I guess you might wish to know a little bit about me.
I am in my late twenties, and was diagnosed at the fairly late age of 21 – sadly late enough for me to have experienced the joys of a Topic bar and a Crunchie or five….
I was lucky really, when I was diagnosed I had not developed any of the horrendous symptoms of weight loss (damnit!) or any major complications or DKAs. I knew it was coming, or was pretty sure it was coming anyway.
Let’s rewind a little. When I was 14, my sister had the equal misfortune of being diagnosed with Type 1. She was 16. She experienced the weight loss (in fact when she was really ill she was talent scouted by Storm Models Management – what does that tell you about the health of the fashion industry!?), and having been told by our GP that the reason her periods had stopped was because she clearly wasn’t eating enough, and that must go home and eat six meals a day including as much chocolate and sugary food as possible, her sugar levels promptly spiked to ridiculous levels and she was rushed off to hospital by my terrified mother.
When I was 18, I travelled around the world with my best friend. Three and a half months into our four month adventure, I could not wake up and certainly couldn’t get out of my top level bunk bed in a scuzzy hostel in the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand. My friend tried to keep me hydrated and fed, but all I could do was sleep and crawl to the loo. Eventually, after seeing that my tongue was totally white and crusty (never the sexiest look by the way), she took me to the docs and they rushed me off to hospital with suspected diabetes, particularly as soon as they heard about my sis having it.
It turns out that I didn’t have diabetes, I think I had what is now called ‘pre-diabetes’. Essentially I had the antibodies attacking my beta cells in the isles of Langerhans, but it had not developed into full blown diabetes yet and it may never – if only!!
Two years later, in the midst of second year university exams and a dying grandfather, like winter, the symptoms were coming. Excessive thirst and urination. It was ridiculous, I was peeing about 5 times in an hour a half! I checked my blood sugar with a finger prick meter that my sister had given me. My levels were 21 or so. So I went to my docs, he was a little old-school, he told me that he couldn’t prove that I was diabetic and I must be paranoid so sent me home. FOUR TIMES. It took me a month of going back to him and his partner to convince them that I needed a referral to the hospital. Once there, I was diagnosed in an afternoon, they checked I could physically inject myself, and sent me home with all the gear and seriously no idea. It was like having a toddler in charge of an operating theatre (am I being a little melodramatic?!).
All I can say is THANK GAWD FOR MY SISTER.
I don’t know about the rest of you Type 1ers, but we often feel like we are muddling our way through in the dark. Slowly, I feel like I am getting a grip of my levels and understanding how best to manage my control, but my god it’s hard! Are we the only ones?
I was diagnosed at 13:10 on the 6th February 2009.
I started on the pens, injecting twice a day as well as every time I so much as glanced at carbohydrate filled foods (most things then). Last year I moved on to the insulin pump. It took me years to come around to the idea. I think it is because I was self-conscious about having a piece of machinery strapped to my body at all times. I was (am) a single girl in my twenties and quite frankly, I want to be sexy. I was worried what new boyfriends might think. An ex-boyfriend used to call me ‘bionic’, and not in the weird Ann Summers kinda way. I know it was meant as a term of endearment but it just made me feel like I wasn’t a proper person. Anyway, I finally decided to take the plunge and get the pump, maybe age and a slowly dawning maturity of thinking made me realise that this can help my quality of life and perhaps the men that are put off by a tiny pump and a sticker on my tummy are not the men I should be aiming for anyway?!
The pump has certainly improved my diabetes no question. If my memory was not such a massive sieve, I would tell you what my HBA1c’s changed to, but I can’t remember anything more than being really, really, pleased.
I am now also using a continuous glucose monitor which has revolutionised my knowledge on the subject even more. I will be writing a blog about this soon so stay tuned…
In the past 8 years I have tried to live as awesome a life as possible, spending two years living in a garden shed in the middle of the desert in Botswana, travelling to numerous countries around the world and going through a fair few ‘eat my feelings’ episodes (less awesome). However, as grateful as I am that diabetes is ‘manageable’ and as aware as I am of how it could be so so so much worse, managing a normal, adventurous life isn’t easy with Type 1 Diabetes. And I certainly have not succeeded! The severe DKA I had last New Year’s Eve is a testament to that.
Essentially, this brings me to now.
I hope that from this day forward my diabetes care will only improve, and my diet too, because I am almost certain that Nutella is not among your five-a-day.
So join me if you want to, on my epic, terrifying journey to kick the sugar addiction and get my levels sorted. I hope that I may bring some joy or comfort to someone along the way.
Lots of love,