Type 1 Diabetes and my Feelings about Food

I absolutely love food.  I know everyone says they love food but it really is an interest/hobby of mine.  Going to a restaurant I’ve never tried before excites me; I love the challenge of testing out a new recipe; my holiday itineraries are based around places I want to eat; in book shops I love to browse through the cookbook section; baking a cake or a loaf of bread is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon for me and my favourite TV shows include Masterchef and GBBO.  I’m obsessed.

However, when you have type 1 diabetes, there are more things to consider than which takeaway to try out on a Saturday night or how much your dough has risen…
You need to think about exactly how many grams of carbohydrate are in what you are eating to calculate a precise amount of insulin to give yourself, to avoid high or low blood sugars.  But aside from the carb content itself, you also need to think about protein levels if you’re having little or no carbs, fat content which can make blood glucose rise more slowly; whether carbs are simple or complex or the glycemic index.  When you start to think about all these factors, it can take the enjoyment out of food and make it feel quite stressful.

I’m an all or nothing kinda gal, as in the type who goes to the gym every second day for a fortnight then I have to miss one class for an appointment or something, and I don’t go back for 3 months… Stupid, I know.  This is an attitude I really need to work on changing, any suggestions welcome!  But this means I’ll spend about a week putting 110% effort into my carb counting and insulin ratios, weighing out all my food, keeping a food diary, reviewing my blood sugars and trying to spot patterns and make adjustments.  This approach works (to a degree, at least – there will always be outlying factors e.g. stress caused by a traffic jam; unplanned exercise in the form of having to lug boxes up and down the stairs at work; or sweating on a hot day) but it’s exhausting and takes a lot of time and mental effort.  Then, when I get thrown off by a busy day in work or a birthday night out, or if I get discouraged by some unexpected highs or hypos, I give up.  I take it so personally, consider myself a failure and ditch the diary.
When I give up, I feel as though I can really enjoy my food again, not put too much thought into the nutritional make up of it and still take an injection that roughly covers the carbs at a glance and a guess.  However, this comes at a price.  The price is guilt and regret.  After every meal or snack, I feel that horrible knot in my stomach.  This does not help my anxiety and in a different, more indirect way, it takes the enjoyment away from eating, just as the intensive carb counting is.

The other thing I have little self control with, and therefore more guilt, is grazing.  I like to snack between meals.  I feel peckish when I get in from work and like to have a packet of crisps or a banana at 4, followed by a meal at 6 and then a cup of tea with some chocolate at 9.  If someone has brought a packet of sweets into work, I can’t see them lying on the desk without picking up a few.  When controlling blood sugar with insulin based on carb counting, you should really have 3-4 hours between food.  This constant grazing makes it very difficult to get a true blood sugar reading and means that your blood sugar will never properly settle between food, making it difficult to see if a correction dose is needed or not.  With this comes more food related guilt.

It is important to say that I have never had an eating disorder, or considered my diabetes monitoring, carb counting or eating practices to be unhealthily obsessive.  However, it is easy to see how people with diabetes commonly develop eating disorders, and how it is difficult to overcome this and still look after their diabetes in recovery from an eating disorder- particularly when insulin can also make you gain weight.  There are very little stats on how common eating disorders are in PWD but it is very serious due to the fact it can lead to complications such as blindness, kidney failure and neuropathy.

So how do we create a healthy balance?  A balance of monitoring blood sugars regularly, counting the carbohydrates we eat, as well as considering other contributing factors but also not letting this take over our lives, or beating ourselves up over one ‘bad’ blood sugar reading or one meal where we’ve taken a wild guess at the carb content?
My honest answer is, I don’t know, as I haven’t found that balance yet.  At the moment, I am trying to remember that, as Kerri Sparling says, in her book Balancing Diabetes, “life with diabetes is not a perfect science and perfect diabetes isn’t an achievable goal”.  As long as I’m testing my blood sugar when I should, I’m doing a good job and the sooner I realise no one is ‘perfect’, the sooner I’ll be able to cope with my day to day life.  I’m trying to use each blood sugar as information like Kerri suggests, information to work on and lead to a healthier me.  I hope that over time, I can learn to stop attaching emotions to my blood sugar readings and that with this I will find more peace around food, and less anxiety in general.  I feel I could go on and on here, but maybe emotions in relation to blood sugar readings, is one for a future blog post… 🙂

