Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Living with type one diabetes

What is it like being a type one diabetic? I can tell you it is not easy. It is something that you will not understand unless you are type one diabetic yourself. Type one diabetes follows me everywhere, it requires constant attention 24/7 365 days a year, it requires daily injections of insulin and/or infusion of insulin via an insulin pump- in conjunction with multiple daily finger pricks to ensure that my blood sugar is at a safe range. Type one diabetes is different to type two diabetes, my body does not produce insulin, a type two diabetic’s body cannot utilise the insulin that their body produces.
There is no known cause for type one diabetes; all that is known is that the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and destroys them. And no, it is not caused by eating too much sugar. Without insulin, a person will die. My body cannot keep my blood sugar stable, and this is very dangerous. High blood sugar and low blood sugar are something that have become integrated in my day to day life- shaking, feeling thirsty, feeling tired, weak…exhausted, are all feelings I am all too familiar with. The line between being perfectly ok and being dangerously ill is a very fine one.  High and low blood sugars are treatable if caught early enough; but both can lead to a coma and/or death if left untreated.

I have been hospitalised three times since my diagnosis due to my blood sugar being too high, not including the three days I spent in hospital when I first heard the words “there is no doubt you have type one diabetes”. June 21st 2009 was the day that my life changed forever; it was the day that my life was thrown into my own hands. It was the day that I had to begin learning how to keep myself alive, at just eleven years old. That is an incredible weight to bear; I was old enough to understand my life was going to be different, but too young to understand exactly how it would be.
Type one diabetes has stripped me of my care-free life; I have had to grow up way before my time. It is hard to keep up with all the blood sugar testing and giving insulin and counting the carbohydrate in my food- it is not the way I lived for the first eleven years of my life. Now I miss some days off of school for hospital appointments, and even a simple cold could mean a hospital admission. It is a constant balancing act.

Type one diabetes has its immediate complications, but that’s not all. Long-term effects of type one diabetes include blindness, heart disease, limb amputation, kidney failure, neuropathy and hardening of the arteries. The very last thing I do when I go to bed at night is test my blood sugar to make sure it is not too low or high so that I actually wake up every morning.

Ever since I was diagnosed I have been determined not to let it get me down and to raise awareness of this disease, type one diabetes has made me stronger and has made me realise that you never truly appreciate how precious your life is until something threatens to take it away. Although I go through what I do I still achieve things in my life, I do well at school, I have a wonderful family and supportive friends, and I smile every day because I am living my life.

I have had my fair share of ups and downs and will continue to do so, worry, fear, pain and not feeling so great will always be a part of my life until a cure is found, but I will experience happiness when I have good blood sugars and I also love my life. I know life could be worse and I am doing my best to raise as much awareness of type one diabetes as possible.

I am a teenager with type one diabetes, but I want people to know just what it takes to live with type one diabetes.

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