So apart from my obsession with coffee, I am also extremely partial to the odd slice of Dutch Apple Cake, something which somehow I’ve only recently discovered and sweet diggity, where has it been all my life? I also love the little mouthfuls of heaven that are Thornton’s mini brownie bites, literally anything by Lindt and oh, Kinder Buenos. Yep, its fair to say I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Oh and did I mention I’m a Type 1 diabetic?
Back up the truck, what?? Yep, you heard me right. A type 1 (aka the “worst” sort or the “best” sort depending on who you speak to) diabetic since my diagnosis in April 1998. In fact I am just approaching my nineteenth anniversary of proudly having this “disease”. (Cue the balloons and cake, oh wait…)
I say proudly, yes I am, why shouldn’t I be? I am a fully functioning adult human being who likes all the usual things any woman my age may like – the odd glass of wine, eating out (I’d actually like to class that as one of my hobbies to be fair) and yes, even enjoying the odd bit of chocolate.
I say “disease” as some class it as this, I’m not so keen on that particular classification, I prefer the term “condition”. It’s fair to say my autoimmune system is a bit shoddy to say the least but most of the time it doesn’t stop me living my life, being a Mum, going to the gym, having nights out and being dare I say “normal”.
I can manage the “normal” probably a good 90% of the time. Many people I know forget I have it, even when I go out to eat with closest friends and family I can do an almost stealth like ninja insulin injection into my leg, stomach or wherever is generally accessible (depends on the outfit to be honest) so its barely noticeable.
I did have one instance where apparently it was entirely noticeable pretty soon after my diagnosis when I was out at a restaurant and maybe I hadn’t quite nailed my ninja injection technique as I was *shock horror* spotted by an elderly lady who ventured her opinion in the time honoured way that only certain old ladies can – “Well!” (loud voice, furtive glances around the restaurant presumably searching for people that will back her up) “I can’t believe people like that are allowed in places like this!” (more looks of total indignation. In my head I totally want to remember that she did the classic Les Dawson, arms folded under the boobs “huff” but I’m afraid this would be a total figment of my imagination.) So I turned round, put on the sweetest smile that my 21 year old self could muster and asked “What kind of people – diabetics?” to which she became slightly flustered and left soon after. In fairness, it was the late nineties, I was probably wearing black, I may have looked a little like a drug addict but come on!
My God, I’ve learnt so much in nineteen years. Things like how hypos (when my blood sugar goes dangerously low) HURT. Physically and mentally. The shakes, the anxiety, the utter confusion, the bruises if I do collapse (thankfully this is incredibly rare) or bash into things, (way more common) and the recovery. Oh the recovery. Feeling as though I’ve done ten rounds in a boxing ring, I’ve always described it as it feels as if I’ve lost all my superpowers – I’m zapped. Nothing in the tank, just my body physically fighting to get back to the “normal” me.
And the high blood sugars – well, they zap you in a totally different way. My good friend anxiety pops back up again, (always nice) the hot sweats come along to say hi, the sleepless nights are involved more with this one, poking you in the ribs (or should that be pancreas?) at 3am to ensure you don’t get another moments rest until approximately 45 minutes before the alarm goes at 7am.
Some fun facts for you. In nineteen years I have injected myself over 34,000 times. I have done probably 20,000 finger prick tests to check my blood sugar, had over 40 blood tests (that’s well over an armful! Sorry, tenuous Hancock gag there…) Guess I could say I’ve dealt with a lot of pricks?
But do you know what? I’m determined to continue to be a “proud diabetic” who can handle this thing. For me it’s about getting on with it and not letting it control me. So far I’d say I’m still very much in control. Lets hope it stays that way.