One Year Since My Diagnosis -
When I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes last year, it was the end of my world as I knew it. I had just turned 30, I was 10 weeks pregnant with my 4th child, and there was absolutely no history of Diabetes in my family.
I’m ashamed to say that until it hit me, Diabetes was a disease I was only vaguely aware of.
I knew there were different types and I had a very basic understanding of what having diabetes might imply. But overall, in all my years of taking the beta cells of my pancreas for granted, I had overlooked the seriousness of this disease.
I was a busy Mum of two girls aged 9 & 10, and a boy aged 4. I had battled through a period of depression the previous year, after losing someone dear to me to Cancer, and so feeling tired & drained was nothing out of the ordinary.
Even when I developed other symptoms, such as sudden weight loss, excessive thirst, and increased urination; this didn’t set the alarm bells ringing. Hindsight is great… but it’s always late.
I went to my GP complaining of migraines, and only as I was leaving did I mention, nearly as an afterthought: ” Oh, by the way, I’ve been really terribly thirsty lately…” The GP did a finger prick, and my blood glucose was around 25 mmol/l (450 mg/dl). Fasting.
I was sent to A&E, where nobody would tell me what was going on. All I could make out when doctors looked at my charts was “DKA”. When I was eventually wheeled into a ward I was able to Google this mysterious term, “DKA”, and tried to read up as much as I could about it.
The following day I was sat down by a nurse, who told me that a) I have Diabetes and that b) It’s Type 1, and c) that I would be started on insulin injections immediately. She told me my HbA1c was 12.8%, that this was off the charts, and that she didn’t know how I was still conscious and functioning.
Once I had been started on insulin therapy with 4 daily injections, my vision was extremely blurry for about three weeks. This was extremely frustrating, as I couldn’t do any research about Type 1 Diabetes, and I also could not distract myself in any way, as I could nor read a book, nor drive my car, nor watch television, nor read text messages.
I was absolutely panicked. Above all, I was worried about my baby, and how the high levels of blood glucose prior to my diagnosis may have affected his or her development.
It felt like I had been thrown in the deep end. It was a difficult pregnancy, but my little boy was born by c-section on October of 2016, and he is a happy, healthy 7 month old today.
I think that by nature, her children are a mother’s main priority. Her own needs will always come second. Before my diagnosis, I had often skipped a meal or neglected certain of my needs to ensure my children’s needs were met first.
But since my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis –
I have, at times, had to put my own needs first, more often than not to treat a low blood sugar. It feels highly unnatural. It makes me feel terribly guilty as a mum. Especially when it is your newborn son who has to wait 15 minutes for his bottle and you cannot explain it to him, as you would with your older children. But I have no choice but to treat the hypos, time my meals, constantly check my blood glucose levels, take the insulin injections, and attend the medical appointments. Unfortunately, both in the short and long term; it’s do or die.
Luckily for me, I have amazing children. They have a good understanding of my disease, and they can even joke about it. An example: My son (4 at the time) and I were snuggled up on the couch watching something one evening. I had a packet of digestive biscuits, and I took one out of the packet to have with my tea. My little boy reaches out for the packet and says cheekily: “Well, I’ll have TWO, cause I don’t have diabeetus!”. We both laughed.
I am only a year into my Type 1 diagnosis and I’m still learning every day.
I think that when you get this type of diagnosis, you go through all the usual stages of grief. Which is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You grieve the end of your life as you knew it, but life does go on.
I have found great support on online forums and Facebook pages. Other, more experienced Type 1 diabetics have told me that eventually you really learn to live with it. And everything diabetes related becomes second nature. I look forward to that day.
Until then, I’ll just keep gnawing through the straps.