Lying there in my hospital bed around 4 years ago with a very new piece of life changing information.
I was now a person with Type 1 diabetes and the emotions I was feeling ranged from numb, to being scared, to worrying about how it would effect the people in my own life.
It’s a diagnosis that many of reading this would have had at some point in your life.
I remember that the first couple of hours and days were a complete blur. Plenty of information, lots of talking, a large amount of new fancy medical supplies and a simple how to guide of testing blood sugars, writing them down in a little book and being introduced to insulin. Being told that you’ll have to do inject and prick yourself with various needles number of times a day. For every day. For the rest of your life.
And I imagine if you’re new to all this, you’re feeling in a very lost place, very insecure and scared.
I certainly felt overwhelmed.
But trust me on this. This will be the least you’ll ever know about your diabetes, whether it be Type 1 or Type 2.
Testing, testing. Always testing.
Looking back on it now, I think the most important first step is that you need to take your time. There’s no real downplaying this – Type 1 diabetes changed my life and it’ll most likely change yours too.
For me – it was the mental side of things that hit me first. The unknown. The fear. The what am I going to do? Can I do this? How can I do this forever? It’s these initial emotions you’ll have to deal with. Take your time over the first couple of days, allow yourself to try and come to terms with this.
The next step. It’ll be learning and doing the basics. Take the information you’ve been told from the professionals you’ve spoken with and start implementing them into your life.
I’m a massive believer in that you are the master of your own diabetes management. No one knows your body better than you and no one will know your Type 1 Diabetes better than you.
The basics are similar for everyone though. The symptoms will be similar, the reactions to medication and food and the advice on how to manage and live with your condition.
Yet the fine tuning will be entirely individual. Remember, this is your body and no textbook can give you every answer but there is plenty you can do in order to live a healthy life with Type 1 Diabetes.
My biggest piece of advice. Learn as much as you can – you don’t need to become an expert but a good understanding and increasing your knowledge on Type 1 and/ or Type 2 Diabetes will only help you.
Learn the warning signs of low blood sugar. Learn how to build a good healthy meal. Learn how to test your blood sugar and when best to do it. Learn how your body reacts to the insulin and start to adjust levels.
Find out what works for you.
Having diabetes will most likely have an impact on every aspect of your life. It’s a good idea to start educating yourself sooner rather than later.
Selection of Reading Material on my Desk
Your diabetes is exactly that. It’s yours. So pay attention. Learn how your body reacts to the food you eat and medication your taking. Be more mindful of how you feel throughout the day whether it be first thing in the morning, being stressed out with work, your commute, when you eat, throughout your workout window, before and after taking insulin or before you go to bed.
Take a note of your glucose levels throughout the day. When I first started I noted my glucose levels first thing in the morning, before each meal, two hours after the meal and before I went to bed. This will allow you and your diabetic specialist/ doctor to fine tune your insulin based on your lifestyle.
Note Taking During My Honeymoon Period.
It needn’t be complicated. Just keep it all simple.
It’s worth starting to educate those around you as well. Don’t feel alone in this and don’t try and take on the burden of this by yourself. I know that the help and support of those closest to me has only helped me with my condition. You’ve got to be testing and injecting yourself throughout the day, it’s worth making everyone aware of why you’re doing it and how you’re doing.
Get organised. You’re getting a lot of new information and a lot of new equipment. I have a shelf in my bathroom with all my current diabetes equipment that I’m using day by day on it and then a drawer packed with spare needles, lancets, test strips and a shelf in my fridge for all my spare insulin. I make sure that I have my repeat prescription with my pharmacy so I never run low on anything and that a weekly or fortnightly check on everything is carried out just to make sure that I have enough of everything.
I make sure I have insulin pens at home, in my bag whilst I’m commuting or at the gym and at work.
What’s also really really important is something in close proximity on you at all times to treat low blood sugar (hypo). Trust me, if you haven’t had one yet, you will at some point no matter how good you are. Make sure you have an instant hit of glucose somewhere near you whether it’s glucose tablets, sweets or a sugary drink.
You can’t account for every single situation but a bit of work to make sure most bases are covered will go a long way.
What’s very helpful is some form of identification that lets everyone know you’re a diabetic via a medical alert bracelet, necklace or card and what to do if you’re found in a state of low blood sugar.
I’ve also found that prepping food is so much easier the evening before to account for my meals the next day. So an example below is making my next day post workout meal and lunch at the same time as my dinner. It’ll allow to know exactly what’s in your meal and you’re in complete control.
Those Around You.
This is really important. There’s so much physical change that’s going on with your body it’s easy to neglect the mental side of things.
Use the people around you who care about you for support.
I remember feeling very overwhelmed at first, but having the support of my family and friends was really helpful and it took a lot of the weight off my shoulders. Being able to talk it through with them, knowing they were there for me – and still are – is very comforting and has made a lot of it much easier.
Build relationships with your medical team. Your doctor, your specialist, your nutritionist, even a well trained PT and if the opportunity arises a psychotherapist. You’re going to need to use some or all of them a lot over the next few years and beyond so starting this early will allow them to help you. That’s what they’re there for.
Finally, use social media. The Diabetic Online Community (#doc) or the hashtag #ourD on Twitter is rife with people in a similar position to you. Use us. Talk to us. I assure you you are not alone.
If you want to find more from me or have a chat find my links below or leave a comment! Thanks.
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