The Little Things in Life with Diabetes

 

Sometimes when you have a big condition like T1, it’s the little things in life that count. The aspects of diabetes that may seem completely trivial to others around us but are in fact some of life’s greatest achievements.

Moment #1 – 5.8

When you go shopping in Boots or the pharmacy, inevitably you will go past the diabetes section. (I was recently in Walgreens in America – their diabetes section was amazing!!!! It was a whole aisle’s length almost!) Also, inevitably, it will contain the test kits. Ever since I can remember, the number on the little picture of the monitor on the front of every single box was 5.8. Nowadays this has changed so for instance the one touch version IQ is 3.6 (why put a low/almost low number??? Surely this is not what we’re aiming for???) but the majority I find are 5.8.

So, this has become my all-time favourite number. I love it! I genuinely believed as a little girl that 5.8 was THE perfect number! I may or may not still believe this…. which means every time my own blood sugar pops up as 5.8 my heart does jump a little with pride as my blood sugar is not only good, but it is utterly AMAZING when it is 5.8 mmol/l.

Moment #2 – Insulin doses

This is a weird one.

(Yes, you could argue the first one is too, but hear me out).

I genuinely love it when my dual waves percentages split nicely. When you do a dual wave, you must select the percentage of the bolus you want to go in immediately and so also how much to go in over time. But for some reason, it’s quite an achievement to have a 60%/40% equalling something like 6.0u/4.0u. When it’s simple numbers and not something like 60%/40% being 3.6u/2.2u. These seem like random numbers! Well, they are kind of random numbers. But when insulin matches the info you put in, it’s like a mini achievement. Almost as if your insulin pump is agreeing with you! So, nice numbers are better. (Yes, I do realise I sound like a crazy person…….)!

Moment #3 – Fake flatlines

So, whilst a beautiful flatline on a CGM graph is a lot of hard work usually, occasionally (VERY occasionally) they will just happen for seemingly no reason. I’ll have eaten any meals, maybe done exercise or not been that focused on my blood sugars for the day and yet I have perfect bloods? Yes, admittedly it’s a good feeling to have put work in and be able to celebrate that by completely, totally ruining it with a ton of chocolate (turns out Nutella has more sugar than you even thought….. whoops!). But interestingly, it’s as equally good to check your sensor and be surprised by the reading of 6 for the last 3 hours. It’s like finding a pound coin. I found it totally by chance, it’s not mine and I didn’t earn it in the slightest. However… yay! I found a pound coin! Mine now! Finders keepers! Although I think finders keepers would be a given in this situation, considering it is my blood the sensor is monitoring. Anyone else wanting to claim my blood sugars would be plain weird….. though I think I’d give away that 15.7 I had yesterday.

Moment #4 – When a TV show gets it!

Type 1 diabetes is one of those conditions that is common enough it gets slipped into TV shows as plot lines, character development or just for a dramatic scene. Sometimes type 1 and type 2 are mixed up, a high (or low) blood sugar is miraculously cured in 5 minutes or the cause of diabetes is said to be due to being overweight. This is so frustrating! I totally don’t mind that diabetes is being mentioned, but if you state facts about conditions they should have been researched or at least proof read by someone with the condition, as TV is probably one of the biggest ways of raising awareness of multiple conditions aaaaand it’s annoying when a show you love gets something blatantly wrong, medical or not. I would feel the same if the show stated the sky was green. The sky is blue. Just like diabetes is not due to eating sweets. Right?! I’m actually not bothered if ‘diabetes’ in general is talked about, even though I know many people prefer the type to be specified, but as long as the basic facts are straight or nothing is wrong I just get much too over-excited that it is even on T.V. in the first place!

Here are some of my favourite mentions:

The Flash (Season 4 Episode 3) – A character has an insulin pump and a low blood sugar which I thought was pretty accurate. Also, being one of my all-time favourite shows anyway, I did almost faint over this one…… At the very least my chair almost broke as I fell off it in shock.

