Tuesday, 20 June 2017

8 years

Dear past Ellie, Ellie from June 20th 2009 to be precise, it's future Ellie here, talking to you 8 years later. Tomorrow will be June 21st 2009, you're going to be doing the Race For Life for the first time, you're not feeling 100% but you know you'll give it your all. You'll finish the race and eat a cereal bar and you'll go home. You won't be thinking about the fact that just days earlier you had a blood test that showed your fasting blood glucose was 16mmol...because the GP told you he wanted to double-check...so it was fine, right? But you'll still go home to the blood sugar meter mum bought for you to keep an eye on things because thankfully she knew the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, and deep down you'll both know that the fasting blood test wasn't wrong. That blood sugar meter will show a blood sugar reading that was off the scale at "HI" and you'll be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in A&E that same day. You're eleven years old.

Months of symptoms means your diagnosis will be a relief in some sense, at eleven years old you're old enough to understand what's happening and just a few days before told yourself that you just needed insulin and you will be fine. You stopped growing, you lost weight and at your height you shouldn't weigh 6 and a half stone. Before being diagnosed all you did was sleep, and wonder why you felt the way you did. You'll leave hospital three days after being diagnosed, equipped with everything you'll need to now stay alive, you'll take it in your stride and you'll go back to school and settle into life with Type 1 Diabetes. For the first few weeks you'll find yourself very aware of your own mortality, and you'll realise you're not invincible, but you'll be grateful that you can live a relatively normal life despite the diagnosis.

Most of the time it will be fine, you'll feel in control and you'll feel okay. But you won't know that the first few years will be an especially hard feat, your HbA1c will stay in the teens and you will prefer to ignore your diabetes rather than deal with it. You'll know you're not in denial, but you'll know you'd prefer not to have Type 1, you will remember the days without it. The hard times will show you how lucky you are to have the support that you have from your friends and family, and your diabetes team, you'll find your feet eventually, but not before becoming very familiar with the phrase "diabetes burnout" and realising you're well and truly stuck there.

In August 2012 you'll make a Twitter profile, and you'll encounter lots of other people living with Type 1 Diabetes but you won't properly engage with them until March 2013, when you start your blog. You started it to rant and vent your feelings about living with Type 1 Diabetes, but people will start to read it and it will be the spur you need to find motivation and start living properly again. Eventually you'll see a HbA1c back in single figures and your consultant will high five you, aware of what it's taken you to get there. It won't always be easy and diabetes burnout will still linger, making sporadic appearances, but it will be pushed to the back of your mind through all the amazing experiences you'll have due to being an ambassador for Type 1 and "embracing" your diagnosis.

In 2013 you'll speak in Parliament for the first time, on behalf of Diabetes UK and in 2014 you'll speak in Parliament for the second time, on behalf of JDRF. You'll realise that you're one of the very few people who don't mind speaking in public and later in 2014 you'll make use of that blessing again and speak for JDRF again at one of their charity galas. You'll learn that you have the ability to do something about being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, you'll be determined and you'll be a voice for other young people and people with Type 1. March 2016 will see you fly to Glasgow to be a professional blogger for Diabetes UK and in October 2016 you'll be invited to celebrate 30 years of progress with JDRF and you'll present flowers to HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.

Type 1 Diabetes will bring you frustration and tears and lots of moments where you'll wonder why you were dealt the cards that you were, these times will be especially prominent when you have to go to A&E because of Diabetic ketoacidosis or when you're awake in the middle of the night treating a low blood sugar or feeling that ache in your muscles you'll get when your blood sugar is high. What you won't know when you're diagnosed tomorrow on June 21st 2009 though is that you'll do amazing things and you'll be proud of what you've achieved and understand that you were diagnosed for a reason, and deciding to create your blog and deciding to raise awareness and be an ambassador will be one of the best decisions you'll make.

In fact, in eight years you'll be standing next to a canal in Amsterdam with other diabetic people taking photos and pondering how you got there and realising how crazy it is that Type 1 Diabetes brought you all together. You'll make new friends, new connections and you'll have a sense of fulfillment and you'll live your life with Type 1 alongside you and it will become your routine, like brushing your teeth...like breathing.

Tomorrow will be June 21st 2017, and you've lived with Type 1 Diabetes for eight years.


1 comment:

  1. Well June 21 is a good day to be Dx'd. I mean if you have to be Dx'd at all. I was released from the hospital on June 21, 1974. I was actually Dx'd the week before while at Disney world Florida. But i picked June 21 as my date so I would always remember it. See the other good reason to celebrate June 21 is that it is my birthday. LOL

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