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Otto Josef Zagala National Diabetes Week Interview

Otto Josef Zagala National Diabetes Week Interview

National Diabetes Week 2017: Diabetes is an invisible condition


National Diabetes Week is celebrated in the second week of July each year. It is an opportunity to raise awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and its prevalence in Australia. This year, National Diabetes Week is from Sunday 9 July to Saturday 15 July.


Interview with Otto Josef Zagala

Question: Can you share your diabetes story?

Otto Josef Zagala: When I was nine years old, almost ten, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The week before my mum took me to hospital I'd had gastro; I was feeling very run down, tired and thirsty; also, I needed to go to the toilet a lot. We had gone up to the Dandenongs for the Ukelele Festival and ordinarily I'd be pretty excited about attending such an event, but on this occasion I was feeling really weird and drowsy and then my vision became blurred. We went to the hospital right away at that point. It was at hospital, while waiting to see a doctor; I was given a blood test. That was the first finger prick of many! I was diagnosed on the spot really, admitted, and my mum and I didn't go home for another three days. We don't know why I developed type 1 diabetes but apparently it can be triggered by a virus. I blame the gastro!

Question: How old were you when you developed type 1 diabetes?

Otto Josef Zagala: Almost ten.

Question: How does diabetes affect you on a daily basis?

Otto Josef Zagala: Anything you can do I can do - I just have to factor in another step or two. That step includes: injecting with insulin four times a day, checking my blood glucose with a finger pricker five times a day (all going well!) and keeping an eye on what I'm eating.

Question: How has your life changed since you developed type 1 diabetes?

Otto Josef Zagala: A lot. There's a lot to remember but at the same time after two years it feels normal. I've unintentionally become attuned to aspects of people's lives, like anything could be happening under the surface and you could be completely unaware. It's given me that insight, I guess. And I don't take as much for granted. I had to grow up really quickly.

Question: What is it like living with diabetes as a pre-teen?

Otto Josef Zagala: Life as a twelve year old: I go to school, play the drums, perform in a ukelele orchestra and listen to a lot of Podcasts. So living with diabetes is like a bit of a headache really. It doesn't stop me, it just slows me down.

Question: What message do you hope to spread this National Diabetes Week 2017?

Otto Josef Zagala: As the campaign suggests it's too important to ignore. It's a chronic disease that people really need to understand better.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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