Silent Witness (Series 20 either episode 4 or 5 (Awakening)) – A ‘baddie’ is diabetic and it must be taken care of by the main character, I think there is a low blood sugar and even an insulin injection.

Body of Proof (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0P7iRCYCfo this is the diagnosis, there are some other videos too) – A recurring character, I think she’s a main character, is diagnosed and then treats it over a few episodes and I think there’s a set change! It is so scientifically correct too – I was SUPER impressed. It helps the actress has T1, she probably helped write the scene…!

There’s also been smaller mentions on Prison Break Season 1 Episode 1 or 2, Steel Magnolias, Hannah Montana,

Of course there’s been tons more not to mention the medical programmes or programmes involving emergency care such as Casualty, Holby City, Sun, Sea and A&E, Bondi Beach, 24 hours in A&E… I could go on. These have all dealt with diabetes really well multiple times each but if I started listing each episode of those medicine specific programmes I would be here all day!

There are big achievements with diabetes, like moving set site, going onto a new regime/insulin pump or conquering a fear. But, sometimes it’s the small things that keep you upbeat too!

 

 

 

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Growing up with T1D

Growing up with a chronic medical condition is definitely interesting. There are a lot of bad days, arguments, misunderstandings in the early years especially and plenty of unwanted doctors visits. On the other hand there have been plenty of good days, opportunities, friendships made and funny stories from mishaps. But when I look back at it all I realise how unusual my life must have been, and still is, in comparison to others’ childhoods. 

Actually Having Diabetes 

One thing that sticks out to me about always having had diabetes is that most of my earliest memories, if not all of them, are based in hospital somehow. The first IV cannula I actually remember getting when I was perhaps 3 is a good example. I have a very clear memory of being shown another little girl my age who had one in her hand which was all bound in bandages and being told how amazing it was and how it meant no more needles for a little while. That’s not really a normal memory is it?

In my first year at primary school, aged 5 or 6 ish now, I have the distinct memory of being sat in my classroom with everyone in silence doing a spelling test. Then I remember just gently leaning toward the girl to my left (I still remember her name!) and seeing her shoulder/lap getting closer as I passed out from a low blood sugar. I’ve been informed that it was not a slow and gentle situation and that my poor T.A. was in fact rushing to help me, but that’s how I definitely remember it feeling to me. 

It’s funny what your remember from those young ages isn’t it? Those two memories are but a few of many I have from hospital stays, bad hypos, random visits to various HCPs and trying new treatments. 

They’re not all bad memories though which is funny – I remember the moment I gave myself my first injection (one handed in my left arm no less!) at the age of 6, I cannot express how chuffed I was with myself! Sadly it was 2 weeks before I transitioned to an insulin pump so my newfound skills didn’t come in handy for long. 

Growing Up with Different Treatments

One thing about getting diagnosed extremely early means your answer to “How long have you been diabetic?” is always quite impressive. 17 years is quite a long time in comparison to many people’s answers, especially to others’ answer that are my age. But it means I’ve seen a lot of treatments. Mixed insulins, MDI, insulin pumps, old bulky CGMs, the new CGMs with low suspend, tons of test kits, many different types of sets and sensors plus different locations for them and now with the development of the closed loop/artificial pancreas/bionic pancreas on the horizon, I think I’m safe to say I’ve experienced close to everything. If I’d only been diagnosed 5 years ago there’s absolutely no way I’d have tried all of that list. 

Whilst I wish I hadn’t had the torture of the old Medtronic Sof Sensor (that we called a harpoon) and I’m sure my mum would’ve appreciated an insulin pump from day one as my blood sugars were not a fan of MDI, actually I don’t necessarily think it’s bad a thing that I’ve had so many experiences over time. I know exactly how each thing works plus how it works for me, how I have to alter things to my life at different stages and I’ve been privileged enough to see the progression of the treatments. 