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Blame and Diabetes

Someone asking “Is that the type you get from eating too much sugar?”, #diabeteshereicome on an Instagram picture of a doughnut or a news report referring to “obesity, which can lead to heart disease, strokes or diabetes”…  I don’t know if I could choose which annoys me most.

If you know me, or if you follow me on any social media platform, you probably know that it infuriates me when people are ignorant about the difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes.  And if you don’t know that difference, let’s clear it up…

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.  This is when your body’s immune system attacks something in your body which is not an illness or infection, something which it is not supposed to attack, in this case, your beta cells.  These are cells which measure your blood glucose levels and produce insulin (along with some other hormones) to control this.  When these cells are attacked, your body cannot produce insulin and therefore cannot convert glucose into energy.  This commonly happens in childhood or adolescence but can also happen in adulthood.  It is not clear what causes this to happen, theories include viruses or childhood trauma.  This is the type of diabetes I have and it can only be controlled using insulin, and is also referred to as insulin dependent diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is more common, accounting for around 90% of diabetes cases.  Unlike in type 1, your body still produces insulin and can be considered a progressive illness rather than an autoimmune disease.  Some people do not like to class it as this as you can sometimes slow down or stop it’s progression.  Type 2 will start with insulin resistance where your body cannot use the insulin it is producing effectively.  This can be hereditary or caused by lifestyle.  Lack of exercise, ageing, hormones, certain medications, and most commonly weight gain can lead to insulin resistance.  If you are insulin resistant, and your pancreas cannot make enough insulin to deal with this, you will develop type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 can be controlled through diet, exercise, tablets and insulin depending on the individual and what stage it is at.

Halle Berry is evil personified in the type 1 community after being misdiagnosed as type 1, when she was actually type 2 and claiming in the media that she “weaned herself off” of insulin through diet and exercise.  This is NOT POSSIBLE for type 1 diabetics, and it cannot be cured with cinammon, herbs or a breakthrough pill.  blog

At this stage, it is worth mentioning, there are some other types of diabetes such as gestational diabetes and LADA.  Type 1 and type 2 are the two most common types.

 

So some people don’t see any harm in stating that an unhealthy lifestyle “can lead to diabetes” – Matthew Wright, most channel 4 documentaries and disappointingly, some of my family members included, and I can see why you might not see the problem unless you live with it every day.  It is true that unhealthy habits can lead to type 2 diabetes, along with other conditions such as heart disease, cancer or strokes and I do see the importance of highlighting this, to try to encourage people to be healthy.  But for me, the importance of referring to which type you mean is huge.  The general public think of “diabetes” as a fat person’s disease, something to be joked about on Saturday Night Live.  Now you might say, “lighten up”, “take a joke”,  but to me this public ignorance is a big part of why we do not receive the funding we deserve.  You often see headlines about how much of a drain diabetes is on the NHS, a problem costing the tax payer money all because I ate too many chocolate bars when I was a child… this isn’t the case.  I didn’t do anything (or not do anything) which led to my my diabetes and it is a serious illness.  Every time you caption a Krispy Kreme photo with a joke about diabetes, you reinforce the stereotype and you cause me another wrinkle!

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#T1DLooksLikeMe #ThisIsWhatDiabetesLooksLike  I’m not overweight and never have been but I think for some people when they think of someone with diabetes, they automatically think of someone overweight.

