National & International

TikTok duo spark conversation about diabetes

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According to BBC News, best friends Ellen Watson and Beth McDaniel, from Banbridge, County Down, posted a TikTok video of themselves getting ready and glammed up for a night out. The two girls had no idea they were about to become a viral sensation.

Overnight, a video of them dancing around achieved 500,000 views – this was not because of their outfits or their before-and-after hair and make-up transformation, but because the Northern Irish students confidently showcased their wearable blood glucose scanners which help them manage their type 1 diabetes.

Instead of concealing the small white discs under their clothing as many fellow type 1 diabetics do. Beth and Ellen displayed them on their bare arms and danced and embraced it.

The video spurred them on into becoming the popular duo, known as Diabetic Duo.

“It’s just been crazy,” Ellen, 19, told the BBC Ouch podcast. “I think it was because people had seen it and they were tagging their diabetic friends going: ‘Isn’t this what you have in your arm?’.

“Even non-diabetic people were commenting: ‘What is this? Why do you have this in your arm?’ So it did cause a lot of conversation.”

Image source: DIABETIC DUO

The scanners Beth and Ellen wear help them to track their blood sugar levels by taking glucose readings from interstitial fluid – a thin layer of fluid that surrounds the cells of the tissues below the skin. Those readings can be scanned using a mobile phone and the results can be shared with any relevant people that need to know.

It is an alternative to the more traditional finger-prick test which relies on drawing blood, which can be painful and can numb the fingers.

Diabetics that wear the monitors often hide them under their clothing because they prefer to manage their condition discreetly but Beth and Ellen choose to be open about it on the social media site, TikTok, mostly known for videos which last just a few seconds.

The majority of clips on the social media platform feature lip-synching to pop videos, people dancing or doing prank videos – so the duo have to be creative when it comes to getting a medical condition such as Diabetes across in an engaging way.

As well as enjoying their moment in the spotlight, the duo find comfort in being able to take a light-hearted look at a serious illness.

Photo: BBC News

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