Emily Vuong was on her way home from university in Perth when she began to feel unwell.
Emily has been a type 1 diabetic for nearly 20 years. She’s young, active and diligently manages her health, so she hadn’t had many complications in the past. But she knew instantly something was very wrong.
“The nature of diabetes is that everything can be fine for years, but suddenly something happens and it can be really serious,” Emily says. “I was on the train and I had a really bad hypoglycemic episode – my blood sugar was really low and I had to be taken to hospital.”
Emily’s blood sugar had dropped so low that she was no longer able to speak. The doctors asked Emily’s mum for details of Emily’s health history, but she didn’t have all the answers to their questions.
It was a scary and frustrating experience Emily was determined not to repeat. That’s why she signed up to My Health Record.
After her incident on the train, Emily decided to change the way she manages her diabetes to prevent further hypoglycemic attacks.
Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, the hormone which helps the body break down glucose. In practice, it means when people with type 1 diabetes eat, their body doesn’t draw energy from the food, so they have to inject insulin.
Preventing further attacks
Emily wears a pump, which gives her little spurts of insulin every few minutes. When she’s going to eat a meal, she inputs the number of carbs and it programs the correct amount of insulin.
She also wears a continuous glucose monitor that sends blood sugar levels to her phone via Bluetooth. This gives her better oversight, eliminating the numerous ‘blood pricks’ needed to check glucose levels.
Beyond the steps she takes at home, Emily wanted to ensure the management of her disease was under her control. She’s hoping the expansion of the My Health Record system will take away the administrative burden of seeing so many doctors.
Emily’s lengthy list of regular healthcare providers includes a diabetes educator, dietician, podiatrist, physiotherapist, optometrist and endocrinologist. Before she had My Health Record, it was difficult to keep track of everything.
“It would be awesome if all my information from each doctor and specialist could be in one place, so they don’t have to do so much back and forth.” Emily says. “They would have all my information in one spot.
“My mum loves the thought of me having My Health Record. Before I turned 21 last year, she was managing a lot of my appointments and health information.”
Peace of mind is important for Emily and her mum. With diabetes being as unpredictable as it is, they know it’s important to have a record of her medical history on hand at all times.
“It would also be a lot less stressful for my mum if that situation happened again,” Emily says. “And I know that if I were in an emergency, I wouldn’t be put in the position of having to explain my medical history. That’s the biggest benefit of My Health Record for me.”