Laura, 24, and Zoe, 26, have been friends all their lives. We asked them to open up about their friendship and the difference that having great friends can make – especially when Laura had the shock of her type 1 diabetes diagnosis last year.
When did you first talk to Zoe about type 1?
Zoe was the first person I text after my diagnosis. I was left alone in an examination room at the doctors and was frantically texting anyone who could offer immediate comfort. I knew she’d reply straightaway and tell me that everything was going to be ok.
She came over the next morning to give me a big hug and talk it through. It was so comforting to know that this massive thing that had completely taken me by surprise was affecting her enough to drop everything and come running over to make me feel better.
How does Zoe support you?
She’s always understanding when I need to go home and sleep off my pizza carb coma. She never lectures me about eating dessert. She’s my therapist when I have bad days, bad appointments, bad experiences, and always remind me of how I’ve got this.
Tell us about a happy memory with Zoe.
The first time I went out for dinner after being diagnosed was to a Mexican restaurant with Zoe. My whole life had changed but she was still there, telling me it was okay to get medical equipment out at the dinner table. We were also wearing sombreros, so it was impossible to be sad about my newest friend, diabetes.
The weeks after I was diagnosed she was a godsend, distracting me most days. Whether it was a cinema trip, dinner date or just a cuppa and cake, she made me feel normal, when my normal had completely changed.
What your advice for anyone who’s mates with someone with type 1?
Download a carb counting app so if their mobile battery dies or they don’t have signal, you can be a backup. Keep a stash of their favourite hypo treatment about. And whatever you do, never give them stick for eating dessert.
- Laura is a member of the Diabetes UK Young Adults Panel, helping us shape our content for young adults living with type 1 diabetes.
Zoe on Laura:
Laura and I have known each other our entire lives, as our mums are childhood friends. I think that gives us a true, solid friendship what I know many people aren’t lucky enough to experience. Our friendship really blossomed in our late teens when we started hanging out a lot independently of our family.
How did Laura first talk to you about Type 1?
Laura texted me from the doctors, just as she was about to be sent to A&E. My first reaction was sheer devastation for Laura. I had an uncle pass away from type 1 complications so I knew how truly life changing this would be.
In the first few months I tried to learn as much as I could about type 1. I felt upset that one of my best friends had the bad luck to be dealt this card.
I remember Laura having to hear about the struggles she may encounter if she wants to have children – not something a woman in her early twenties wants to worry about.
How do you support Laura?
I hope I support her as much as I can – from small things like tasting her popcorn in the cinema to see if it’s as sweet as usual to checking she hasn’t injected too much insulin to getting a place in the 2018 London Marathon in run in her honour.
Laura’s bravery inspires me. She has taken this diagnosis with so much strength and grace. In the first few weeks after diagnosis she was signed off work and temporarily banned from driving. These were extra blows that took away her independence. I wanted to keep her smiling by driving her places, buying her silly fuzzy socks and supporting the decisions she made about her type 1. There is no doubt type 1 knocks you down sometimes and I want to be there to bring her back up. There may be tears sometimes after her diabetes appointments, but I’m here for those tears, silent hugs and tension-breaking giggles.
What’s your happiest memory together?
We have so many happy memories together it’s hard to pick just one. One summer that sticks in mind is 2012, when I’d just got my new car – a Mini. It was so exciting for us both and we just drove and drove along country lanes listening to music, windows down, completely carefree.