Diagnosed at 12 years old
"I had to go through a long process of adjusting to life with type 1 diabetes and it sometimes felt lonely. I would have liked more people to talk to who were going through the same as me."
Aimee, 22 was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes one week before her 13th birthday - and her view of what life as a teenager would be like changed overnight.
“My diagnosis pretty much came out of the blue,” says Aimee. “The only clue was that I was drinking a lot of water. But I didn’t know that I was really ill, until I went to see a GP who did a finger-prick test and sent me straight to A&E.”
Aimee spent some time in hospital before returning to home and school — and started to learn how to manage diabetes and live with it as a teenage girl with more family involvement and support that she had been planning to allow!
“I was striving for independence and had already started to enjoy the freedom of being at secondary school and spending less time at home and then it was taken away overnight.
"I wanted to stay in my friendship bubble and get on with life, but I had to keep leaving the bubble for medical appointments. I felt micro-managed.”
Living with type 1
Fast forward a few years and Aimee is now a student at Kent University, studying for a degree in Computer Science. She is currently on a year out working in industry, with a job at Samsung in Surrey. In September, she will return to the university for her final year before looking for a job, ideally in software engineering or development.
In some ways she says she feels a world away from the 12-year-old who was told she would need life-saving medication for the rest of her life, but Aimee remains very aware of the impact of a diabetes diagnosis on a child or young person.
She set up a group for other students who live with diabetes at her university called the Society of Diabetics to create a space where people could be open about their struggles and the highs and lows of living with diabetes.
“I had to go through a long process of adjusting to life with type 1 diabetes and it sometimes felt lonely. I would have liked more people to talk to who were going through the same as me.”
How Aimee handles organised spontaneity
Aimee has joined the Young Leaders Programme run by Our Lives, Our Choices, Our Voices as a way to help other young people who live with type 1 diabetes.
“I had to find ways to live in the moment – a typical teenager if you like – but also to take account of diabetes as a constant backdrop. I look at it as organised spontaneity and it’s not always easy.
“I’ve also been through a few life stages, school, leaving home and university and now work, so I hope I have something to offer other people in similar situations. I can tell them honestly how it has been for me.”