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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Morgan's story: relying on family for emotional support

Morgan Shaw

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 15

Although my dad’s work revolves around diabetes I was quite ignorant to it. Work is separate from family life so I didn’t really know what life with diabetes would entail before my diagnosis.

Morgan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 15 when her dad, a diabetes researcher, recognised the symptoms. Although it's been difficult at times, with support from her parents, she's determined to not let her diabetes affect the way she lives her life. 

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 15, I remember it was the day right before the Easter holidays and I was about to start my exams. My dad, who is a researcher into type 1 diabetes, recognised the symptoms but at the time I had no idea. I was extremely thirsty and had shooting pains down my legs, but I just put it down to the fact I was still growing and thought it was a good thing that I was drinking lots of water. 

My dad brought home a blood testing monitor from work and it read ‘high’ – so much so, you couldn’t even see the number because it exceeded 22mmol/l – obviously that was bad. I went to hospital the next day and it was pretty traumatising. It was a massive shock because it all happened quite quickly. I was sent home that day and I was glad to have the Easter holidays off school because it gave me time to come to terms with everything.

Emotions

Emotions

Although my dad’s work revolves around diabetes I was quite ignorant about the condition, so I didn't really know life with diabetes would entail before my diagnosis.  

I think school is a tough time to be diagnosed with diabetes. I had some time off, then came back and had to start taking injections. I know a lot of people will inject by going to the toilet or trying to keep it hidden but I didn’t want to do that so I had a conversation with my mum about it. We decided the best thing would be to not make a big deal about it, so I checked my blood sugars in class from the start. Obviously, that’s tough because people would comment. I don’t think I would have been so open if I hadn’t had those conversations with my mum. 

My diabetes is really affected by stress, activity and the foods I eat, and that can be quite depressing because I don’t really know why my numbers are going up and down. It’s very much a day-by-day thing. Stress affects it a lot – I find my blood sugars shoot up if I’m in a stressful situation. That can be really hard and it can make me feel down if I’m going through a rough patch, so I definitely rely on my parents for emotional support.

Treatments

Diabetes research

I think CGMs are really good – having more closed-loop systems would be ideal, so you don't have to think about it as much. It would be great to find a cure – that's really important. That's kind of what my dad is working towards.

Life with diabetes

Morgan's perspective

I think knowing that it’s not the end of the world when you’re diagnosed is important. It can feel like that and it is quite shocking thinking that you're ill when you’re young and all your peers are really healthy. You’re not actually ill it’s more just a deficiency in insulin so you can manage it. Nothing bad is going to happen to you and you can carry on life as normal. There’s great technology out there.

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