So I’ve experienced all ages of diabetes (minus the ones I haven’t reached yet of course!). When a 3 year old is having to stop playing for their parent to test their bloods, I remember how that feels. When you’re walking though the doors of secondary school for the first time with no one knowing your history, I remember how it feels. When you’re having a glass of wine for the first time and you experience your first alcohol induced low, I remember how it feels. 

There isn’t one piece of advice I would give to another diabetic looking at my childhood. I could argue why I prefer having been diagnosed so young but also I could equally argue why I don’t like having been diagnosed so young. There’s positives and negatives to everything in life! But I would say this:

Life happens. Diabetes will have entered everyone’s lives at different stages and really that doesn’t matter. We’re all in it together once we’ve been diagnosed with diabetes anyway. For me, it was very young so I’m able to look back at it all and see just how much it’s influenced my life and who I am as person which I personally find very interesting. One thing I’ve definitely realised is it’s okay that most of my earliest memories involved diabetes or hospitals in some respect because they’re my memories. Diabetes is a part of my life, but it is my life. So I’m okay with that. 

Controversy: Complica(ting/tion) Thoughts 

This is a controversial blog post. I know people may disagree with me on this topic or even change their thoughts about me, but that’s okay. I’ve always blogged my own honest thoughts so that is what this post is. 

Neuropathy. 

Retinopathy. 

Kidney failure. (Nephropathy?)

All these long, complicated words are thrown around a lot in the world of T1. Some people don’t even know what those words mean (they’re basically a foreign language (I want to say Latin….?) so I don’t blame them!) but others are experts on them and the issues associated with them. Some people may have a diagnosis of one or maybe they’ve been warned their A1c is risky so these long and complex words could become reality sooner than they realise. 

Me? My knowledge of them is basic. I know what the words mean and the body part the issue occurs in – that’s about it. I don’t know how you live with the conditions or the symptoms. I also don’t know all the in depth information or science behind them. Complications are a very real problem for lots of diabetics, but until they’re right on my doorstep they don’t seem to be a concern to me.  Is that wrong? I don’t know. 

Yes, these conditions may be hanging over all of our heads as a little threat of what could be to come if we’re not up to scratch with our T1 management but that doesn’t mean I want to read up on all the horror stories you hear (let’s be honest, who’s ever been told a story with a happy ending which involves the complications of diabetes!) Yes, that may seem ignorant. Yes, you might think I’m crazy for not wanting to be prepared or prevent them even more effectively by knowing what they are and what their early warning signs are, but the honest truth is this: I have no interest in knowing about potential complications. I don’t think I’ll get complications. Why would it be me? So who would want to live life with something like retinopathy on your mind because you may or may not get it in the future? I know I don’t want to.  I am not worried about developing ezcema (big in my family) or asthma (also a favourite in my family) or insert any medical condition there, on the off chance I may or may not get it either. 

I don’t see older diabetics (or younger!) with complications and think “That could be me, I’d better avoid that!”. In fact it doesn’t even enter my head. I don’t see complications as warning signs because treatment and equipment available when many of those with complications were diagnosed was likely very different. Plus, those with more recently accumulated complications can be due to a dozen reasons and not necessarily diabetes and I don’t live a replication of their life so in theory I won’t be like them. Right now I’m quite fit and healthy so what are the odds of me having complications compared to thousands of others with diabetes, especially as my control is ok for now.  

You may read all this and think me an idiot with my head firmly in the sand. You may also read this and want to educate me on neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy but I’m telling you the honest truth. I don’t know much about these conditions because I’m not expecting to be diagnosed, ever. I know there’s a chance, but I don’t live thinking about that chance 24/7 and I’m happy with that. I don’t need to know the ins and outs of things I don’t plan on needing to know. 

Please feel free to question me on this, I know it’s controversial and you may have completely different opinions to me but this is just an honest account from a 17 year old. Like, comment and share to get in touch with me or discuss it with others!