There has been a lot of debate in the diabetes community about changing the names of type 1 and 2 diabetes.  I used to think this was a great idea and would stop me from getting tarnished with the fat brush.  I have changed my mind now and think that if the media and general public can’t differentiate between the two types at the moment, what chance is there that they’ll understand a name change.  I also don’t agree with a big divide between people with T1 and T2 diabetes… people with type 2 get a hard time too!  Firstly, not all type 2 is caused by lifestyle.  There are other causes, particularly genetics.  And while we’re on this topic… it is not a direct link between sugar and type 2 diabetes.  It is carrying extra weight which causes insulin resistance, whether this extra weight comes from eating Nutella with a spoon, or a daily fry up for breakfast!

Secondly, even if your lifestyle did ’cause’ your illness, do you really deserve such a hard time for it?  You’re living with something day in, day out which has a huge impact on your health.  If you have done something to lead to that, I’m sure you know it and regret it already, you don’t need someone who has no idea what you are going through judging you for it.  Other illness can be caused by lifestyle and in my opinion, are not penalised for it.  For example, cancer can be caused by smoking , eating too much processed food or red meat, or lack of physical inactivity.  Yet cancer is not often joked about (occasionally is, by some sick people), patients are not judged for having caused their illness (and neither they should be) and people generally have more sympathy.  I am not asking people to feel sorry for people with diabetes, I am just asking people to take it more seriously, differentiate between type 1 and 2 and stop placing the blame on us!

If you’re anything like me, you will constantly be blaming yourself every time your blood sugar is too high, every time your HbA1c is off target, every time you over-treat a low blood sugar and end up riding that rollercoaster, every time you are late in phoning in for a prescription and every time you run out of hypo treatments on the go.  This is horrible to live with, completely exhausting on your mental health and so the moral of this blog post is…

Be nice to diabetics, they put up with enough pricks already

 

 

 

 

Diabetes Diary: Jan 2017

I’m thinking to do a post like this, maybe 3 monthly, to keep a log (or a blog, if you will) of how everything diabetes related is going.  This one may be a bit lengthier, since I’ve not blogged in such a long time but here goes…

Update

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DAFNE – In November 2015, I completed the week long “DAFNE” course (dose adjustment for normal eating) – a structured education course about all things insulin related.  I had been on and off the waiting list for this course for years, with some doctors thinking it was exactly what I needed, others thinking I ‘wasn’t ready’.  The course really inspired me and I might do a post about DAFNE alone.  However, I have to say, it hasn’t changed my blood sugars, health or wellbeing.  This is not because the course is no good – if you’re in the right place, it could work wonders – it is because of my mental health and motivation that I’m still struggling.

Breakdown – At the last clinic I went to (July 2016) I decided to be honest and admit how much I was struggling in the hope to referred for counselling.  I tried to explain how I was feeling to the doctor but as soon as I started, I burst out crying and couldn’t stop!  I think the doctor felt a bit awkward and passed me on to one of the nurses, Gillian, saying she was “very sympathetic”.  She has type 1 diabetes herself and is a brilliant nurse.  She sat with me and listened and understood how I was feeling.  She agreed to help which leads me on to my next point…

Nurses – The DSNs (diabetes specialist nurses) have been amazing.  Pauline and Cath who did our DAFNE course are always on the other end of the phone and Gillian has been supporting me via phone and email ever since me getting upset at clinic.  I was completing diaries for her and she was helping me tweak my insulin.  This is so helpful of them and I am hugely grateful.

Positives

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Think Like A Pancreas – I started reading this book a few weeks ago and although I haven’t nearly finished it yet, I would definitely recommend it.  It’s full of interesting information and keeping me engaged with my diabetes, which is something I find challenging.

New meter – Oh. My. God.   I have a new meter and it is AMAZING.  It’s the Contour NEXT ONE and it links via Bluetooth to an app on your phone.  I had the previous Contour Next meter and really liked the size, style and ease of use.  It could plug into the computer via USB but, in all honesty, the first time I tried to do that, I didn’t set it up properly and never used it again, so only used the USB to charge it up which was a really handy feature.
The new meter doesn’t have the USB port so uses batteries instead but meter batteries last forever and a day, so it’s not too much of an issue.
The main advantage is the app and automatically having a diary on your phone without inputting the BGs!  I love it.  I have only been using it for two days so don’t have a lot of data to show you but I have put in the screenshots to illustrate.
You can set your own targets, add your insulin doses, food you’ve eaten and carb content, exercise, notes etc.  You can also send the diaries via email which is a great feature and add in appointments, HbA1c info and much more.  It’s a game changer.
It also creates graphs from your readings and (a favourite feature of mine) the meter itself, has a light which appears red if you’re low, green if you’re on target and yellow if you’re high.

