Sometimes since my diagnosis I have felt like my life is somewhat out of my control. Diabetes rules and controls a lot about me and I have no say in a lot of things anymore. Then one day my GP had a suggestion – would I like to be involved in research?
This set about primarily because virtually my entire immediate family, on both sides are, or were, diabetic. My Mum is a type 1, my Dad a type 2. I myself was diagnosed at 32, being told I had probably been diabetic since my teens or childhood. My maternal Grandfather was also diabetic and several other relatives on both sides of my family. In my family you’re almost the odd one out if you’re not diabetic! The research project he had in mind at the time was about the genetics of diabetes, so it seemed like we might be a good choice as a family.
I didn’t really need to think twice about getting involved. It seemed like an interesting project to be involved in and mapping out more knowledge of this disease can only be a good thing! It may benefit me one day and my little nieces and nephews if they are cursed by the same genetics, not to mention the millions of diabetics worldwide.
I can fight my diabetes in a few ways but they often feel futile, like I am battling uphill against something which is always going to be in control and I cant get rid of. But being involved in this research felt like regaining a tiny piece of control and fighting back.
I didn’t even have to do much, just a urine sample, blood sample and a few simple questions about my medical history. It took less than an hour but I felt great afterwards, knowing I was a part of something that was aiming to defeat diabetes some day. I feel like I can finally contribute something to this fight.
That particular study was conducted by DARE (Diabetes Alliance for Research in England), which started off as a local project in the south west but has now gone nationwide and has been running for several years. Since then I have joined the Diabetes Research Network and they contact me a couple of times a year when they need someone for a particular study. Most of them are just questionnaires done over the phone and only take 10 or 20 mins. They can cover anything from the standards of NHS diabetic care to more scientific studies about medications or the disease and effects. Whatever the study though, I know I am doing something positive about my illness and that gives me a great feeling.
Since research is something anyone can get involved in, its such a simple way to get involved in fighting back. I know we all lead hectic lives but 20 mins a couple of times a year isn’t much really. Personally, anything that makes me feel like I am fighting back and regaining a part of myself is worth the time and effort.