Also a disclaimer – I know there are other complications possible but I chose to name the three most talked about (that I hear most often).  


Another disclaimer (because I can) : pregnancy is a whole other issue in terms of complications etc and I do think about this but that topic is a whole different blog post. Nothing I’ve written here applies to may feelings on pregnancy!

Final disclaimer: This is in no way meant to offend anyone with complications, if I have I sincerely apologise. That is not my intention, these are merely my thoughts on how I deal with diabetes and who knows what will happen in the future. 

Surviving Secondary: My 7 Tips to Help You Help Your Teen 

As a kid, summer is honestly one of the best things ever invented! No school, no homework, no uniform and tons of fun. Instead you get to enjoy days out all over the place, sleepovers with your besties and experience what feels like absolute freedom in comparison to the long and arduous days you’re used to with school. It’s so long too, at 11 years old it feel like it goes on forever. 

But sadly it doesn’t. September is right around the corner. School again. For almost every 11 year old September means secondary school. It’s genuinely one of the scariest experiences in your child’s life, because it’s the first big change (that they’ll remember)! So diabetes just makes it that little bit harder, let’s be honest here though – when does diabetes make anything easier?!

So here are my 7 tips and tricks to help your 11 year old survive their first few months at secondary and how to help you keep your sanity intact in the meantime……

Tip #1: Remember socialising is higher in priorities than blood sugars. 

Blood sugars may well be on your mind 24/7 when they start secondary. You’ll probably fret about whether they tested before their meal, whether they’re giving insulin every hour (or at least testing that frequently and giving insulin when appropriate to) with every high blood sugar and you’ll definitely wonder if they’ve had hypos posing a problem to them. 

But I can guarantee that is not what was going through my mind in my first week. Or most weeks actually. I just wanted to make sure I was making friends, trying to be likeable and funny and mix with newfound peers. I was more concerned about finishing my food quick enough to keep up with my friends when they left the table to go and wander round, not whether I’d tested and given insulin. 

Diabetes simply won’t be at the front of your 11 year olds mind. Yeah they may be a bit worried about finding their feet with the independence of managing T1 themselves to begin with, but they’ll be way more concerned about their social lives for the majority of the time so don’t forget that!

Tip #2: Introducing it to friends is hard. 

Telling other people that you have a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week chronic medical condition that you have to manage yourself and that it has a name with connotations of obesity, sweets and self infliction is honestly one of the hardest things. Actually saying it is the easy part, the hard part is not knowing what their reaction will be and not knowing whether they’ll just completely write you off as a friend because you’re ‘defective’. But one way or another people will find out or at least notice something is up, so I personally think it is better to tell people. It’s how you go about doing that though. 

I ask one thing of you as a parent –  don’t demand or press that they do it a certain way! Some people like to do classroom talks or assemblies to tell everyone for safety reasons, some people like to just tell peers randomly. Others prefer to wait until it comes up in conversation or hide it completely. However you like to do it, remember that actually when it comes to secondary school it’s not your choice – it’s your child’s. You can have meetings with their teachers so that staff are aware and give them ideas on how to approach the subject but when it comes to social circles it’s their choice. The best thing you can do is support them through it and ask them how it went. 

Try not to worry about this because when they find the people they want to tell and feel ready, they’ll do it. Trust your child, they know how they feel about it. 

Tip #3: Make it a part of who they are.

In some respects with this, secondary school is much easier than primary. Generally schools will let you buy your own bag, carry your own books, wear a watch or even a bracelet etc. So incorporating your medical kit into your uniform becomes much easier, because you have your belongings on you anyway!

But I think the important thing is to make it not stand out, because it’s easier to go and show someone your medical bracket or reveal that in your makeup bag is a test kit and not mascara rather than try and hide a clinical looking kit bag with needles or wear a medical band that actually isn’t your style of jewellery normally. 

