After Hannah and I were asked to speak at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference in March this year, it really hit home how much has happened in the last 2 years. Looking back I can’t believe where I am today and how I got here.
In January 2011 I’d had diabetes for 9 years. Diagnosed at the age of 16 I didn’t know anyone who had diabetes. I didn’t know what it was, what it meant or how it could affect me. It was a completely new world to me… a world that scared me. I thought it would take away my independence, my friends, my future… and myself.
For nine years I refused anything and everything to do with my diabetes. Injections, blood glucose testing, HbA1c tests, appointments with health care professionals… I pretended I didn’t have diabetes… though I knew it was always lurking in the shadows, waiting to catch up with me.
2 years ago my HbA1c was around 15 and that was the lowest it had ever been.
2 years ago I was in A&E again with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).
2 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 retinopathy and told I would lose my sight.
2 years ago I’d never met anyone else with diabetes.
2 years ago I regretted every single day that I hadn’t looked after myself and my diabetes.
But no more!
Today my HbA1c is 7.8
Today it has been 20 months since my last admission with DKA.
Today my retinopathy has halted in my left eye and is slowing in my right.
Today I’ve met amazing and inspiring people who have diabetes.
Today I still regret every single mistake that I made… but I hope others can learn from them.
“A dead end can never be a one way street; you can always turn around and take another road.”
It’s not easy… if it was then I wouldn’t have ignored it for such a long time. But for me, anything that I do on a daily basis for my diabetes has now become second nature. I barely think when I’m reaching into my bag for my blood glucose meter. I don’t flinch when I see a needle going into my skin anymore. Carb counting has become easier now that apps are available at the touch of a button. Appointments are something that I look forward to, because I get so much out of them. I lap up the information that I’m given by my consultant instead of just smiling and nodding like I used to. I ask questions constantly, I challenge methods of treatment and changes to my regime because I realise now just how precious my health is.
Now that I my health and my life back I want to make every option and opportunity work for me if I feel it’s right.
On top of daily diabetes management I study Monday - Friday, volunteer, work long evening and weekend shifts and involve myself with as many diabetes projects as I can… conferences, events, meetings, more volunteering, research projects, writing etc. Then I look at other people who also do so much on top of their daily diabetes lives and it makes me smile to think of what can be achieved and how diabetes doesn’t hold people back. It’s definitely worth the work and it really does pay off.
This blog is to demonstrate to anyone who is struggling that they can accept their diabetes and find a positive and healthy way to manage it. There is always a way out, there are always people to help and guide us, and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. If I can do it then I think anyone can!
on the 26th November I got an early Christmas present. For a long time me and Laura (aka ninjabetic) had been asking , ok more like annoying, our leader at diabetes uk to be allowed to attend the diabetes uk professional conference in March . on the 26th Alex came back with some even better news - we were being invited to speak at it! So on the 14th march me Alex and Laura will be speaking to hopefully a number of hcp about our work as young leaders and the use of social media. Frankly I’m a little scared about this but it did make me realise how far I’ve come in the past 2 years with some sheer determination, some great friends and a pretty awesome (and very patient) diabetes team.
2 years ago this month I was at rock bottom with my diabetes and self-confidence I was sat in the hospital with my a1c at 10.5 % I was on a very slippery slope with my diabetes. The way I was going I would have had severe complications by my 20s and wouldn’t of made my 40th . I was doing maybe one bloodcount a day, was skipping injections and the injections I was doing I was guessing the dose of. All the locums I’d had previously had written me off as non compliant and didn’t even bother trying to get through to me .I’d had several scary hypos but nothing would get through to me every time my doctor or nurse would try to convince me to do things properly it would go in one ear and straight out the other. Then I got told if I didn’t sort myself out I wouldn’t make my 40th suddenly the reality hit me that I needed to take care of my diabetes
2 years later I’m a young leader for diabetes uk mentoring teens and annoying , sorry advising , doctors on trying to improve care for type 1 whilst studying for my a levels in the hopes of being a children’s nurse. 2 years later I’ve met some of the most amazing friends I could of wished for and been given opportunities I could never of imagined when I was rebelling. i confess I don’t work anywhere near as hard as Laura does on ninjabetic because my blog was never set up to be a support site (I love that teens will come and talk to me though!) it was set up to provide a very unsugarcoated account of what it’s like to live with type 1 as a teenager, the good parts and the bad. 2 years on from my a1c of 10.5 im on an insulin pump testing seven times a day with an average bg of 7.8 (just after exams it will get better) and with less hypos.
I’ve already been told that my team will be on the front row and also my pump rep.the fight for the insulin pump was something that took nearly 2 years and was so so worth the fight. I went from having to be completely obsessive over my diabetes to actually being able to relax a bit. It’s not perfect I can still have phases where I have 3 or 4 hypos a day or sometimes be hypo for up to 3 hours. The pump gave me my life back and that may sound like an over exaggeration but it really isn’t for me. Before the pump I was spending every minute trying to control my volatile bloodcounts the pump has let me be a teen again.
4 years ago when I first heard about the professional conference I dreamt that I could speak at it speak about what its really like to be a teenager with type 1. I never thought I’d actually reach that dream , at the time it seemed so unrealistic but with the help of diabetes uk I am gonna reach that goal.