Living With Type 1 Diabetes: A New Leaf

July 24, 2016
living with diabetes

I write this blog post in the hope that by doing so, I might find the motivation to finally do something that I’ve been struggling to do for almost 20 years. Bby admitting the extent of my struggles to the world, I’m hoping that I might finally do something about them. I hope that I might finally be able to turn over a new leaf in managing my diabetes; by actually managing it for a prolonged period for the first time in my life.

I want to make a series of videos about living with type 1 diabetes. It’s been a goal of mine ever since I started YouTube. I want to raise awareness of the condition – most people are familiar with type 2 diabetes, but less familiar with the rarer version that I have. But I want to make these videos when I consider myself to be a reasonable role model as a diabetic; and 20 years into this life sentence, I still haven’t reached that point. There are a number of reasons for that – and pretty much all of them are my own fault. I can blame circumstances or other people as much as I like; but ultimately, it’s my responsibility, and it’s one I’ve dodged for far too long.

I’ll explain the medical jargon behind diabetes in a separate post; otherwise, this post will resemble War and Peace! For the record, that’s a book I’ve never actually read – the length is one of the many reasons I won’t read it. My reasoning behind this particular post is to shame myself into making a change – and sticking to it.

I’ve attempted to manage my diabetes properly countless times. I start with the best of intentions; doing the blood tests, monitoring the food intake, taking the medication in accordance with the previous two points. And to be completely honest with you, I notice no difference. In fact, I feel worse – to the extent that I give up. I go through this cycle generally on an annual basis – usually, it follows my review at the diabetes clinic (another point I’ll save for another day) and lasts for around a month before my resolve waivers or is destroyed completely.

Let’s get the shaming part over with. I hope no diabetes consultant ever reads this, for fear of giving them a heart attack:

  • Apart from the single blood test I did before writing this post, I haven’t tested my sugar levels in around 6 months. Possibly nearer 9 months. I have no idea.
  • My carbohydrate counting is non-existent. I know how to, I just struggle with adjusting the dosage of insulin to accommodate the carbs.
  • I forget to take my insulin on a regular basis. I’m incredibly ashamed to even publish that fact. But unfortunately, it is fact, and it’s one of many that I’m keen to change.

Many people might be thinking “how the hell can you forget to take medication that you’ve taken every single day for 20 years?” Or “why don’t you just get on with it?” Or the absolute stand-out “There are so many complications if you don’t manage diabetes properly – what are you playing at?” The answer to all three is pretty blunt – I don’t know. That must sound like the biggest cop-out in the world; like when a teacher scolds a pupil and asks them why they’ve misbehaved in class. Maybe I’m in denial about the whole condition. Maybe it’s just easier to live as though I don’t have it – in fact, I know it is.

Every time I attend the diabetes clinic, I feel misunderstood and treated like a child. And, at the risk of sounding like a 15 year old rebelling against her parents, the whole charade backfires profusely. But something has to change – I know that.

The reason for this sudden change in attitude? A completely innocent fly-away comment from someone I care about who isn’t used to me managing things my way. And for the first time in a very long time, it hit home. So I’m doing something about it.

As I mentioned earlier, I did a blood test just before starting this blog post. I had a blind panic (and a lot of shame) about the fact that I didn’t even know where my testing kit was. Turns out, it was in my drawer beside the rest of my supplies – anyone who knows me personally will understand my surprise.

The result was 3.9 – slightly too low. I’ve been conditioned since the age of 9 that my sugar levels must always be between 4.0 and 10.0 (I think the measurement is mmol – I have no idea really, that’s how bad things are). Normally (if there is such a thing) if my levels dip below 4.0, I get physiological symptoms to warn me. And I didn’t have them. Cue another panic. Funnily enough, in the 45 minutes it’s taken me to write this, they’re starting to appear. Maybe I’m not as broken as I think I am.

Following this, I’ve decided to phone the diabetes clinic tomorrow morning. I’m not due to attend for another 5 weeks – but I want to either 1) get some solution which checks that my meter is working correctly (and not giving me inaccurate results) or 2) get a new meter, as my one is years old and last year they spoke about replacing it and never did. Apparently some have USB ports which can download all the readings and export them into Excel or something fancy.

This notion to get my head in gear may well pass in the coming weeks or months. It’s very easy for me to lose motivation – think of someone on a weight-loss programme who sees no instantaneous results. But I need to get this sorted – for my own health. I’ll keep you posted on how I’m progressing – as well as filling you in on the background on how I got to this stage in the first place.

I’d better go fix my low sugar levels before I end up in a pickle – but if you read this much, thank you for reading. Let me know in the comments if you have any experience with diabetes; maybe you have the condition yourself, or have friends or family who are diabetic. Or, if you have any questions about diabetes, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them!

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