Tomorrow marks 4 years of living with Type 1 Diabetes. On the 25th February 2013 at around 10:30 am I received the phone call that was to change almost every aspect of my life. One phone call and my life has never been the same since.
At the time the news was shattering. I couldn’t comprehend how I was going to cope, how I would handle adjusting my doses for meals, keeping track of blood sugar levels, taking part in sports and injecting myself in public. But 4 years on I can reflect back on what has happened, and see where the real challenges lie.
The weight loss began at the tail end of 2012. It was welcome at first, but then became a little perplexing. I had an appetite like you wouldn’t believe and I craved sweet and sugary treats far more than usual, but still I lost weight.
I noticed the thirst next. I have never been a fan of drinking water, I tend to prefer diluting juice, and I can’t stand fizzy water. However, I was on a course with my work in London for a week and was downing the water like never before. Once the still water had run out I would move on to the sparkling, finishing that bottle too. My thirst was unquenchable.
And what goes hand in hand with drinking a lot? I was visiting the bathroom more times than I care to remember! I would wake in the night to have a drink and visit the loo at least twice.
Finally, on top of all of that, I was exhausted. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Falling asleep on the sofa became the norm, my work was suffering and I was taking frequent naps at the weekend.
It took me nearly 2 months to visit a GP and admit that maybe something was a bit off. I booked an appointment fulling expecting to be told I was anaemic – it wouldn’t have been the first time. Even the doctor didn’t see the red flags and agreed I was likely anaemic and organised some routine blood tests for the following morning.
It was a further 3 days before I received a diagnosis. It is a miracle I was still walking and talking, never mind going to work.
The rest passed in a blur. I escaped without being admitted to hospital, proving that I could test my blood sugars and inject myself. With the promise of a phone call from a nurse the next day I set off home to work out what to do. We haven’t looked back since.
Just like that it has become a part of my life. Never one to settle for less than the best, I have fought every day to maintain the tightest control of my blood sugars that I can. I’m not claiming I’m perfect – in fact I’m far from it. But I can try.
I started carbohydrate counting almost immediately. Despite what many believe, diabetes isn’t about restricting the carbohydrates that you have, but it is important to know what you are putting into your body.
My insulin doses are extremely low, and I have benefitted so much from being on an insulin pump. I was given it in June 2014 and noticed the effects almost immediately. It definitely isn’t the path for every one, but it has given me back my freedom in so many respects.
On the other hand, I am permanently tethered to an item, 24 hours a day. It gets caught on cupboards. There’s nowhere to put it when I’m on the beach. It’s visible – front and centre. If I detach it to go swimming or having a bath I am always watching the clock for how long it has been off for.
You can’t mentally switch off from Type 1 Diabetes. Before I give Piglet his dinner I often automatically think “Oh wait, what is his blood glucose?” and then remember that it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t affect him. And I hope that it never will.
4 years have passed. I still celebrate the day, of sorts, as I don’t like to let it go by unnoticed. It may seem unusual to acknowledge a horrible memory, but it is our way to turning it positive.
Plus – do you really want to turn down an opportunity for cake?
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