This Saturday will mark 5 years of me becoming a Type 1 Diabetic.
5 years on from lying in a hospital bed hooked up to fluids, severely underweight, sugars so high they couldn’t be measured, really very ill, days away from slipping into a diabetic coma, unsure on what the hell was going on.
5 years on from injecting myself for the first time. From testing blood sugars. From my first hypo at 2am sitting on my kitchen floor (yuck…still yuck).
So much has changed in that half a decade. Home, relationships, work, friends, passions, interests. Life is barely recognisable to how it was when I was 22.
All the while, my journey with Type 1 Diabetes has taken many peaks and troughs. It’s been a massive learning experience and I’m continuously learning something new about my own disorder on a weekly basis.
Today, 14th November 2016, is World Diabetes Day celebrated by thousands across the world as OUR day. A day to educate, empathise, share stories and celebrate how wonderfully different we are from those with a functioning pancreas.
I’ve had the delight and pleasure to produce many articles both on here and guest posts for various charities, other amazing diabetic blogs and companies with an interest in diabetes. For World Diabetes Day 2016 I wanted to produce something to sum up the last 5 years.
And I thought there was no better post than to write the five things I’ve learnt the most to help me being a diabetic with all of you reading here today.
So here goes.
When starting out I was jumping into the relatively unknown. I knew of diabetes from my Father also being a Type 1 Diabetic, but actually BEING a diabetic, this was completely new and not something you can really prepare for. So I set about reading and learning as much as I could. This wasn’t going away so I needed to get on top of the basics quickly and build from there. This is something I cannot stress enough.
The more you can theoretically understand about diabetes, the easier it will be to recognise what to do when things aren’t quite singing in tune and put what you’ve learnt into practice.
Speaking with other diabetics has been amazingly helpful too. To know you aren’t alone and if you’re experiencing something new and to discuss it with someone who might have been through similar, is incredibly helpful.
2) Track, measure, learn, repeat.
This is something that took me a while to get into the habit of doing, mostly due to pride of not wanting to know I was doing badly. I had to suck this up and get over it.
Test, test, test, test, test.
Once I got into the routine of testing regularly throughout the day my average sugars started to fall to much better levels and I was able to see patterns emerging during certain times of the day and after various activities like sleep and post exercise.
From there I could adjust my food and insulin intake accordingly and everything slowly started to become easier and I felt so much better on a regular basis.
3) Look after yourself.
I’ve said this plenty of times over the last 5 years. Being diabetic has probably made me the healthiest I have ever been.
It has forced me to watch what I eat, how I exercise, how I sleep and how I manage my stress. I’ve learnt all about good nutrition, how resistance weight training helps with insulin sensitivity, the difference between a bad nights and a good nights sleep and the changes I see in my sugar levels if I’m on top of my stress levels or not.
I’ve written plenty on the benefits of exercise and food within this blog and I am a firm believer that having a good, sustainable exercise regime alongside amazing food and getting lots of high quality sleep is key in good diabetes management.
Food is food and FOOD IS AWESOME!
4) Keep a close network.
I wouldn’t have anywhere near the level of confidence and understanding of my disorder today without the amazing support of the people in my life. From my wonderful family and girlfriend who are always there for me when it’s difficult and to help talk things over with me whenever I need help. To my friends who help keep my spirits high and keep me motivated. To the amazing people I’ve met online speaking via Twitter or other forums discussing their diabetes.
Having a supportive network has helped me more than I can put into words. There have been some incredibly tough times throughout the last five years and having people there who I know I can talk to and rely on has been awesome. Find those people in your life and cherish their support. It’s invaluable.
5) Embrace it.
I am extremely proud to be a Type 1 Diabetic. It’s made me who I am today. It’s made me physically and mentally strong. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s incredibly frustrating at times to have a disorder than I did nothing to deserve and am now taking medication for that has the potential to kill me if I’ve calculated wrong. Yes the hypo’s suck and the high blood sugars are bleurgh.
But this isn’t going away. And I’ve had to accept that and move on and just get on with it because feeling sorry for myself will never help. Acceptance is so important and once that’s done everything else slowly becomes easier. Talk to others around you. Do not be ashamed about testing and injecting in public.
You are the master of your own diabetes management. Be the best diabetic you can be.
Here’s to the next 5 years!
Happy World Diabetes Day 2016.
Until next time.