 

DAFNE catch up – The best bit of the DAFNE course was undoubtedly meeting like minded people.  We are now in a Whatsapp group so you can get support or advice from them all the time.  We also catch up at both DAFNE follow ups and our own (usually boozy) get togethers.  Our next is scheduled for February and they’re great for a rant and a moan!

Negatives

Nightshifts – I work as a support worker in emergency accommodation, for homeless men, which poses many challenges, included diabetes related ones!  I don’t work nightshifts as part of my contract, but recently have been doing some to cover as we were short staffed and for some extra money.  I won’t be making a habit of them anyway but the main downside of them was not the sleeping pattern, or trying to stay awake at 3am… it was the crazy blood sugars the next day.  I wasn’t doing them for long enough in a row to change ratios or background doses so I had a bit of a rollercoaster and many unexplained highs after them.  If I was working them regularly, I’m sure I’d find a way but for the odd one it played havoc.

Exercise – Like everyone at this time of year, I’m trying to exercise a bit more.  The most frustrating thing is thinking you’ve had a super healthy start to your day, then testing your blood sugar, to find out your body has had the most unhealthy reaction.  The other day I went to Metafit for the first time… I woke up at 9.2mmol, had cereal for breakfast, carb counted did my injections, went to the gym, then a few hours later I was 20.5mmol!! So infuriating.  One of my DAFNE pals said she avoids exercising in the morning where possible and if she does, takes insulin and no breakfast.  For me, this isn’t very workable.  I usually go to gym classes around 10am before I’m working a backshift, so need to eat before, and whenever I plan to exercise in the evening, I always manage to talk myself out of it through the day!  Back to the DAFNE textbook to find a solution….

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Prescriptions – I have been so disorganised recently and keep running out of test strips/needles before my prescription is ready.  I need to get a grip – simple as that!

HbA1c

At my last clinic in my A1c had come down slightly but is still too high.   I can’t remember what it was but I think roughly 9% (or 75 mmol/mol) – this is an average BG of around 12mmol.  I’ll update this post when I find out exactly what it was and plan to blog them on here after each clinic.

To Do

Counselling – This has been on the list for quite a long time.  I think the root of most of my diabetes issues are mental health related.  I have been to the GP about this before and also hoped to be offered counselling at my last clinic, neither of which have come to anything.  So my aim at the moment is definitely to source some counselling.  Maybe from the Tom Allan Centre, in Glasgow.

BG diary – This is always on my to do list, to keep a blood sugar diary.  With my new app, I think it might be manageable.  Over the next few months, I’m aiming to keep on top of it and log my carbs and doses on the app.

MyDiabetesMyWay – I have been meaning to sign up to this website for years but keep forgetting to get a doctor to sign a form for me to allow me to register. This website, available in Scotland, allows you to track your A1cs, notes etc.  The main reason I want to register is so I can view my A1cs, so I’ve registered for another form to be sent out and I will get it signed this time!

 

(Sorry, this was much longer than I expected it to be)

Burnout?

I haven’t written on here in 8 months!  And that pretty much sums up my diabetes attitude at the moment.  To be perfectly honest I haven’t really been testing enough or counting carbs at all.  I guess I’m sort of winging it.  I know I need to do something about it but have no motivation at all at the moment.  It’s sort of like eating healthily and exercising, except it’s to keep you alive.  You go through phases where you’re really motivated but then a few weeks or months later, you don’t see many results, you slip up, you don’t feel the motivation anymore, etc.

My aim over the next week is simply to test 4 times a day.

