It's that time of year again, my diaversary. I was diagnosed on June 21st 2009, I was almost 12 years old. I was 5ft8 and I weighed 7 stone, for weeks undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes was wearing my body down, I was weak, skinny, my limbs felt heavy, I slept for most of the day, drank my body weight in water and it wasn't until we put the thirst and the weight loss together that something clicked, something was wrong, and I was about to be diagnosed with an incurable disease that would leave me dependent on insulin for the rest of my life. Even though the GP stupidly wanted to repeat the fasting blood test "just to be sure" after it came back as 16mmol, and told me to "avoid carbohydrates" as the advice over the weekend, but my mum is smart and knew that we had to get a blood sugar meter, so we did and the day before the blood test was due to be repeated again I ended up in hospital for 3 days, with a blood sugar of 45, where I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
I knew before though, I knew in my gut that I wasn't fine, and that I wasn't going to come out of this without a diagnosis of Type 1, I was 11 but old enough to understand what was happening in my body, and even before I was diagnosed, when I was laying in bed, I said to my mum; "Mummy, do I have diabetes?" and she said no, but we all knew I had it, even if we didn't want to accept it. I don't remember being scared, I remember being relieved to finally have insulin in my body, in fact, there was a girl on the ward with me who was having surgery for appendicitis and I remember thinking "I'm so glad I don't have what she has!" but she left hospital with no lasting effects but a scar, I was about to embark on a whole new way of life...while I was in hospital I learned all about the symptoms of high and low blood sugar because I had no idea what they were, I remember being quizzed on it and getting hypo symptoms mixed up with hyper symptoms..."You can't leave until you get it right!" is what the nurse said to me, I would quickly learn exactly what it felt like to be low, and I would soon learn exactly what it felt like to be high.
Type 1 Diabetes has thrown a lot at me over the past 7 years, and I'm sure it will continue to, but I deal with it just like I always do. It's reduced me to tears, but it's also made me stronger and it's taught me things about myself that I didn't know about, for example who knew I had a knack for public speaking? Not me until Diabetes UK invited me to speak in Parliament for them. Who knew I could write blog posts? Not me until I set up this blog in March 2013. Type 1 Diabetes has meant countless times in hospital, it's meant frustration, it's been sleepless nights, it's been a struggle to keep up with it day in, day out...but it's also meant that I now know a wonderful bunch of people, I've made friendships, I've been to Parliament and it's inspired what I want to do in a career. As much of a pain in the backside a life with Type 1 Diabetes is, I've never let it stop me or get in my way, I continue to live my life, it just takes a little more effort for me. Type 1 Diabetes is a journey of highs and lows, both literally and metaphorically!
My 7th year with Type 1 Diabetes, is my 19th year of life, I was diagnosed as a 12 year old child, I'm now almost 19 years old and classed as an "adult" in many aspects even though I really don't feel like it. I'm now in adult clinic, I left young people's clinic earlier this year and now I have to try and build up trust with the new team and try and build up a relationship with them, I had all that with my old team who were amazing, and now I'm in the process of having my care transitioned over to a whole new hospital, and a whole new group of people. I had to grow up with a disease that set me aside from every one else, however I'm thankful for my friends who would come with me to do my injection at lunchtime, I'm thankful for the fact that none of them ever treated me differently because of it. I'm incredibly thankful every single day for my parents and my family for being my rock through it all, especially my parents because it affects them as much as it affects me, probably a little bit more because of worrying and all, and they are my world!
I'm never going to let Type 1 get the best of me, it's going to give me down days because it's tough, and blood sugar fluctuations make me feel unwell more often than not, and I have a constant routine to upkeep of checking my blood sugar, giving insulin, counting carbohydrates, it all gets a monotonous and I wish I could have a break, It's hard, and a life with Type 1 diabetes doesn't come with out struggle, I know that, but insulin is my lifeline, I'm going to take that lifeline and live my life to the fullest despite the challenges I face. So, 7 years living with Type 1 Diabetes, that's 7 years of finger pricks, of insulin injections, pump site changes, blood tests, hospital visits, hospital admissions, frustration, tears, worry, but above all it's 7 years that have made me, and will continue to make me stronger. I'm always going to raise awareness of this disease, I'm always going to challenge the stereotypes and make sure that people really understand exactly what it is to live with Type 1 Diabetes, from the moment I was diagnosed I vowed to myself that I wasn't going to sit back and do nothing, I was going to make something of it.
I'm a person with Type 1 diabetes, it's not all that I am, I am an advocate, a cat lover, a blogger, an avid photo taker, someone who goes through about 5 million pairs of headphones a year, family oriented, all in all can be a bit lazy, I think the sky is one of the most beautiful things at dusk and dawn and with all that, including the Type 1, I'm me, and I've grown up with Type 1 Diabetes but I haven't let it define me. I've struggled a lot with Type 1 since I was diagnosed, but at this point, 7 years later I think I'm happy with where I am with it.