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Diagnosis

Knowing where to start with your diagnosis of diabetes can be a challenge. But it’s not a challenge you have to face alone. Here we share stories from people who recall how they came to terms with their diagnosis and adjusted to life with diabetes.

Ted's story

Ted LambFound out he had type 1 diabetes when he was aged 16

Being diagnosed and getting treatment

I was diagnosed with type 1 in July 2005, right at the end of school when I was 16. I think I went through a fairly standard set of problems before diagnosis, a few days of severe lethargy and thirst (with the constating peeing associated with that!) and I lost a lot of weight very quickly, which for several months afterwards was a big problem for me with the consistent high blood sugar. I didn't notice it so much at the time but looking at old pictures you can see how sick I was! I was definitely confused when I first found out I had diabetes. I didn't understand how or why I'd been stuck with what I thought was such a raw deal considering none of my family have it. I felt fairly isolated from my friends as they weren't going through the same thing at the age of 16.

The initial treatment was from the team at the Bournemouth Hospital Diabetes and Endocrine Centre, and still is 15 years later! I was given the Novorapid and Lantus pens, as well as my first BG meter and a whole host of info leaflets and a couple of books to help me out. The team in Bournemouth have always been amazing and so supportive.

To be honest, I feel the treatment I receive now is fairly similar to when I was first diagnosed. However, the fact that I can email my healthcare team if I have any problems and get a really quick response is a really big difference compared to when I was first diagnosed. I feel there is a lot of information online that you can take advantage of if you feel like you need the help.

I think as tough as type 1 can be, it's also made me far more resilient than I would be without it. The highs and lows still happen, whether that's with blood sugar readings or emotionally, but having the condition keeps me focussed on making sure I'm making the most out of anything that I do, because you never know when your health can change for the worse. I take the condition day by day and I don't worry if I have a bad day, because you can always make the next day better, be realistic about what you can do because of the condition but also stay positive because it could always be worse.

My friends and family, especially my mum, have been amazing. They definitely understand the dangers of the condition but they have always been incredibly supportive.

They understand the physical effects and know what I need to do in most situations, or even if not exactly why, they know to take it seriously when I tell them something is wrong or if I'm not acting myself because of a hypo. I think my girlfriend is the only one who really knows how much of a mental drain it is sometimes though.

Read Ted Lamb's complete story
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Heidi QuineDiagnosed at the age of 12 in 2001

School concern

My mum passed away when I was aged 11 and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year later after starting secondary school. 

I was suffering from constant dehydration, going to the toilet all the time and had no energy to walk up the school stairs. As an active individual, this caused some concern at school. A few people thought I may be bulimic because of my weight loss. I was never a big child to begin with and when I got sent to hospital after being diagnosed, you could see my skin and bones.  

After my PE teacher asked me if everything was OK, I went home and spoke to my dad about the weight loss. At the GP, my blood sugar was so high it was unreadable. I went straight to hospital and was put on a drip. I stayed there for five days until my dad and myself could complete my insulin injections and I was gaining a little more weight again. 
 

Read Heidi Quine's complete story
Nicole Smiling

Nicola PflugDiagnosed at 14

Learning to manage my diabetes

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just before my 15th birthday. It was my mum who recognised the symptoms, as she has a friend with type 1. I was taking part in a dance show at the time and she couldn’t believe how much water I was drinking, how often I was getting up in the night to go to the toilet, and how gaunt my face was becoming. 

I didn’t have a very positive experience in terms of my diagnosis and care. A locum doctor put me on metformin and sent me home, but thankfully my mum took me back a week later to see my usual GP, who tested my bloods and sent me straight to the hospital. 

Things have changed so much since then, but back when I was a teenager I was suddenly being told what I could and couldn’t eat. Who wants that at 15? So I used to eat chocolate in private and not tell anyone.

At the age of 18 I was discharged from the hospital and told to visit my GP for all my diabetes checks. I thought this meant I was getting better, so for many years I just winged it with my diabetes. I thought I was doing ok taking my two injections a day, which I had been prescribed at the clinic as a teenager.

However, I wasn’t checking my blood sugars; they were always high and I was embarrassed that I didn’t know what I was doing. It was only years later when I saw the practice nurse and told her that I didn’t have a diabetes team, that she explained how vital this was and that I needed to attend screenings. 

Read Nicola Pflug's complete story
Karen smiling

KarenDiagnosed with type 1 at four years old

Understanding type 1 diabetes

I remember being really thirsty and not being able to stop wetting the bed and not knowing what was up with me. Then I have a memory blank, and the next thing I recall is being in hospital and being given an orange to inject into. I was told that I’d have to do this every day for the rest of my life, but no-one ever explained why I’d have to do this every day for the rest of my life!

I was told I couldn’t eat baked beans or bananas, because that was the advice at the time, but no-one ever explained why. Nothing about my condition was explained. I moved from Ireland to the UK ten years after my diagnosis, and that was when I first started to get more of an understanding of diabetes.

When someone finally did explain what diabetes was, I felt really hard done by! I thought, ‘so I can’t do this, and I can’t do that.’ Injecting never bothered me. It bothered other people more. I thought, ‘well, I need this to stay alive.’ People would sometimes stare or even call me a drug user, but it never bothered me at all.

Read Karen's complete story
Pauline smiling

Pauline McCullochDiagnosed with type 1 around her 40th birthday

Being misdiagnosed

Back in 2010, just before my 40th birthday, a routine blood test showed I had high blood glucose levels. My GP asked me to change my diet and to take up more exercise. I was a little overweight at that time, but didn’t think much of it. I went back to the GP after three months and I had lost a bit of weight. The bloods were taken again and showed no improvement in my HbA1c. It was then that my doctor told me I had type 2 diabetes. I was shocked. How could this have happened to me? I was put on metformin and I saw a dietitian and off I went and tried to come to terms with the diagnosis and what that was going to mean for me.

Things went well initially but the next year, I had been on holiday in Florida and when I came home I felt really sick. I had been bitten by an insect and the bite had left a mark about the size of saucer, which I knew wasn’t right. I went to a walk-in centre near work, told them what had happened and said I had diabetes. The nurse tested my blood glucose and it was so high the meter couldn’t read it. She said I had to go to A&E straight away.

After arriving at A&E I was admitted to hospital where I stayed for four days until they could bring my blood glucose in to range. Thankfully I went in before DKA had set in. The consultant who saw me on the ward told me that my diagnosis was now type 1 diabetes. This was an even bigger shock than the original diagnosis. Now I was going to have to inject multiple times each day. It hit me like a freight train and I was really scared. When I went home and did my first injection, there were tears.

Read Pauline McCulloch's complete story
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