Diabetes isn’t the sweetest thing to have – here’s what I want you to know about it

My aim of this piece is to get people to understand that diabetes isn’t something that we can just ‘deal’ with, sometimes the injections, the low and high blood sugars, the tiredness just gets overwhelming.

Sometimes we just need people to be a bit more patient with us, a bit more caring and aware that we sometimes don’t function like ‘normal’ people.

I’ve had Type 1 diabetes since I was 10 years old, I started getting symptoms of Type 1 diabetes after I had an operation on my appendix.

I experienced many symptoms and still I told my parents I was fine. They could tell I was drastically losing weight and I was being sick in the nights. I was dealing with insane stomach cramps, headaches and dizziness. I was on holidays at the time and my main concern as a kid was ‘we would have to go home’ and ‘I’d spoil the holiday’ but my parents soon drove me to a hospital.

Little did I know I had DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis) and basically this happened to me because I didn’t know I had diabetes and I wasn’t taking medication to treat me (insulin). Because I wasn’t having insulin my blood was turning acidic.

I later on found myself waking up in hospital with drips attached to my arms and legs and nurses surrounding me. I was taught how to inject myself (although my mother did it for the first 2/3 years), how to take my own blood and see my sugar result and I was educated on the different types of food that would make me feel better and what foods to avoid. 

As a 10-year-old, these things didn’t bother me (at the time) but now things are different.

Doing my injections in public over the years has made me anxious of doing my medication in certain places because of past experiences where people have stared, laughed or even shouted over rude comments to me. I have suffered low blood sugars in public and people just mistake me for being ‘drunk’ or ‘just acting weird’ and it kills me inside when all I need is a bit of support or help when i’m feeling dizzy, weak or numb.

I have developed a skin condition through my diabetes called NLD which stands for Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum and doctors don’t really understand why it happens or how you get it but they know it’s associated with Type 1 diabetes and mostly found in women.

This skin condition has put my confidence down loads as I can’t even tell people what it is because not even the doctors know. There’s no treatment for it and sometimes my legs get swollen and sore so I hardly ever wear skirts or dresses out.

I always wear jeans or leggings so I know that it is covered up and no one can see my ‘ugly’ patches on my legs.

My hair is also falling out in clumps, I have been back and forth to the doctors for the past couple of weeks and it is due to stress, anxiety and a hormonal imbalance.

I sometimes have days where I just don’t bother eating something because I know I will have to calculate my carbohydrates and inject myself and it just seems like a reminder that I have it and seems like so much effort.

There are some days where I forget I have injected and I will do it again causing me to have a double dose and going into a hypoglycemic state.

When I am ill my blood sugars tend to be naturally high and takes forever to get it back to single figures.

I get moody, thirsty and extremely tired. People misjudge my attitude and moods and tend to think i’m over-dramatic because I complain about ‘always being ill’. But just because I look fine on the outside doesn’t mean i’m not suffering inside. Oh the joys of having an invisible illness.

I have had relationships in the past with people who haven’t been so understanding with my illness and I actually went through a stage of ‘pretending’ I didn’t have it so that I would seem more ‘normal’ to them. I missed injections, didn’t eat regular meals and was smoking loads.

My immune system was low and I came down with a bug and what came along with that? DKA and a body filled with Ketones. I spent a week in hospital with drips once again going through my body trying to flush all the acidic stuff out of my body. One doctor told me if I didn’t start looking after myself properly then I’d be shortening my life drastically. This scared me.

People say it’s easy if you control it. It never gets easier, you just learn to cope with better methods. You will never get rid of type one diabetes through Juice Plus, herbal treatment or exercise. You will never grow out of it or find a cure (not anytime soon anyway), so in the meantime let’s educate people on what Type 1 diabetes is really about – because suffering like this on a daily basis and knowing not many people know much about it is annoying and frustrating.

Over the last year I have realised that pretending I don’t have diabetes is a stupid thing to do, so I have started going to the gym, eating better and surrounding myself with friends who support and help me through my tough times.

I still get days where I feel depressed and my anxiety plays up.

There’s days when I will be sick for no reason or feel drained because I’ve over worked myself. We are not made to live without a pancreas, we inject man-made hormones to keep ourselves alive and balance everything out in the meantime only because we have too.

When people say to me, “Ugh I could never inject myself” well guess what? We have no choice.

It sucks, all diabetics sufferers experience different symptoms and effects and we all cope differently. All I ask if that there is more people aware that Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease that can cause a lot of related health problems and we are not lazy, we are not fat and we wont die if we eat a bit of sugar!

Education is key, and this is what is helping me become better at controlling it and becoming a healthier person. But it would also be nice for other people to be more educated so that us diabetics don’t feel so alienated when we don’t feel well or we are having an ‘off’ day.

It just helps when someone understands. You could change their day or even their life by doing so.

Words by Amy Chinnick

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