Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Letter To My Parents - In Aid Of Mother's Day

Mum and Dad

Seeing as it's Mother's Day I thought I'd take the opportunity to let you both know how much I appreciate you both.  So here goes...

I think it's hard for anyone who doesn't have to deal with diabetes on a regular basis to realise just how difficult it can be.  Although I know how it feels to have diabetes myself, I think that in the past I've underestimated how much it has affected you both too.

Being told that your three year old child has a incurable disease such as diabetes isn't what any parent wants to hear.  No parent wants to have to inject their child, draw blood from their fingers or force them to eat, otherwise they'll be ill or worse (remember how I used to hide my second piece of toast in my room, only to be found weeks later?!)  From the moment of diagnosis your lives were changed and I can't even begin to imagine the fear and shock you must have felt.  Despite this you both accepted it and tried your hardest to learn the in's and out's of my diabetes, in order to make sure that I was healthy and that my blood sugar levels were controlled.

Mum - Happy Mother's Day!  I know that the last 15 years haven't been easy for you, but I thank you for supporting me with my diabetes through them.  In all honesty I realise now that I didn't always help you in helping me.  I often thought that I knew best when it came to my diabetes and didn't listen to your advice when I should have done (I know you told me dozens of times that I needed to follow my fast acting hypo treatment up with slow burning carb, otherwise I'd drop again!) 

You have done so much to encourage me in taking care of my diabetes.  You even altered your diet to make sure that I was eating what I needed to.  You and I have had some 'adventures' with diabetes, from going low on the top of a cliff in Devon with no hypo treatment, to several hypo's on motorways (one resulting in me eating stale bread to bring my bg up!) 

Thank you for always reassuring me that, if I make diabetes my main priority, it never has to stop me from doing anything.  I know you used to hate going to the hospital for my check-ups because the doctors were judgmental - they never had any right to be.  You have done such an amazing job with my diabetes and without your input I wouldn't have the positive attitude towards it that I do.   Mum, you are an angel.

Dad, I know you worry about my diabetes care and I also know that over the past 15 years it's caused you a lot of stress.  I want you to know that now I'm older, I do take care of it and I do so because of how you have educated me.

I love how you send me links to diabetes websites with information about the latest technologies and the progress that is being made with regards to finding a cure.  Thank you for buying me books on diabetes and nutrition and subscribing me to Balance Magazine.  You take an interest in everything to do with my diabetes and that has encouraged me to be interested too.

I know that you worry because you love me, but you really don't have to.  Because of you I am eager to take care of my diabetes.  Again, I'm sorry that I haven't always taken notice of what you thought would be best but I listen to you now and you inspire me.  Dad, I trust you with everything.  You are my rock.

More than anything I want to thank you both for noticing of my symptoms, knowing that I had diabetes and for making sure I was diagnosed (despite being told by a GP that it was just a 'stage' I was going through).  You saved me and you have made my life a healthy and happy one.

We might not be the most conventional or nuclear family (okay, we're definitely not) but what we are is friends.  Thank you for bringing me up, for reinforcing the importance of controlling my diabetes and for supporting me always in everything I do, including writing this blog.  I couldn't have wished for better parents and I love you both with all of my heart.

From your Dais xxx

Monday, 12 March 2012

Retinal Rage and Making Mistakes

Last week wasn't the best.  Unfortunately new-found knowledge managed to put a downer on the majority of my days.  I'm now ready to blog about it and perhaps vent my frustrations about the current circumstance regarding my diabetes.  Apologies in advance, just in case.

I try to maintain a positive mind-set about my diabetes.  I acknowledge that there are far worse diseases to have and much more unfortunate situations to be in.  I also respect that diabetes, when well managed, doesn't have to compromise your general health or lifestyle.  That's why it just about broke my heart when I received a letter to inform me that I have developed background retinopathy.

Being told this at the age of 19 isn't what I wanted to hear, to say the least.  I felt upset of upset that I bawled my eyes out for about an hour.  Most of all I felt angry.  Angry that I'm 19 and I have background retinopathy, angry that I feel like I've tried so hard for 15 years to control my diabetes well, but more than anything else I was angry with myself for, what felt like, obviously not doing enough.

I find that there's a lot of guilt involved in diabetes.  I recently read a fantastic post from Meagan Esler at Diabetes Health that confirmed this to me.  I end up feeling guilty if my bg's are too high or too low or if my HbA1c isn't the percentage it should be and I feel guilty that my loved ones are affected by it almost as much as I am.  If I let it, the guilt surrounding my retinopathy could probably consume me.  I feel awful that I've allowed those ketones to even exist, let alone harm me.

So I spent a week beating myself up about this, but there has to come a time when you stop torturing yourself and give yourself a break.  I deal with the rollercoaster ride that is diabetes management every single day of my life.  Alright, so in the past 15 years there will have been days when I haven't carb counted correctly or I've accidentally given an insulin shot later than I should have done or I've eaten a chocolate bar or two.  Perhaps these mishaps are the causes of my background retinopathy - I'll never know for sure.

I refuse to live my life continually making myself feel bad.  Of course, I am making changes; I'm now trying harder than ever and making even more effort to ensure that my blood sugar levels are balanced.  I just think it's about time that we diabetics cut ourselves a bit of slack.  Why is it that so many of us end up, probably subconsciously, thinking that having diabetes deprives us of something that makes us all human?  No one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes and everybody is allowed to...yes diabetics, even you!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Oh, if there were a cure!

It's National Hope For A Cure For Diabetes I decided to get creative.

Whilst I was drawing my, what shall we call it...poster?  I started thinking about what I will do when a cure for Diabetes is discovered.  However, I always find this a bit of a tricky idea to conceive.  Because I was diagnosed when I was 3 years old, I don't remember any of the things I did as a non-Diabetic and so I also don't really have much to compare my lifestyle to.  So, instead I did manage to come up with a good few benefits of not having Type 1 Diabetes anymore...

ONE:  Freedom to eat when I like...or not eat if I'm really not hungry

TWO:  Not being concerned about having a hypo when I do exercise, go to the shops, go clubbing, sleep or do anything really.

THREE:   Not having to remember to make sure that I have injections, blood meter, testing strips, finger pricker, hypo treatment etc. if I as much as step out of the front door.

FOUR:   Not having to do mental mathematics every time I eat a bowl of pasta.

FIVE:   Being able to have the normal, mainstream kinds of fears that people have, like a phobia of spiders, rather than being absolutely petrified of one day losing my eye sight or being put on dialysis because of Diabetes.

SIX:   Not having to prick my fingers, stab myself with needles and draw blood from myself every single day, several times a day.

SEVEN:   Waking up in the morning in a bad mood simply because I got up on the wrong side of the bed, rather than because I've woken up feeling dreadful because my blood sugars are sky high and I've got a banging headache.

EIGHT:  Not having to repeatedly explain to the staff at McDonald's that I want a Diet Coke because I'm Diabetic and I have to have Diet Coke or I will be ill. Very ill.  I'd also like the option to choose a full-sugar Coke if I wish.

NINE:   It must be better not to have Diabetes, right? I mean, if you were to ask them, who on earth would actually choose to be Diabetic?  I'm assuming the answer is no one.

Today I am hoping for a cure for a Diabetes.  Today and every day.

If you hope for a cure, please make a donation to Diabetes UK