Carrie Hetherington’s interview with Taylor, a 19 year old America expat living in Singapore.
Hi Taylor! Let’s start off with your age and how long you’ve had diabetes for and can you tell everyone where you’ve lived?
Sure! Okay so I am 19 years old and have had diabetes for 4 years! I have lived in Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Singapore, Wisconsin and I’m about to go to University in Illinois (Chicago area).
Wow that’s a lot of moving around! What was it like being diabetic in Singapore?
It was difficult! The care was horrible where I lived, and the diabetes education is not at all on par! They also offered no pumps/modern technology!
And did you find there was much stigma from people?
Aside from the lack of care, I found that people just knew absolutely nothing about it. There wasn’t any stigma though, people are generally very nice
How long did you live there for?
I lived there for 5 years, which is a large chunk of my life, but I loved it.
And you’re practically a pro basketballer! So how do you manage your BGs for competitions?
So I check about an hour before hand, then immediately before I go on court and perhaps once during the game. I’m on the court most of the time but I just try to manage it as much as possible.
Have you ever had a low on court? Or been ridiculously high?
Actually no horrible lows, which is very lucky, and probably because I check before I go on- but yes I have been really high and still played even though I shouldn’t have haha! I bet everyone reading this has done it before too.
Can you sub off if you have a low – and did your coach know you had diabetes?
Oh yes, my coach and team were really aware of my diabetes so if I ever felt bad I could come out and test or eat without it being a problem.
I’ve also heard that you’ve travelled around quite a bit for basketball competitions?
Yes! We played a tournament against other schools for the South East Asia Cup taking 3rd place, then we had a tournament in Indonesia and we also played in two leagues during the school year against other international schools in Singapore!
Do you have any trips for travellers with diabetes? Did you ever have any problems flying around in Asia?
I don’t have any extra special tips, just make sure you get some snacks on the other side of customs to take on the plane, something to treat your hypos, and of course take your insulin pump or pens and backups. Put some back-up things in your hand luggage like lancets, ketone strips, or spare batteries for your meter. You don’t want to be stuck on a 12 hour flight and have your meter battery go flat.
I have really only had issues flying to the US, sometimes they’d take my snacks or ask me about my syringes!! Japan was also a little awkward, I took juice out waiting at customs.
And one last little question about living in Singapore – did you have to learn to say that you were diabetic in Mandarin?
I never had to! Luckily all the doctors, and most people, spoke English. Which is a relief because it’s a really hard language.
(for anyone travelling there, this is how you say it – ‘wo you tang niao bing’)
Thank you for talking to us Taylor! Have a great time at University in Chicago!