Diabetes didn’t hold me back in life
Having diabetes didn’t stop me doing anything. My mum and dad were great like that. They never said: “Oh he can’t do that because he has diabetes.” But sleepovers made me nervous. I worried about doing my evening injection and having breakfast the following morning and standing out compared to everyone else.
I’ve always been of the opinion that diabetes shouldn’t hold you back. You just have to take extra precautions. So always making sure you’ve got some hypo treatment on you and having your meter on you so you’re able to test your blood sugar. When my sugar levels are slightly raised, I run and join in with the children or just have a bit more insulin and test again.
I've been a PE teacher for 18 years now. In the early years when I was fresh out of university and still living in those uni ways, I think my blood sugar control maybe wasn't the best. But as long as you've always got hypo treatment on you, there's no reason it should stop you doing anything. In my office desk I've got three or four tubes of Dextrose and a massive pot I keep cereal bars in.
My wife’s a nurse and when we first started going out – even before I’d said anything – she saw my insulin pens on the table. I thought I’m not going to get away with anything in terms of my diabetes now.
Both my boys see it as normal. If they see me as having something because my blood sugar’s going low, it’s just known as Daddy’s having medicine because he’s not feeling very well.
My oldest is six and a half and I'll get him to help me. So he’ll scan the sensor on my arm or put my carb numbers into my meter. He knows if Daddy needs some sugar to either get me a drink or go and get the tablets – he knows where they’re kept. He’s got a girl in his class who has type 1 diabetes, so he doesn’t see it as something different.
I like to keep my children active and be involved. Exercising definitely helps me in managing my condition. I notice this when I'm not as active, for example during the school holidays when I’m not cycling to work.
Bringing diabetes into the open and dispelling myths
With the changes in diabetes technology, whether you’ve got something on your arm you can scan or a pump that's much more visible, the conversations are there to be had. And a lot of students are inquisitive. When I talk to them, somebody might say, “Oh, my uncle's diabetic, or I know someone, one of my neighbours is diabetic” and this sparks more conversations.
"I think there's still a lot of education needed. I did a lesson the other week and the member of staff that had prepared it had actually got their information about diabetes wrong. But we then had a productive conversation about it, which was good."
Occasionally there are still the odd comments, like, “Can I catch it? How do you get it?” and I remember a boy in secondary school actually say, “My mum says you're diabetic because you've eaten too much sugar.”