Adrian talks about being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and talks about his positive experiences. Adrian says Type 1 diabetes is just another of life's complications.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the end 1997, at the age of precisely 40. I have, therefore, lived about half of my adult life with the condition. I now find it quite hard to remember what life was like without diabetes, but I can genuinely say that I have not just survived, but prospered in a life with this incurable condition.
When I was diagnosed our children were 12, 10 and 7, so I was leading a busy family life at the time of diagnosis. Diabetes doesn’t stop a full, busy and happy family life. We have taken numerous holidays and days out in the UK and in mainland Europe, often involving much driving, and I think we have always done everything that a family would want to do.
So here’s my message for any newly-diagnosed Type 1s. It’s a shock when it happens. Diagnosis with diabetes can seem very negative, with lots of “don’ts” and “can’ts” and to be fair, medical people have to make sure you keep yourself well and don’t do anything to make things worse.
So how about some positives:
- It won’t even make you feel ill much of the time.
- It won’t stop you doing anything.
- You can eat whatever you want.
- You can refuse food you don’t want and blame diabetes – nobody will dare argue.
- You’ll get free prescriptions for life.
- You’ll get regular health checks for life.
- You get some really cool techie stuff: pumps, meters etc.
- You can eat sweets and claim it’s a medical necessity (it sometimes is).
- You can get out of a boring meeting by claiming your blood sugar is low/high.
- You will meet the most awesome people, your fellow diabetics.
I have lived and thrived with diabetes for almost 19 years. Diabetes caused a few weeks of adjustment, with some anxiety – more on the part of my family and friends than me, if the truth be told. But very soon after diagnosis, I resumed the busy and active life that I had always led, and I’ve just carried on that way.
Managing my condition is just a small part of personal care, no different from washing, shaving, going to the loo, getting dressed etc. It fits around what I do just like those other life’s essentials do. I’m not perfect at it, but I manage pretty well. I am hoping to be offered a DAFNE course at some time, as I still have much to learn about the effect of different foods on blood glucose levels, but apart from that I rely largely on knowledge and support from my fellow Type 1s.
Diabetes doesn’t make your life any worse than it was before. It just adds a complication, like so many other complications that life throws at you at various stages.
So my advice for anyone diagnosed with diabetes: find someone else out there who knows what it’s all about and connect with them. A problem shared is a problem halved? Well, as far as I’m concerned, a “problem” shared stops being a problem and becomes a source of friendship, support, fun and much laughter.
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