Glen Innes Public School rallies round pupil

It’s a roller coaster of sugar levels. It’s about managing it and juggling it.

Audrey Ratliff.

Ainsley Ratliff has a beautiful, wise smile. She understands the way the human body works like an expert.

That’s because at the age of two, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes where the pancreas doesn’t create the amount of insulin the body needs.

The symptoms were an intense thirst so her parents to sought medical advice – and learnt their daughter had Type 1 diabetes. If left untreated, it results in extreme thirst, constant hunger, sudden weight loss, nausea and extreme tiredness. 

Now, nine years later, Ainsley said she has to continually monitor her blood. She wears a pump attached to her body with which can increase the level of insulin.

Her mother, Audrey Ratliff, said: “It’s a roller coaster of sugar levels. It’s about managing it and juggling it”.

If Ainsley is going to eat a particular sweet food like chocolate, she studies the packet to see how much carbohydrate is in the treat, and then works out how much insulin she will need. If her body has too much sugar in the blood, she needs insulin; if it has too little, she needs sugar.

Some diabetics need to inject insulin with a syringe and needle. Ainsley doesn’t – she has the pump permanently on her body. 

She has a very supportive school and on Tuesday (World Diabetes Day) they organised a spectacular and moving gesture of support – a circle about fifty metres in diameter with Ainsley in the middle.

The aim was moral support but also financial support for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for which they raised $620.

Ainsley’s parents, Phil and Audrey, had nothing but praise for Rosh Mercer, the teacher behind the venture.

To talk to Ainsley (who is not yet a teenager) is to be impressed by her equanimity, good nature, charm and sheer intelligence. 

She says she accepts the situation (after all she can do nothing about it) and is clearly trying to understand it. 

Already, she has scientific understanding way beyond her years. 

So what does she want to be when she grows up? In fashion, she said. She may change her mind.