Monday, 29 October 2012

Then and now

This blog first appeared on on October 25th 2012

I'm Andy, I'm 31 and I've had type 1 diabetes for 11 years.

I remember the day I got diagnosed, I got a call from the campus GP asking me to come in urgently - I was at the start of my post-grad year at university.  I'd had a few "symptoms" for a couple of weeks and having done a bit of internet research, I had an inkling what she was going to tell me, but I'd assumed I was wrong.

When she told me I had type 1 diabetes and had to go to the hospital, I remember saying something about having a free afternoon in a couple of days time.  She said "No, no. You don't understand, you have to go now".

At the hospital, I remember two things vividly.  The first was the sheer amount of information I had to try and make sense of in a few hours.  There's so much to learn, remember and understand it feels impossible to manage at the beginning. The second was the first time I injected myself with the needle.  I don't like needles and to this day I have to look away every time I have a blood test, but I quickly had to acclimatise to injecting myself.

I started out on two injections a day with a mix of short and long acting insulin.  Looking back, the Innovo pen was a bit unwieldy but it looked gadgety enough to help me along my journey.  Fortunately I've long since graduated to five injections a day using a significantly less cumbersome device.

The Innovo Pen from 2001

My first hypo was the following Saturday morning when I was at work.  I'd been told what the warning symptoms were likely to be and what to do, but I still gave the on call nurse a ring to make sure I was doing the right thing.  There are a lot of other things that you perhaps don't immediately associate with the lifestyle of a diabetic - checking your blood glucose, annual eye screenings, dietician appointments, foot specialists but your life adapts to fit around these things over time.

Some of them get easier and to a degree, some of them don't.  Whenever I have a hypo, I still get the same feelings of confusion and anger as I did back then, and the eye drops still sting as much as they first did, but I accept that it's just part of my life now.

Eleven years on and things are definitely easier and more settled now.  The theory and understanding is ingrained, the carb counting and insulin maths is automatic and testing my blood a few times a day is now the norm.  I still have good days and bad days and occasionally get caught out with a high blood glucose level that I'm not expecting but managing it is now second nature.  I also understand what's expected of me by my family and my doctors as well as what I expect of myself.

I try not to let being diabetic define who am I or restrict what I do because there's so much more to me than diabetes. Whilst it might be an important part of my life, it isn't my entire life.  Hopefully I'll get to share more of my experiences with you in the coming months.

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