Short and boring post today but I’m going to get back into it!

Catchya

New clinic, new me?

Yesterday I went to my new clinic for the first time. I recently moved from the city centre to Partick and so, when I went to my new doctor’s surgery, the GP said I could move my diabetes care from Stobhill to Gartnavel and I jumped at the chance.
There was nothing bad about my old clinic, but they had so many doctors that it was common to have a different endo every time. This meant a feeling of starting again on every visit. My HbA1c has been too high for years – almost as long as I can remember, definitely since around 4th year of high school – and so I need support from the clinic but with each doctor comes a different approach. I also didn’t like the fact that none of them knew me, even if I had seen them before.
My second problem with it was that if I phoned to change an appointment, I wouldn’t get another for months.
Thirdly, I always had to wait for hourssssss. No exaggeration – it was at least a half day event.
Fourth, and finally, it’s a bit of a trek.

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So yesterday, I left the flat with a positive attitude and followed Google Maps on a nice wee walk to Gartnavel. Thankfully, I arrived quite early as I was in 3 different hospital buildings before finding the diabetes centre. Although I arrived feeling positive, diabetes waiting rooms can be quite a bleak place. This is probably not everyone’s experience, but I often feel like most of the patients look really ill and immobile which can be pretty soul destroying, as if it’s a glimpse into the future.
I got my weight and blood pressure checked (all fine) then got my bloods done before returning to the waiting room. A 20/30 minute wait later (much better than before!) I met my new endo, Dr Small. And what can I say? Great name, great doctor. My referral to him simply said, “Donna has moved address, please look after her.” which seemed to annoy him but for me it was a lovely clean slate. He asked about my job, uni etc and then a bit about my diabetes.

Your HbA1c represents your average blood sugars and a high result, aside from making you feel ill, exhausted etc on the short term, is what leads to long term complications associated with diabetes – kidney failure, loss of eye sight, neuropathy, loss of limbs etc. My HbA1c was 10.5% which is about 90 in the new measurement OR an average blood sugar of 14mmol. A person without diabetes’ HbA1c should be 4-5.9%. A person with diabetes should aim for around 6.5-7.5%. This was up since my last clinic but came as no surprise.

As he discussed the reasons behind this, how I controlled my BGs (blood glucose) and what approach I wanted to take, I struggled to hold back the tears. He said something that really rung true with me… He said that because he was a diabetes specialist with years of experience and more knowledge than most about diabetes, insulin, carbohydrates etc., that he could carb count excellently, figure out his dosage and insulin ratios perfectly and achieve perfect blood sugar (so he thinks, maybe not QUITE true since there are so so so many variables). But then he said that he could only do this for about 4 days before he got too frustrated with it. 🙌🙌🙌🙌 YESSS DR SMALL – nailed it! It’s so emotionally and mentally draining. That’s what’s truly the hardest part.

So next steps… He asked if I’d been on a DAFNE course (dose adjustment for normal eating) and I explained how I really wanted to do it but had been on the waiting list for years. He introduced me to a diabetes nurse and assigned me a dietician. I was then told I could go on course called DICE instead (diabetes – insulin and carbohydrate education). DAFNE is a 5 day course whereas DICE is two days. I am now signed up to a place on the DICE course in February!! Amazing, after being on a DAFNE waiting list for years!

My main step is strict carb counting using one of these…

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I’m weighing everything, recording it all in the diary, figuring out carbs with the use of My Fitness Pal, calculating correction doses, then testing two hours later to check if my insulin:carb ratios and correction units were correct. This will take a lot of analysing, effort and commitment but I’m feeling ready! Let’s do this!!

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Christmas colds and diabetes

Pretty sure everyone I know was a bit ill at some point over their Christmas holiday, whether it was from a bug or self inflicted!  The annoying thing about diabetes is that when you have the cold, the flu or a horrific hangover, you still have to deal with the diabetes and more often than not the illness makes the diabetes worse AND the diabetes makes the illness worse.