So make it all not stand-outish to begin with. Many don’t like diabetes being a part of who they are but at least give them options. They’ll find out how they like to keep their kit and show others their diabetes themselves, whether that’s subtly or just being open with their kit. 

Tip #4: Ask your child how their day went before their bloods. 

I have written about this before….. As I said earlier in this post diabetes may be at the forefront of your mind but it won’t be at the forefront of your kid’s. And if it is at the forefront of their mind they really don’t want it there. 

So when they get in the car after a long day at school (throughout secondary – doesn’t matter what year group they are this will always apply!) ask them how their day went. How did they do on their test last week? Did they have fun in P.E? Have they made any arrangements to see friends soon or would they like to? Did mrs so and so have her baby yet? What’s the latest gossip, who’s dating who now?

You know what’s not in that list? Diabetes. And it never should be. Unless you think they’ve gotten in the car with majorly low blood sugars or you’re literally about to go and do something like hardcore sports – diabetes can wait! If they want to tell you how their blood sugars were today, they’ll tell you. It can wait until you’re home until you ask how their bloods were during the day or whether they think that trial you did with breakfast paid off at break time etc. 

I realise some may be concerned about blood sugars that spiked from missed boluses or completely missed blood sugar checks but interrogating them as soon as they get in the car simply won’t help. 

Diabetes may be a piece of the puzzle but it is not the whole picture. 

Tip #5: Support don’t berate.  

This tip isn’t specific to school – it’s throughout school and life. I know the first thing you want to do when your kid tells you they hit 21 at 10am from not bolusing for their cornflakes is to immediately ask “Why didn’t you bolus?”. You probably also want to say “Don’t you know what happens when you get ketones or raise your A1c too much?” or “This can’t happen again.”. Whatever you want to say and however concerned you are by this – don’t say it!
I know I’m asking quite a big thing here. But by questioning why something happened immediately, telling them off a little, when you look so disappointed in them or start to list every outcome and effect you’re really not going to get anywhere. Not with a teenager. Don’t you think they’ve been through all that in their own heads already? They’re kicking themselves so much that you being frustrated too, or showing them you are, doesn’t help. 

Support them. Help them rectify the problem to begin with. Then address perhaps why that could have happened, think of methods to reduce the problem in the first place. But one of the most important tings to do? Remember that if they’ve had a bad diabetes day – they’ve probably had a bad day with something else too. That needs just as much support as the medical problems that day. 

I know all you want to do is ask them why they did that thing to cause that blood sugar, but they’re already annoyed at themselves so support them. They don’t need added negativity.

Tip #6: Don’t expect perfection.

I know I’m attempting to make your integration to secondary school easier with tips and tricks, you’ve probably had lots of chats with the school and your 11 year old already in preparation and you’ll have put tons of mechanisms and alarms or schedules in place to prevent to many mistakes. 

But it will not go to plan. By any means. Mistakes will happen, insulin will be forgotten, somedays you’ll both want to scream, shout and cry. 

That’s okay. 

Go with it. 

Don’t expect perfection, because it isn’t acheivable. Life gets in the way – both of your lives. But that’s okay. 

Tip #7: It gets better.

This is more of reassurance than a tip. Moving up to secondary school is terrifying for you and your 11 year old (although in completely different ways). It will be rocky and it will take a lot of negotiating and navigating to stay upright. 

It won’t be easy. But you’ll get there. Take each day as it comes. When it does goes wrong, tomorrow is a new day and you start over. 

Finally, it does honestly get better. I’m at a point with my mum where I can just walk in the room and tell her I’m 23 and haven’t been going down yet and ask how much should I give in an injection without worrying whether she’ll get angry. 

Yes, sometimes she’ll get annoyed and yes sometimes we disagree over things I have and haven’t done medically. But I’m not worried she’ll have a go at me because I know I’ll get help first and foremost. 

