Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Living with Type 1 Diabetes

I was 11.  The first thing I remember asking my mum as we were waiting in the car outside the pharmacy, was if I was going to die.  I thought diabetes was one of those illnesses that killed you within a few weeks, or months if you were lucky.  I was only 11 and everything else about diabetes, being diabetic and living with it didn't matter.  I just needed to know if I was going to die or not because the thought of dying was a lot more frightening than anything else.


My mum told me I wasn't going to die and that was it.  I felt fine instantly.  I was ok.  My mum said I wasn't going to die and I believed her.  Fast forward to 2018 and I'm still here.  I'm alive!  My mum was right.  Mums are always right.

So what's it like, living with diabetes?  Well, it's my normal.  I don't know any other way.  I don't know what life is like, to live without diabetes.  A bit like when you have a baby and all of a sudden you can't imagine what life was like without your little bundle of joy.

I have lived with it for so many years that it's just a part of me and without it, I wouldn't be me anymore.  It has never come in the way of my life and ever since the beginning my parents have always made sure to let me live my best normal life as possible.

I'll never forget Dr. Jiovani.  He was the one that had a brilliant attitude towards diabetes and told us to continue doing everything like we had always done.  Treat me as normal and stick together as a family unit.  So, eat together, make meals together and don't make changes just for me, but for everyone so I don't feel like I'm different.

And honestly, I've never felt different my whole entire life.  I've always felt the same as everyone and I have to give the credit to my doctor but also my parents for not treating me as a diabetic.  For believing in me and for giving me the courage to live a life that makes me happy regardless of anything.  Because I'm normal just like you,  I just have diabetes too.

When you hear the word 'diabetes' people instantly assume you can't eat anything.  But thats not true. You CAN eat EVERYTHING!  Just eat in moderation.  That's the key.  Don't overdo it so that your blood glucose levels start reaching for the sky!  Just eat sensibly, and I guess whether you're diabetic or not, that's how you should be eating anyway.  Right?

So as a type 1 diabetic, I have to inject myself with insulin every time I have a meal; breakfast, lunch, dinner and sometimes when I have a snack too.  That's the Humalog.  And the Lantus is my long acting insulin that works in the background to keep my sugar levels under control.  I take that one once a day.  I'm so used to it that it's like second nature.  I don't even think about it.  And the great thing is, I can inject it through my clothes too so I don't need to pull my pants down or push my sleeve up either!  When I go out to eat I'll just do it at the table, I never go and hide in the loo to inject myself.  I never have done.  It's just normal.

I forgot to mention I also test my blood sugar at home too!  That just helps me to keep track of everything and just in case my sugar drops I have a bottle of lucozade with me when I go out, in the car and at home.  If there isn't any around then a sugary drink or even a chocolate bar will do.  That's when I go to town and eat all my faves.  Come on, what's a girl to do when her sugar needs pumping up!

Jokes aside tho, I do take care of my sugar levels.  In the end it'll only hurt me if I don't.  So yes, I do manage it well, but I'm not so strict that it stops me from doing and eating what I want.  Because that's not the way to live.  And at the same time, I'm not so careless either by letting things go.  I have a balanced lifestyle which allows me to eat what I want, even chocolate, without it affecting my sugar levels.  So if you think about it, I'm not missing out on anything really.

I can feel it when my blood sugar drops and when it's high too.  When it goes low, it's like all the energy is being sucked out of me.  I start to feel sleepy too.  A simple task becomes so much more difficult.  I can lose concentration so making a pizza can feel like rocket science.  Making sense of things becomes difficult.  I can feel a cold sweat coming on and my heart beats so fast and hard in my chest, I can feel it all through my whole body.  And although I don't feel hungry, my body just needs fuel so I can eat.  And when I say eat, I mean EAT!  I don't know where it goes but for some reason my body just wants food.  Anything will do as long as I can eat it!

But what about when it goes high?  It's the total opposite.  I don't feel like eating but I do feel very thirsty.  My toilet visits become a lot more frequent.  I feel horrible inside and it feels like a bubble is bursting inside me and then it spreads all over my body.  I can't describe the feeling.  My mouth feels dry and sweet, but not the nice kind of sweet.  My eyes start to feel sticky and my vision can go a little blurry too.  Sometimes, I may need to take a few units of insulin to help bring it down.

Luckily this doesn't happen too often and when it does I usually manage it on my own.  I've always been very independent and hate any attention so will deal with it as best I can.  Although I can ask for help, I just don't like to.   I'm also very lucky to have some amazing people around me, my family and extended family, who have all been there from the beginning, always looking out for me no matter where we are and I'll always be forever grateful.

Do I ever feel like I wish I didn't have it?  No.  That's my answer, no.  I'm so glad to say that I've never felt like that.  Ever.  Diabetes has never stopped me from doing what I want.  It has never been the reason for anything that I haven't done and I think one of the reasons is because I've continued to live such a normal life ever since the day I was diagnosed.  I pray that I can continue to do so.  Even tho, some people in the community had their doubts about a girl being diabetic, getting married, having children, basically just living,  I knew deep down that I would do everything they thought I couldn't just because I was diabetic.  I'm sure, if you're from the Indian community, you'll know what I'm talking about.  I never stopped believing and I never gave up.

My diabetes is a part of me and always will be.  That's the way I'm meant to live my life and I'm completely fine with that.   At the end of the day, it all depends on the attitude you have towards being diabetic or having a lifelong illness.  You either let it take over and stop you or you embrace it and work with it to continue living the life you want to.  Instead of making excuses, accept it and let it be a part of you.  And never feel sorry for yourself but learn to take it in your stride and keep going.  Whatever you choose, choose to be positive.  Don't look at it like it's something that's going to hold you back.  It'll only hold you back if you let it.

So, what's it like living with diabetes?  It's just the way I like it x

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