When the Edmondson family moved house on Boxing Day 2011, they wondered whether the move and a new school could be the reason their son, Jamie, had started wetting the bed.
Then they thought that perhaps it was due to a urine infection, so his mum, Karen, took him to the doctor. The alert GP asked if Jamie, who was 10 at the time, had been thirsty, tired or had lost weight.
The answer was yes and, as these are all classic signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, the family was referred immediately to the hospital where Jamie was diagnosed straight away.
In typical fashion, Jamie, now 13, took the diagnosis in his stride.
“For Jamie, the most important thing was that he wouldn’t miss our skiing holiday that we were going on at the end of the week,” said Karen. “The nurses were great and told us there was no reason we couldn’t go if he could control it and that set the pattern really.
“Jamie injected himself straight away and from then on has treated it as an inconvenience that he just needs to overcome.”
Karen and her husband Barry, who live in Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands, think that part of the reason for Jamie’s no-nonsense approach to his diabetes is his passion for competitive downhill mountain biking.
“It is so important to him that he doesn’t really dwell on his diabetes,” said Karen. “He’s been biking since he was about six and as soon as he was able to compete downhill he went for it. He is currently ranked 4th in his age group in Britain. We are definitely proud parents.”
But Karen admits it isn’t always easy for Jamie to manage his diabetes, especially on race days.
“There is a lot of waiting around but then they are driven or chair-lifted to the top of the mountain. There’s huge surges of adrenalin and of course the two or three minutes of the course is a tough physical challenge, so the following 24 hours after a race can be challenging.
“By the time he gets home from a race it can be a bit hit and miss as he can have high blood sugar levels that can then plummet. On race days he doesn’t want to eat lunch, he just wants to pick. But he is due to go on to a pump shortly and we are hoping this will make things a bit easier.”
Karen says Jamie’s school has worked with Jamie to help him manage his condition.
“He’s able to test in class and he’s allowed to leave five minutes before the end of class at lunchtime so he can test himself and administer his insulin. That means he doesn’t end up at the back of the lunch queue every day. I think that because a couple of other children at his school have diabetes they have a good understanding of the condition and understand that making small adjustments to that child’s routine can really help them cope better.”
For Jamie, diabetes is a hurdle that he is overcoming one day at a time.
“I love racing and I love competing,” he said. “Yes, I have to manage my diabetes but that’s just one part of my life and I don’t let it hold me back. Things might be a bit different if I wasn’t so focused on my biking but knowing I’ve got to stay fit and healthy to compete gives me the incentive to try and eat healthily and work hard to manage my diabetes.
“But when I’m at the top of a mountain I’m not thinking about my blood glucose levels, I’m just thinking about what it is going to take to win my race!”