I’m a Type 1 diabetic and was diagnosed in 1975 aged 5. It was quite rare at the time and nobody else that I knew had it.
Not many people really understand what Type 1 diabetes is, there’s been a big push for education about Type 2 but Type 1 is generally misunderstood. A lot of us get fed up when we’re told to cut back on sugar or eat better. Type 1 is completely different, it’s when your body no longer produces insulin and it’s not something that you can just get better from by changing your diet. I’ve now got an insulin pump which delivers insulin without me having to inject myself repeatedly. It continually monitors the sugar in a fluid called interstitial fluid, this is proportional to my blood sugar levels. I then give myself insulin based on this reading and what I’ve eaten. It’s so much easier as Type 1 is an inherently unstable condition.
Growing up with diabetes in Buckinghamshire has always been a positive experience for me. I’m under the diabetes team at Wycombe hospital and they have always been great, especially when I had my children. My GP in Stokenchurch has also always been good, it’s important that you have someone to turn to.
The main thing I think needs to change is re-education about the latest methods. Things have changed so much over the years and what was true at your diagnosis might be different now. I think a lot of people would benefit from being invited back to courses on self-care and management and informed of new ideas and medicine. A lot of diabetics don’t realise what they can ask for and you aren’t automatically told about all the services including clinics, foot services and dieticians. I’ve educated myself through social media and online. I’ve met new friends and we’re confident to support other as we all have the same condition, we chat and meet up and it’s a good support network. Not everybody has access to that though.
For someone in my situation, I would say take each day as it comes. It’s really important that you keep all the information that you’re given from day one but also go out and out and find people that are diabetic. There are communities everywhere and accessing groups online has been really helpful for me.
A new diagnosis is scary but there are other people to say look, I’m here, I’m 47 and I’m still alive.
I did rebel in my teens, I think everyone goes through that. It’s difficult to deal with, especially when your friends are doing what they like while you have to manage your condition.
It’s just important to remember that there is life out there and it’s not all scary.