One thing that really grinds my gears, is when people are hungover and exclaim, “I need sugar!”, as they reach for their irn bru… because all they are really complaining about is their blood sugar dropping by about 2mmols.  I understand that hangovers are yuck, and I love to complain about them as much as the next person, but bitch please, our blood sugars can fluctuate by >20mmols in one day so pipe down.

Between Christmas and New Year, I was feeling pretty yucky.  I had the horrible cold and sickness, that my family seemed to pass from one to the other, throughout the festivities, but the really bad bit came overnight when I woke up feeling like DEATH.  I felt sick, my head hurt, I needed water but to lift my head was like trying to lift a 10 tonne truck.  When I eventually managed to check my blood sugar, it was 30.2.  For those of you who don’t know, this level is dangerously high.  It should be between 4-10, ideally around 6 or 7.
Luckily I was home at my parents and so I phoned my wonderful mother and father’s mobile phones at about 2am and mam came downstairs to help me, getting me water (with a straw so I didn’t have to lift my head to drink it), a basin and holding my hair back as I was sick.  I had a little cry with her about how shit diabetes is.
There can be days like this with type 1 diabetes and I’d really like us to raise awareness of how hard it can be – it is nowhere near as simple as some people seem to believe.  But I would also like to note that I know how lucky I am – I got better the next day and, since I didn’t feel well enough to go on a night out, spent a lovely Hogmanay with my fantastic family who I am lucky to have!

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I hope everyone else had a great New Year too and are sticking to those resolutions…  My resolution happens to be diabetes related too – trying my hardest to carb count properly and keep track of my blood sugars to figure out my insulin ratios, for once and for all (Also resolved to read a book a fortnight but Mark Zuckerberg went and stole that one!).  So far, so good – I’ve been weighing my foods and keeping track of the carbs on My Fitness Pal and I think I’m managing to see some trends.  I’ll keep my blog updated on that one and I have an appointment at my brand new diabetes clinic at the end of the month so I will hopefully do a wee blog then to say how it all went.

And remember, the next time you have a hangover – you will live – complain as much as you like, but if you’re around me, try not to mention your sugar levels!

Where I am now…

“How is your diabetes going?”

My most hated question…  Not because I don’t want to tell people about it but because it’s so vague and overly simplified.  I get asked this sort of question all the time…  at the opticians, by friends, at the diabetic clinic, getting a flu jab, by people I’ve just told that I have diabetes… the list goes on.

But what time-frame are they talking – this week, the past few months, today?  Are they referring to my blood sugar levels on average?  Do they mean am I having many hypos?  Are they asking whether I’m remembering to take my injections?  Do they mean are my carb:insulin ratios working for me?  Are they talking about mental health?  Your health, mentality and blood sugar levels fluctuate from hour to hour and there are so many components to type 1 diabetes that this question simply does not work.

My response?  Normally “Yeah, fine” or “My levels are a bit high at the moment”.  I have absolutely no problem with friends asking me this, it’s quite nice if anything, but when it’s a health care professional (HCP), it’s pretty pointless.

Anyway, I diverge.  How IS my diabetes going?  To be perfectly honest, not well.  My levels are all over the place; my hbA1C has been high for years and it’s taking a toll on my health.  I feel exhausted a lot of the time and just generally run down, the damage to my eyes is starting to show and last year I sought help from my GP for my mental health.  Because of this, I am determined to get my levels on track but as of yet, I don’t know how to.  I go through phases of trying to keep a food diary, change insulin ratios, testing two hours after eating, etc but after a while when I’m putting all the effort in and it’s making no noticeable difference, this fizzles out.  I think that I need a different attitude, approach and more support from HCPs, more frequent clinic visits but this is easier said than done.  I will keep the blog updated though!

For Diabetes Awareness Month, I will be following the topics of my fave book Balancing Diabetes by Kerri Sparling.  This includes blood sugar balancing, work, moving away from home, and much more.  Get your blue on for November and raise some awareness 😉

Diagnosis

Here is one of my old blog posts on diagnosis.  Update – I now know my diaversary (July 24th, 2002)

I wasn’t sure how to start blogging about diabetes but I suppose the beginning is as good a place as any…  I was about 8 when I was diagnosed, although unlike most I don’t know the date of my actual “diaversary”. I need to try to find this out at my next clinic. Maybe I could try to use it as an excuse for presents!

