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Being diagnosed with type 1 and becoming a first-time dad: Adam’s story

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Adam

Given that we were in a pandemic, we did feel more vulnerable with a newborn and my type 1 diagnosis.

Adam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during the first lockdown, when his girlfriend was expecting their first child. He talks about adapting to his new way of life, the huge impact of diabetes tech, and his hopes for the future with his son.

Diagnosis

Lockdown

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in April 2020, in the middle of lockdown. I think at the time, in the early stages when I was poorly, I put my symptoms down to the stress of buying a property in lockdown before our first baby was born. I was lethargic and excessively thirsty, drinking pint after pint of water but unable to quench my thirst.

My girlfriend was concerned and suggested I get a blood test. I didn’t go to the GP, I used an online eConsult for advice, and was contacted quite quickly afterwards. Due to covid, it took a bit longer to get my bloods tested, but when the results came back, I was called into hospital the same day.

Because I was unaware I had diabetes, I was eating everything I would normally eat, so when I went into hospital, I had no idea I was actually in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). As soon as I entered A&E the nurse pricked my finger to check my blood glucose level. and then I was instantly transferred to a bed and put on a drip.

I ended up spending three nights in hospital, which was really tough. I couldn’t have any visitors as it was during the lockdown. My girlfriend had taken me into hospital but couldn’t stay or visit, which she found really upsetting.  

Treatments

Adjusting

In a way I think I felt better now knowing what I had and how to treat it. I just wanted to get back to feeling myself again.

I took the diagnosis on the chin and moved forward as best I could, but diabetes has a big impact on your life.

I’ve got the 24-hour slow acting insulin Lantus, and I take three injections at mealtimes. I weigh my food and manage my carbs as much as possible, which my girlfriend supports me with – and we also use apps to help with this.

I was on a trial for the Freestyle Libre before my son was born and still use it now. It’s a good bit of kit. Now if I go for a night out or if I’m playing sports, life is so much easier as I don’t have to be pricking my finger; it’s just a case of scanning my phone to check my levels – it gives me peace of mind. 

Family life 

Four months after my diagnosis my son, Ronan, was born. Again, I think having the Libre really helped me manage my diabetes during this more intense time. Doing feeds, getting up in the night, and having a newborn wake up at all hours, made managing my diabetes a bit more stressful, especially as Ronan had colic so didn’t sleep very well. 

Given that we were in a pandemic, we did feel more vulnerable with a newborn and my type 1 diagnosis. Not many people could see and cuddle our baby. Perhaps we were overly cautious and did miss out, but we felt better when vaccinations were introduced.  

Ronan is now 20 months’ old, and I’ve managed to do everything with him so far. He’s a very active child, so I’ll often be chasing him around the house or at the park. We like to get out as much as possible and often go on long walks together.

As he grows up, I want to be able to do sports with him. My motivation to manage my diabetes well is so that I can do these things with my son.

I’ve always enjoyed football, cricket, and squash, so would love to eventually see if he shares the same interests. 

Life with diabetes

A different kind of normal

Having diabetes is another thing to keep on top of alongside the constant needs of a young child. It was tricky at the beginning, but I feel like I’m top of it now. Aside from being a busy dad, over time I’ve been able to do more normal things again, like going out for a meal or getting a takeaway. 

I don’t do as much sport as I used to as I try to spend as much time as possible with my son. But I have done a charity cycle and a football match with work, which made me more confident with managing my diabetes. I was in DKA when I was in hospital but have managed to keep my levels low since then and get good feedback from my diabetes team at my check-ups.

Within a year of my diagnosis, I had my HbA1c down to 33mmol/mol (5.3%) which I was very happy with. I’ve now started to relax a little bit more with what I eat and how strict I am with my food. I think at my last check-up I was at 39mmol/mol (5.7%).

Emotions

Worry

Not everyone can see diabetes, often it’s invisible. Although it affects you physically, I didn’t really feel it when I was poorly, just before my diagnosis – it wasn’t crippling pain. For me, the mental side is the hardest part. It takes up a lot of headspace having to keep on top of it, making sure I have hypo treatments nearby, my insulin kit, and making sure food is prepped. My partner does a lot of the food prep, which makes me feel guilty, as it’s more for her to worry about. Even normal things like going out or going on holiday, needs more planning. 

I’d like to see more awareness and understanding of diabetes. When I was diagnosed, I knew very little about the condition – neither did my family and friends. Things like what causes diabetes or the symptoms to look out for. I still sometimes feel like a lot of people around me wouldn’t know what to do if I had a bad hypo. I don’t talk about it too much but if people ask then I try to educate them as best I can. With better awareness, they might then be able to spot the symptoms earlier or support people they know who are living with diabetes. 

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