Monday, 13 January 2014

Being diabetic

2014 is the year that will mark five years with Type one diabetes.
June 21st 2014 to be exact.

As the days, months, weeks, years...go on, the times of a life with out diabetes become distant- the longer I live with diabetes the more it is entwined in my memories. Looking back five years type one diabetes has been there every single step of the way, all through my 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th birthdays, through secondary school, through my GCSEs, through starting A-level, through family holidays...everything. But then again, so have my family and friends- supporting me. At eleven years old not once did I ever think that type one diabetes would grow up with me.

Being diabetic is not easy. It's a disease in which it all falls on your shoulders to try and control it. It is up to the diabetic to carb count, test, inject, record blood sugars, endure highs and lows, it is so much to do every single day but you do your best to get on with it because it is the only choice you have.

Although a time with out type one moves further and further as I grow- it doesn't mean that I will ever forget that it was there in the first place. I was diagnosed at eleven years old, nearly twelve. I lived my life just as every one else around me- my life was not dependent on a vial of liquid in the fridge. Perhaps that's why I have a lot of days where I struggle to do it. Maybe my mind is having trouble letting go of a life that was. Perhaps I subconsciously slip back into five years ago when I was "normal". But I accept that only a cure can make that happen, and I accept type one diabetes. Sometimes I guess my subconscious longing for a sense of normal for me and my parents & family is what makes it harder- then again, it's probably because I'm a teenager. I feel like I was diagnosed at an awkward age...turning twelve, fresh into secondary school, nearly a teenager...I was all over the place. However, I dealt with it and I don't think I complained about being diagnosed because it was something I had to accept, and I did and still do. But sometimes its rough and I don't want to be diabetic anymore, but I always pick my self up off the floor.

I remember (what I know now to be) my first low blood sugar. I think it may have been about a month or a few weeks before I was diagnosed. It was during the last few minutes of an hour long car journey to Clacton that I began to feel "strange". I got out of the car and my legs were so jelly-like I felt as though they were going to give way from underneath me. Once we got inside all I could do was sit down, I had no energy whatsoever and I was ravenous. Lunch rolled around after a few minutes and I ate at lightning speed- within fifteen minutes I was feeling okay again. I never told my mum about it at the time because I didn't think anything of it. I was so un-aware that my body had waged war upon itself and my insulin-producing beta cells would suffer as a result.

I see photos of myself when I was younger and I think "life was so simple back then" and it was. I knew only a life of simplicity like many other children. But it all changed and I never would have guessed. I was diagnosed at an age where I was old enough to "understand" to some extent, what was happening with my body and what had happened. It could no longer produce insulin and I needed to inject myself with insulin and test my blood sugar. I was diagnosed with type one diabetes and I took it in my stride, but I never understood how much of a struggle it could be.

As time drew closer and closer to my diagnosis I almost, "knew" I had diabetes. At eleven years old I was preparing myself for a life with a chronic disease. I recall going onto YouTube and watching videos of people doing their insulin injection and when the day came that I had to do my first one, I already knew how to. One, because my symptoms were so prominent and two, I had a fasting blood sugar test that came back at 16mmols. Believe it or not, that is not what diagnosed me. I went back to school that day as "normal" having been told by my GP to "avoid carbohydrates" for the weekend, until that Monday where he would re-do the test to "be sure". I didn't have much of an idea of what he meant by avoiding carbohydrates, he pretty much left me and my mum in the dark. At school that Friday I tried to, so I switched my Nature Valley cereal bar with an apple. I know now that even the apple required a dose of life-sustaining insulin.

It's safe to say that I didn't last the weekend with out being diagnosed. On that Friday and the years before that, I was not a type one diabetic. On that Sunday and for the rest of my life- I was to be, and am a Type One Diabetic.

I wish I didn't have diabetes- and I wish it never existed but it does. At eleven I found myself coming to terms with an incurable, potentially life-threatening disease that has put me in hospital three times since, is the reason my life depends on a vial of liquid in the fridge, and involves carbohydrate counting, testing my blood sugar, glucose tablets, high and low blood sugar, hospital appointments, sleepless nights...

It's a rocky road with type one, but what is good is that there are times when the road is smooth and the silver lining in the clouds is brighter than ever. Diabetes has changed my life in a bad way, but it is also the reason for some wonderful moments that have come about in my life. Maybe what makes things OK when I struggle- because some good can come out of my struggles with type one- they all make me stronger and make me more determined not to let it beat me. Despite the challenges I face, I am so grateful for the life I have, for my family, my friends, the times I've laughed, the times I smile- which is thankfully, quite a lot. When I'm having a down day with diabetes I look outside, I look at the beauty of the world we live in; the birds, the trees, the sun...nature knows no adversity- it is pure, it is what makes up our world.

I truly believe that one day I will say I used to have type one diabetes, but for now...it is one step at a time.

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