When SportsCare Partner Louise Roantree became unwell at the age of 12 in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve of 1993, the last thing she or her family expected was a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Notwithstanding her young age, even in her first days as a diagnosed diabetic, Louise never felt fearful. She saw the diagnosis as an opportunity to accept a new challenge and learn to live life with diabetes. 29 years on, Louise actively manages her diabetes every day with a healthy lifestyle and proactive mindset.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that impacts around 1.8 million Australians and is the fastest-growing chronic condition in the country. There are three main types of diabetes; Type 1, which is often genetic and appears early in life, Type 2, which is largely caused by lifestyle choices and is developed over time, and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy. Diabetes impacts the body’s ability to create insulin, a hormone naturally created by the pancreas that allows the body to use sugar for energy.
While there is no known cure for diabetes, diabetics can lead active and enjoyable lives by learning how to effectively manage their condition.
When clients observe Louise’s Continuous Glucose Monitoring (GCM) device on her arm, they are often surprised to discover she is a diabetic. Louise is constantly on the move and on her feet as a health professional. Her continued awareness of her body and proactive diabetes management has not only taught her about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to manage her diabetes but also how to prevent comorbidities and lifestyle health-related conditions.
“Chronic disease management is not always easy and forces you to learn about your own limitations and how to adapt to achieve your goals”, says Louise. Her open mindset and personal experiences have aided Louise in her physiotherapy career, with the approach at SportsCare geared towards ensuring all clients receive tailored and individualised care and strategies that factor in their unique goals and outcomes.
Louise aims to be an inspiring and healthy role model for those managing diabetes and other chronic conditions. Her lived experience of managing a chronic condition has made Louise acutely aware of the importance of treating clients who live with chronic conditions as individuals with different health goals and unique pathways to get there. Something that has previously frustrated Louise throughout her diabetes experience has been the traditional notion that ‘one-size-fits-all’ with health advice and management methods. For Louise, living with a chronic condition has emphasised the importance of acknowledging that not one health journey is the same, and that individual needs need to be considered to get the best results.
As chronic disease management is continuous, it requires a level of self-awareness and provides insights into the intricacies of managing a chronic disease, says Louise. Fortunately, diabetes technology has come a long way since Louise’s initial diagnosis, making it easier for Louise to monitor her blood sugar throughout the day using an app on her phone.
Every day, Louise ensures that her diabetes diagnosis does not define her. A diabetes diagnosis is not the end of the world, “you can do so many things, it may differ from what was initially anticipated, but you can live a full life”, says Louise.
In addition to her professional achievements as a Physiotherapist, Louise is a former Dragon Boat athlete with 2 bronze medals under her (team’s) belt. Whether she is competing in the Dragon Boat World Cup Championships, trekking for 20 days on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal or balancing the work-mum life, Louise continues to be a role model on perseverance, adaptability, and resilience.