I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on 21 May 2003 when I was 12 years old. For a few weeks I had been feeling quite ill but I just thought I was getting a bug, however night after night I started to wake up drinking at least five cans of Diet Coke and never being able to quench my thirst. I then started to look very pale and lose a lot of weight and even had someone at school question if I had been eating properly.
By that time I was very confused about why I wasn’t sleeping and why people were looking at me differently until one day my Mum said, "You don’t look right," and took me to the doctor’s. My doctor then took a urine sample from me and automatically knew I was diabetic due to the pear drop smell coming from my breath. I was then rushed to hospital where they kept me in overnight and showed me in the ins and outs of diabetes i.e. how to test my blood, how to inject and how to control my insulin around my diet.
It was a huge shock, the only time I had heard about diabetes was on Coronation Street that year, because it had just been brought into the storyline, and even then I didn’t have a clue about what it meant, which provoked me to be even more scared…What was this illness and why had it happened to me? In my family I am the only one with diabetes so we all did a lot of research around the subject so our knowledge was fresh and my family then knew how to help me.
The first few years with diabetes
The first few years I was a terrible teen: not only did I find out I had Type 1 diabetes I also started my period so, as expected, my hormones were all over the place. I really struggled to come to terms with what had happened to my body: not only did I have an illness which would stay with me for the rest of my life, but I was treated differently by my friends and family, who were always asking me questions. I remember one girl at school wouldn’t even share a drink with me because she was scared she would catch diabetes.
I ended up pushing my family and friends away and falling into depression, and then I stopped doing my injections, which sent me back to hospital where I was monitored by the psych and diabetic care team. After a lot of care from the teams they then helped me to realise that other people had type 1 diabetes (even celebrities) and how they manage to cope with it, so as the years went on my diabetes seemed to become more controlled and I accepted it more.
Unfortunately the last year I have gone straight back to square one…high HbA1c results; feeling tired all the time and I have been admitted into hospital twice this year due to high readings. My diabetic team have suggested I try ‘carb counting’ which is where I count the carbohydrates in each meal/snack and adjust my insulin units to the grams of carbs i.e. 10g of carbs is 1 unit of insulin. I feel as though this either hasn’t worked or I do not understand it completely, because last week I was rushed to hospital again. I have contacted my nurse to gain more knowledge about controlling my carb counting. I also want to see how getting an insulin pump goes because when looking at reviews it seems to work for a lot of young adults.
Keeping my chin up
I do feel low again as it seems to be controlling me rather than me controlling it and so I have decided to sign up to a few diabetes sites to try and get help and meet people who are going through the same thing. I hope to meet new people not to just talk about diabetes but someone to relate to as well: to talk about other interests and take our minds off the fact of having Type 1 diabetes.
I know for the past seven-and-a-half years I have been asking myself the same question over and over, “Why me?” but now I just need to keep my chin up and accept that I have got Type 1 diabetes. There are people out there who can help, but the only person who can help it stabilise completely is me.