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I want to show others with Type 1 diabetes that they can do what they want

Diabetes UK blogger Helen Maywas determined Type 1 wasn't going to stop her achieving her goals, whether trekking for gorillas in Uganda or leading a large technical workshop.

It’s silly o’clock in the morning and I am on a train travelling to London. Recently, I have found myself doing this a couple of times a month to attend a customer workshop or meeting where I will be presenting a software solution to a telecoms company somewhere in the UK, Ireland or Spain.

Whilst I try to make the meetings open and friendly, this is hard work and can be stressful: I am not great early in the morning, I am not a natural extrovert and the consequence of saying the wrong to a customer could result in a loss of a few million pounds for my employer. That said, I enjoy the sense of achievement when I push myself out of my comfort zone.

This desire to push myself does not stop in work: I have been sky diving, I travelled to Africa to help the locals build houses in the searing heat, I have sailed across the Channel in a force eight gale, I have been trekking and camping in the snowy Himalayas and, when invited to a friend’s wedding, I decided to make my own dress.

I am motivated by a number of things. One motivation is boredom: I need variety to entertain me and I know this means I will never become a true expert in anything. The other is to prove others wrong, For example, I studied Engineering because one of my male teachers told me women do not become engineers. I have no desire to go back and smugly prove he was wrong (actually, I do have a small desire but I know it’s petty). More so, I want to show other eighteen year old girls that Engineering is not a career just for boys. 

So, when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in my mid-thirties with no history of this disease in my family, I was determined it would not stop me doing what I want whether this was trekking for gorillas in Uganda or leading a large technical workshop with little time for preparation at work. And although I know everyone is different, I want to show others with Type 1 diabetes that should be able to do what they want which is why I started writing a blog for Diabetes UK.

Whilst diabetes may add to the challenges and stress it’s not going to stop me living my life 


OK, so I had to make some changes AD (After Diagnosis). I had to learn all about diabetes: the complications and how to avoid them; blood glucose testing and what impacts the results, I had to find a bag to carry my diabetes paraphernalia (jeans pockets were fine for house keys and credit card before), I have to be extra diligent about ensuring I have travel insurance,…. But mostly, I have to be better prepared all the time and learning as much as I can (before getting bored) helps me target that preparation. 

Being diagnosed with Adult Onset Type 1 Diabetes, there were different challenges compared to being diagnosed as a child. These are mostly due to having over thirty years of experiencing life without diabetes and not wanting to give anything up. Today is a classic example, BD (Before Diagnosis), I would whinge about getting up early but it wouldn't stop me: ten years ago, I would not be surprised about getting up in the middle of the night after spending three hours of the previous evening at the local climbing wall (sorry, forgot to mention climbing is another area I strive for the sense of achievement) to jump on a train for work.

Whilst diabetes may add to the challenges and stress (from climbing, from tiredness and from nervousness about the workshop), it’s not going to stop me living my life and doing what I would do if I didn't have diabetes.

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