Type 1 diabetes was a mystery to me several years ago. Nobody I knew closely had it and I thought it was something that always developed in childhood.
My diabetes first appeared in pregnancy. A routine blood test revealed a high glucose reading. I was confused but told usually gestational diabetes goes away when the baby is born.
In the last few months of pregnancy I was checking my blood sugar and monitoring my carb intake. I then got told as my glucose tolerance test had been so high (17mmol) I would need to start injecting insulin. I hated needles and was incredibly upset. Not only did I have to learn to inject, I would have to inject into my baby bump! Cue more tears! The first time I injected I was stood in the kitchen crying and generally feeling very sorry for myself! In fact after the first few injections, I was fine. I got used to it very quickly.
Our first little girl Alice was born in March 2014. Over the next year I believed my diabetes had gone, but then by the summer I was losing weight, feeling shattered and noticing high blood sugar readings and thirst. I knew something wasn't right. By December 2014 I was diagnosed with Type 2 and told to watch my carb intake. I got to the stage where a sandwich would send my blood sugar sky high. I virtually stopped eating carbs, scared about what they were doing to my blood sugar.
I was finally diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in February 2015. At my first appointment at a new hospital, my (now) consultant took one look at me and said she suspected I was Type 1. Antibody tests confirmed this was the case.
I went through a mix of emotions when diagnosed aged 35. There was firstly exhausted relief – Type 1 made sense. I felt sad that life was to change and this diagnosis would involve daily challenges and a lot of organisation. My family have always been amazing and actively worked to understand the condition. I'll be honest, some friends left me feeling disappointed when I first told them, changing the subject and not taking the time to try to understand what a life changing diagnosis it has been.
After feeling a bit miserable to start with I decided to pick myself up and try to understand as much as I could about Type 1. I pushed to get into a DAFNE course as soon as possible and learning to carb count with the help of my dietitian really turned things around for me. I learned to enjoy food again and there's little I feel I can't eat now – I just need to know what to inject. I test my blood sugar a lot but also now have a Freestyle Libre, a sensor I wear on my arm.
I've also embraced social media – there's a whole community out there on Twitter and I often get answers to questions within minutes from fellow Type 1s. I also signed up to Diabetes UK and look forward to the Balance magazine dropping through the letterbox. I feel part of a community – it's not ideal being Type 1, but surrounding myself with others who understand what it's like makes me feel less alone.
Since my diagnosis two years ago, I've had my second daughter, Lara, who has just turned 1. My HbA1c is at a good level, my hypos are minimal and I've just been approved for a pump. It's a daily challenge, but one I'm willing to take on.
Katie is a baby and family photographer and picture editor based in London