This is me and some friends before I got ill. I'm the nurse!

This is me and some friends before I got ill. Ironically I’m the nurse!

I had been ill for months and months. I looked scarily thin and still, to this day, I don’t like looking at photos of myself at that age. My poor mam had been tripping me back and forth to the doctors. It, shockingly, took 3 different doctors and Mam actually asking for a diabetes test before I was diagnosed. I remember in the days leading up to get the test done, she explained to me all about type 1 diabetes (not that we focused on the type 1/type 2 distinction at that time – very different story now). I think she almost knew, and was trying to soften the blow for me. She must have told me about exercise putting blood sugars down and sweet things putting them up because I can remember turning down juice my dad bought me the day before and cycling frantically in and out my road… trying to cheat the test!

I think this is when I'd started losing a lot of weight but certainly not at my worst.

I think this is when I’d started losing a lot of weight but certainly not at my worst. (on the right)

I can’t actually remember getting the test anymore but what I can remember is when the results came. I was playing at my house with my best friend at the time, Becky. We were supposed to be having a sleepover. Mam came in and said she had “a story to tell me”. I don’t know if it was the way she said it but I just knew. I had diabetes. That’s one of my most vivid childhood memories.
I ran upstairs crying, locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out. I had to go into hospital that night. I’m not really aware of Becky leaving or me being coaxed from the bathroom!

The next thing I remember is arriving at hospital… I got about 10 injections and drips etc. (no biggie now!).  I’m from Shetland, which is a beautiful group of islands, very far North of Scotland. At the time I think there were only 14 other children there with type 1 diabetes, so the next day I was flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. I was really really upset by the idea when I found out but when I got there I had a great time!  I was on a children’s ward with playworkers and got to do arts and crafts, play games and stayed up late with the older children to watch the Big Brother final. My mam had already gone to bed then and I remember feeling like a little rebel.

This is Chubby, the teddy I got from Nanny when I was in hospital.  I made him diabetic and injected him for a while too!

This is Chubby, the teddy I got from Nanny when I was in hospital. I made him diabetic for a short while and injected him for a while too!

Of course it wasn’t all fun and games. I had to learn all about injecting myself, food, doses, hypos, hypers etc etc. I even had to skip breakfast and run round the hospital to learn what it was like to feel hypo, which is when your blood sugar is too low!  I can remember being asked the same sets of questions over and over by lots of different staff, one of which was “are you feeling a lot better now?”  The strange thing was, I had become so used to feeling that way, I didn’t realise I was ill.  I didn’t even know what it was like to feel hungry or thirsty.  I kept saying “I felt fine” which annoyed my poor mam I think because I was so drastically ill but I made it sound like she was exaggerating everything!  She told me I used to come home from school crying because I was so tired.  I never even thought of how hard it must have been for her at the time.  I suppose you don’t at that age.  My dad was in hospital too then, so she was all alone trying to comfort me and I just thought she was wrong for taking me to the doctor in the first place!  She has told me since then though that she was actually relieved when I finally got a diagnosis because she thought I was going to die.  I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like for her.

So although I was devastated at the time, all I was actually dreading was injecting myself. I now know that doesn’t even come into my top 10 hardest things about diabetes but at the time it seemed like a huge deal.

I’ll end this post with the 4 Ts… Diabetes UK focus on children in this but remember adults can be diagnosed with type 1 too.

What are the 4 Ts?

  • Toilet
    Going to the toilet a lot, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier nappies in babies
  • Thirsty
    Being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst
  • Tired
    Feeling more tired than usual
  • Thinner
    Losing weight or looking thinner than usual

By making sure children and young people get a quick diagnosis and early treatment, we can avoid them becoming seriously ill with DKA.