So it gets better. 

There’s a dozen more things I could tell you, but I don’t have room for anymore. The most important thing I can tell you now is this:

– Trust your child.

– Support them through the good and the bad. 

– Mistakes will happen but that’s okay. 

– Everyone is different. These tips are from my own personal experience and your experience may well be different, so the best way for you to find out how your 11 year old likes things to be done is by just asking them. I promise we don’t bite!

I hope I’ve given you some helpful ideas on how to start navigating secondary school! If I have please feel free to like and share my post and if I haven’t go ahead and ask me a question in the comments! I’m sorry I didn’t post for a while – I had a lot on my plate with exams but now I’ll be back a bit more frequently:) 

Weight Management with T1 Diabetes

It’s that time of year again. You guessed it. Everyone is after that elusive “summer body”, talking about eating leaves and fantasising over abnormal coloured drinks. Oh and don’t forget repeating that they should take up another sport. Yeah, I am guilty of having all of these ideas too. However, I only just finished my Easter eggs thank you very much!

In all seriousness, trying to manage weight is very difficult. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. But try throwing in some insulin here and there, hypo treatments all over the place and difficulty exercising because you almost have to consume the amount of calories you’re trying to burn in hypo-preventing snacks throughout the day. It’s certainly a challenge. 

The thing is, the majority of diabetics spend a lot of time telling and educating others on how T1 is nothing to do with diet, weight or eating too much sugar which is absolutely true. However, it has a huge element of it that is about food and exercise. I know some will disagree with me because diabetes is NOT caused by lifestyle, but you have to admit a large portion of T1 is about food. 

We spend our lives counting carbohydrates, adjusting insulin with exercise, avoiding extremely high sugar food when you have high blood sugars (well, sometimes……), treating hypos with lucozade and of course still having to see all the media attention that lifestyle causing diabetes still sadly gets, despite it being a misconception. 

So who can blame me that I think about weight a lot when I’m having to think about food so much? Problem is, it is RIDICULOUSLY hard to manage weight gain and loss with T1. Its just part of it. It doesn’t not make life easy. It’s so hard knowing that every time I’m sat there with a biscuit in my hand that my friend who also has a biscuit will find it much easier to burn those extra calories. I know that since about the age of 10 my weight has been climbing (naturally not excessively) but it’s not gone down. The number on the scales doesn’t seem to budge, up or down! It’s very odd. I only put two and two together when I started eating a shed of salad and cut down on sweet things about a year ago when no matter how hard I tried my weight remained constant, even when I binge ate for a few days getting frustrated it hadn’t moved. I don’t know how many people find this but it’s getting increasingly frustrating. I’m damn sure it’s to do with being on insulin (currently a lot of it too). 

On top of this, when I do try and burn off the snacks that keep me going during a long revision stint, sometimes I have to consume more calories after exercising than I burnt  during, trying to combat hypos! Burn 500 for instance, then consume 600 in lucozade half an hour later! 

So T1 and weight management are not friends. Not in my life. And it can be so hard, because my life is about numbers with blood sugars, carbohydrates and insulin doses that I don’t want to be counting calories or minutes exercise too! But you can’t do the easy gradual weight loss stuff with slight diet changes, because it simply doesn’t happen.

There’s perservereing and beating your challenges with everything with diabetes, but this is one that I can’t figure out right now. And I don’t have the time in my life to dedicate lots of thought and effort into it either. But there we go. You can’t win everything. 

If you have experienced similar issues or feelings please feel free to like, comment or share!

Friendship with T1D

I feel so lost. 

Diabetes and I have a funny relationship at the moment, because I have completely lost contact with the diabetes world it seems. 

Many people live their lives with T1 just as part of their life – testing, giving insulin and going to appointments. But that’s perfect for them, they don’t feel the need to socialise in the diabetes world and that’s fine by them. But for me, I’ve grown up going to events, going out for dinners and just generally being involved. However, with GCSEs then a levels amongst other extracurricular things I’ve been picking up, plus life happening of course, I have no time in my life to do any of this anymore! It’s funny how you take things for granted until they’ve gone, right?

