Imagine What It’s Like Living With Type 1 Diabetes
Imagine feeling like a human pin cushion from pricking yourself to test blood sugars. I can go through 10 glucose strips in a day sometimes; yep, I am “hardcore!” My fingers are so punctured with little black dots that, after some time, can start to scab over and peel away.
Imagine having to inject yourself or take a bolus via insulin pump whenever you want to eat. Imagine the dedication that requires. It’s easier than you might think to forget it one morning before a rushed breakfast or fret over whether you might have done it twice in a temporary (perhaps fried-brain induced) lapse in memory.
Imagine the comments fired at you on a regular basis, words that can sting no matter how inaccurate you know they may be. The stigma, the ignorance, the resulting sense of shame. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked if my diabetes was caused by me, or brought on because I eat too many sweets as a child or eat the wrong foods.
Imagine the paraphernalia you need to remember to take out with you whenever you go out. Needles and insulin pens, or spare pump cannulas. Blood meter, hypo treatment, ketone machine or ketostix, any additional medication. Small, glitzy evening bags are not practical for someone with diabetes, but I’ve managed to cram as much as I can into one anyway, and usually ended up forgetting or even losing something essential. I have actually forgotten insulin and testing equipment on too many occasions.
Imagine the loneliness among peers, the feeling different and out of place or disconnected. The burden of worry you cause others. The feeling of being incontinent during drunken nights out or parties when you need to keep checking your sugar levels to stay safe.
Imagine not being able to eat anything new without scanning the nutritional information and noting the carbohydrate content in order to calculate how much insulin you need. Oh yes, it’s hard not to notice the calories and fat amounts.
Imagine feeling emotionally and physically drained some days, the hypos that seem to keep repeating after you’ve had one. The high sugars that just won’t seem to budge and leave you feeling useless as a dead thing laying on the sofa
Imagine the very real complications of type 1 diabetes that can be devastating and debilitating. Retinopathy, gastroparesis, nephropathy, neuropathy, to name just a few. Your body fails you constantly. Imagine the guilt you might feel for causing such problems, for not being a “good diabetic.” The truth is that achieving perfection in the control of diabetes is as rare as spotting a swarm of flying elephants. Still, that guilt it there.
Imagine never feeling completely free. Never being able to pause, or ignore type 1 diabetes without ramification. The more you try to deny and forget it, the more damaging and ultimately fatal — if left untreated in the long term — it can be.
4,000 people In the U.K. go through at least some of every single day, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Just consider that. Think of us, think of anyone you know of with type 1 diabetes. Pause for just a moment with that thought.
To everyone sitting in the same boat as me: you are here and doing this. You are alive and fighting. Keep going, and know you are stronger than you think, and braver than you might admit.