My health got worse and I developed complications
At 28, I was working as a holiday rep in Spain where I noticed my eyesight was getting worse. I was struggling to read the fine print of booking forms.
When I came home from Spain, I had my eyes tested. I was told that as a result of my diabetes I’d developed cataracts in both eyes and retinopathy. Three days before I was supposed to leave for a placement in Venice, I was told I had to stay and have surgery to save my eyesight.
I was angry at diabetes and at that point I was starting to feel it was maybe my fault – I told myself if I’d looked after myself a bit more, I wouldn’t be in this situation.
I had to give up my job and I had two operations on my eyes. Around the same time, I also found out I had Charcot foot – a complication of diabetes where nerve damage means that when you put pressure on your foot, the bone and joints can start to change shape over time. I had to use a wheelchair for eight months.
Once my eyes were better, I started doing art lessons and when I was told I could start walking again, I got a job in a travel agent and met my other half.
Six weeks later, a routine blood test at the diabetes clinic showed that I had 21 per cent kidney function. It stunned me. At that point I wasn’t showing symptoms. It was later that I started to feel tired and sick.
In January 2017 I was put on dialysis. I felt awful at that point, although I was still working full time. That was hard. I was trying to be all happy, selling holidays, but I felt so rubbish.
I was on dialysis for 14 months. At that point I blamed myself. But a counsellor at the kidney clinic said that at the age I was diagnosed, you don’t necessarily have the mindset to be able to deal with type 1 diabetes. Yet you’re treated as an adult patient. She said it wasn’t my fault, that there are special clinics now for teenagers like me who struggle with a type 1 diagnosis.