I always knew knowing other diabetics was important to me, but I had no idea it was this important. Simple conversations about a painful set change, how each of your bloods had been recently and laughing over the mishaps are so much more than just conversations. And don’t forget about the heart to hearts over the more serious side of diabetes, although few and far between they also have their place in conversations between those with T1D. What others don’t hear is the unspoken understanding and feelings that are shared by diabetics. It simply isn’t the same telling a non-diabetic, no matter how much they know, because it is just different being the one with diabetes. 

Those without diabetes don’t quite know the frame of mind you have to be in to do a set change or what it feels like to have a painful one set you back. They may have had a set change done or know how it feels to put one in someone, but they don’t know what it feels like to do it every 3 days to themselves. Equally, a fellow diabetic knows the frustrations and emotions you go through with diabetes on a daily basis, no non diabetics I know understand that. They may have a child, sibling or friend with it but those are different feelings to that of a diabetic. 

I’m not disputing that it may be as hard to be the non diabetic in the family or how hard it is to know how to help your diabetic friend – it’s just different. And after a while it simply isn’t the same talking to so many non diabetics when you need to hear maybe even the same words but from a diabetics mouth. 

“I know” means two completely different things from a diabetic and a non diabetic to me. 

I really, really miss those connections I used to make with people and the ease with which you can be diabetic (yes that sounds weird, but I personally find it more comfortable to be diabetic around other diabetics!). Don’t get me wrong, with certain groups it is okay  and natural to be diabetic like my family and closest friends, but it just isn’t the same as with other T1s.

Another group I find I relate to is others with medical conditions. I have more than just diabetes so I fit completely into that world too! It is a similar knowing connection and aconversation about each others experiences (differences and similarities) really goes a long way. It’s lovely knowing you share thoughts and feelings about medical things you’ve each gone through but that isn’t enough for me. Friends I have with other medical problems such as those with CHI but different treatments or even others who aren’t anything to do with diabetes or CHI, they help me in their own way that diabetics can’t. But I also need the support and knowing of diabetics that know exactly what your day to day life struggles and triumphs are really like on a first hand basis. Honestly, I need both. Because I fit into the diabetes world and the CHI world but I also fit into the world of just other medical problems, so I need people to chat with from both! I never realised this until recently, when I lost a great deal of the opportunities to find these people who are clearly so essential to me. 

I don’t know how many diabetics find they feel like this, or if they do how they are different to me. But, I do know this:

Don’t take your friends for granted. Both unrelated to diabetes or completely involved as a diabetic themselves. Some of the people you meet through having diabetes and other things are more important to your well being and happiness than you might ever realise. Love them, appreciate them and let them know. 

Independence with Type One Diabetes 

This isn’t an educational post – I haven’t written about how to gain independence, these are simply my experiences and feelings about it all. 

Independence. It’s an interesting concept when it comes to T1. It’s an interesting concept without T1 too but I’m not experienced in that area so I’ll stick to what I know!
What is independence? When should you/will you get independence? Do you want independence? Is independence safe? How do you get independence? 

Life is supposed to be pretty straight forward. All these questions are supposed pretty easy. “When you’re ready you’ll know” or something similar is the typical answer to most of those questions. You hit teenager and start to meet up with friends on your own, have your own house keys, make your own way to school, start using public transport alone etc. Eventually you’ll move out and go to uni or something of the sort. Simple, right? Try throwing T1 in the mix and it gets a tad more complex. 
Google defines ‘Independence’ as:

The fact or state of being independent. 

Personally, I don’t think that one is very helpful at explaining what it means…. so I searched again. Dictionary.com shed a little more light on the matter. 

‘Independence’ is, according to Dictionary.com:

1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.

