctive feelings of a Low or a High Blood Glucose Level relatively early on so am able to treat them quickly.
I guess I would also encourage them to not be embarrassed or ashamed of having diabetes. It has been a great talking point and conversation starter for me when I was travelling around Europe as it’s something interesting and noticeable that people are going to want to ask questions about. So own it and be proud of it! I feel if you view your diabetes as a negative it’s going to impact your life in a negative way.
Funds raised in this years One Walk Step Challenge will support the most promising areas of T1D research to help find new breakthroughs and treatments. What kind of T1D breakthroughs do you hope to see in the future?
I would love to see more closed loop technology moving into the future. The way things are going, it’s becoming more and more plausible! Not having to be constantly thinking about doing corrections or carb counting would be amazing.
What kind of impact do you personally hope to have on the T1D community?
I guess my main hope is to show that even with Type 1, you are still able to live an exciting adventure filled life! It shouldn’t stop you from doing anything you want to do. I would also love to break the stigma around diabetes as a negative and try to get people living with Type 1 to see it for what it is - a completely manageable condition that isn’t something to be scared about or feared.
Where can people find you?
If people want to have a chat or reach out I'm on Instagram @tommyneller. Feel free to get in touch with any questions you have or anything at all.