Number 9 – by Helen Whitehouse


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Last time, Helen told us she was going to count down a list of 10 things that if she could, she’d alter about her life as a young diabetic and see if others agreed. You can catch up with her “Number 10“, and carry on reading, this time about going to clinic…

“Number 9 on my list is an odd one. Mainly because I can’t exactly put my finger on why I dislike clinics so much. But, as if it was intrinsically programmed, I can almost sense the day that the ominous letter is going to arrive – probably similar to when a dog can sense its owners are going on holiday and leaving it with the cat owners next door.

But anyway, from the moment I open the letter, panic sets in. Butterflies kickstart in my stomach, and, if I’m alone, I walk around my house flapping my hands going “ohmygod ohmygod I need to prepare” as if a diabetic clinic is a nuclear winter and I must hoard canned food. However diabetic clinic is no nuclear winter, yet no matter how much I tell myself this, the morning of the big event I feel like escaping from my bedroom window.

Then, comes the tense ride in the car. Sometimes I put on the radio and reminisce about how whimsical my life once was, and how if I survive this clinic, I promise to live every day to the full. I text my friends. I think about how they are off, having healthy pancreases and not having to go to clinic. My mother sometimes breaks my chain of thought asking if I have my glucose monitor. This only worries me further. I know I have it, but how do I explain that cheeky reading of 11 at dinnertime when we had biscuits in English?! Or that 4am low when I forgot to have my regular digestives and 250ml of milk because I was er, out on the town?

The hospital looms in the distance. I open the car door and take a massive breath. Courage, Helen. Courage. Life affirming music plays in my head as I stride over the car park. Then the clinical, sterile hospital smell hits me and I turn into a quivering mess. When the receptionist asks where I live, I forget. I tell her I am 12 by accident. I go to sit down and end up on an old ladies lap (I used my artistic license on the last one to demonstrate my utter fear, but it illustrates my point!).

Blood pressure is high, no matter how many whales and seascapes and sunsets I think of. I eye up the needle sticking in my arm ominously as blood is taken, feeling as if something has been stolen. Fear doesn’t lessen as I step into the consultants room. He greets me; “ Hello, how ar…” but I cut him off with “YES EVERYTHING IS FINE NOT FEELING ILL AT ALL, DIABETES? GREAT YEAH DOING SO MUCH GOT A JOB YOU KNOW SO BUSY AT COLLEGE IN ROTHERHAM HAHAHAHAHA” just because I want them to know diabetes is fine. I am fine. A perfectly fine human being. He holds me with a certain amount of contempt and amusement now, I feel.

He once asked me what I hated so much about clinic. Is it the needles? But no, years of diabetes, and my “Rebellious angsty teenager” phase, where I had a different piercing every day for 6 months (well, nearly) cured me of this. Am I intimidated in hospital surroundings? Well, a bit, but isn’t everyone?

I literally can’t put my finger on what makes me so scared to go. Most people sort of get over it. But not me. I know that I need to go, and that really, it’s for my own good. I just wish I could sort of escape them a bit.
Maybe it is because I associate hospitals with being diagnosed with diabetes, which is realisticially one of the biggest changes of my life (aside from accidentally dying my hair blue).

If I put my mind to it, I will achieve something bigger and it won’t be so significant.”

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