2. not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free

3. not influenced by the thought or action of others

So these subdefinitions all head along the same lines – it’s freedom from others essentially. But how does all this relate to T1 or differ from the norms?

Well, I’ve had problems with independence since I was about 13. Simply because that’s when I started wanting it. At that stage a large portion of my friends were walking to school together, with their own house keys and own agendas (that seemed) completely different to their parents’. I loved the idea of that! We were choosing our GCSE options at school during this time so if I was being asked to make these huge decisions about my future, surely I could just walk down the road unsupervised? Right?

All things like walking to various places by myself posed the same problem (and still does). Hypos. Walking just crashes me, I can be perfectly fine wandering down the street and decide to pause and test and I’ll be 2.1. It’s not every time, but it’s enough to be a concern. So how could I possibly walk home with people who weren’t equipped to deal with lows like that, who didn’t know to make the decision to stop and sit when I would want to blindly carry on? (Yes, I’m one of those people that would carry on as to not be a bother to others. It’s stupid but true…) I just wouldn’t be safe. (Plus I’m a complete ditz and was rubbish at keeping in contact with my mum so she was never sure where I was or how I was doing). So I got very jealous of my friends and their independence. There were countless other examples that I just used to get frustrated by, as I know I have friends who reached certain stages of independence years before me. 

Issues with my independence, or my perceived lack of independence, have evolved with my lifestyle. Now it’s all about alcohol, travelling by myself and university arrangements amongst other things. Probably the biggest annoyance is getting around by public transport. Although I’m very grateful my mum plays taxi most of the time, I badly wanted to be able to walk up to the station, get the train there and go and socialise. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve had the opportunities to do that so this is no longer an issue for me thankfully. 

However, I’m constantly striving for more independence and to not need help. But it’s so difficult when in the back of your mind you know if you have a hypo, a severe one, there will be a problem. It’s not just the severity of hypos with the dangers and consequences of them, but it’s also the symptoms of lows affecting judgment, coordination, the ability to think and know what you’re doing. At that point you’ll definitely need help. The thing is, when you’re trying desperately to gain independence and yet it feels like so much is stopping you, it feels extremely limiting. Those are the times that I really feel like T1 does affect my life and my capabilities. 

Even if it’s due to the safety issues of walking as a teenage girl or travelling in the evening, even if it is simply down to, for instance, there being a train strike so I can’t get from A to B by myself logistically it will feel like it’s my diabetes stopping me. It always boils back down to T1 even when it is only a tiny factor in a bigger problem or not involved at all. It is always in the background making me think twice about every plan I make or pushing obstacles in my way so it will always be the issue in my mind. It’s very frustrating. 

But, when I really sit and think about it I feel like independence isn’t complete self sufficiency. It’s not independence when you’re away from your parents or when you’ve been shopping with friends without any hypos during your travels. (Well, it is – but it’s not always only that). I think it is options. Independence to me isn’t deliberately choosing to be alone because that’s silly, it’s using the resources available to me to stay safe and having the option and the tools to be alone and have my own life separate from others but equally if someone is offering to be with you or help you, taking that opportunity. That’s still independence because you’ve chosen that of your own free will. Plus all the time I rant about wanting more independence or feeling limited, I do have independence. I am free to make choices about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. I’ve noticed that the ability to do that and wanting to do that will happen at different ages for different people, when they feel ready they pursue it more and gain those experiences that develop that independence, then they will find their independence. 

So, I think independence isn’t  necessarily actions, it’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that comes and goes with what is happening and how much help or support I need but it always is there and is always growing as I go forward in my life. I might be alone or I might need someone there for my safety or even just want the company and feeling of security. But either way who’s to say that I’m not being independent? I chose that path myself. 

I realise this was a waffley post, but it’s a bit of a waffley subject to me! So please feel free to ask me any questions. Please don’t forget to like, comment and share:):)