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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Katie uses her experience of diabetes to help others

Katie's career took an unexpected turn after she switched to an insulin pump.

Soon after I was diagnosed with Type 1, the doctor asked me what I wanted to do as a career.

When I said fashion, he told me it wasn't a good idea and said: 'You need something desk-based, so you can have snacks nearby and have a routine.' It felt like the life I'd planned was ending.

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Seven years after being diagnosed, I was working as an underwear designer when I got the opportunity to move from insulin pens to a pump. I went on a DAFNE course, which teaches adults a way of managing Type 1 by counting carbs. Having the freedom to eat what I liked was a revelation to me. I finally made friends with my diabetes and stopped fighting it.

Pump wearer and designer

As soon as I got a pump, figuring out how to wear it was a real struggle. With a lot of the things I wore, like dresses, it was impossible to get the pump out without going to the bathroom. I began making alterations to my clothes to make my life easier. I'd add pockets, cut holes (so I could thread pump cables through) and sew baby socks to garter belts. I also met people with Type 1 who had anxiety about being connected to something. As a pump wearer and a designer, I felt I was able to do something to help.

I was creating solutions for my own outfits, but wanted to make versatile, adjustable accessories that all pump wearers could use. A good pump accessory should help your pump to 'disappear', which is why I created the Multiway Body Band.

Pump accessory

I launched a website and in May 2015, Diabetes UK approached me about selling my products in the shop. That spurred me on to turn Hid-In into a business, rather than a hobby. I started making pocket panties and boxers, too. I'm very grateful to the charity for giving me the push I needed.

I feel really proud when I get positive feedback from people who wear my products. One lady said she didn’t want to move over to a pump until she saw my website because it helped to normalise it for her.

Others tell me they’ve had diabetes for more than 20 years and that they’ve never been comfortable wearing their pump until now. Knowing you’ve made a difference you make to people’s confidence is an amazing feeling.

In some ways, having Type 1 and the things that have gone with it, like launching have been amazing. I would hesitate to say 'Yes please, fix my pancreas' because of the things I'd lose.

I've been able to channel my experiences of living with diabetes to help others. Creating solutions for people with Type 1 has been my most fulfilling, rewarding and positive project by far.

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