Count those carbs, keep active and get talking – by Emma Bostock
Facing up to the potential complications that diabetes can bring has led to Emma putting more focus on keeping her blood sugar levels within range.
I think it’s safe to say that when I was 16 years old and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, not only did I have no idea about diabetes, but I had even less of a clue about the potential complications.
I feel that when you’re first diagnosed (especially at a younger age) you spend a lot of time trying to work out how to keep your blood glucose in range whilst also feeling upset and confused about why it had to be you – or at least I did.
I’m now 27 and the sheer thought of potentially having to live with eye problems, amputations, cardiovascular disease or even kidney disease, to name a few, definitely keeps me determined to take the best control of my diabetes possible.
I don’t think I really began to acknowledge the complications that can come with diabetes until I’d had it for about 9 years (about 2 years ago). I suppose in a way, I didn’t want to acknowledge the potential risks and just always assumed that it was fine because “it wouldn’t happen to me anyway”. However, I was diagnosed with diabetes wasn’t I? And I definitely didn’t see that one coming.
For me, beginning to properly acknowledge the potential risks came through some type 1s that I follow on social media who are unfortunately living with complications – such as a woman in her twenties who is living with kidney failure. It sounds daft, but seeing their honest posts made it so real for me. It shocked me to see some of them at such a young age dealing with such awful repercussions. It didn’t change the way I live my life, but definitely encouraged me to focus harder on improving my blood glucose control and overall HBA1c result.
Working towards keeping your blood glucose levels within a target range is what can really help reduce the risk of these complications. I carb count, so I am always looking at the nutritional information on packets to see what the carbohydrate content is. I also like to weigh things and use the app My Fitness Pal to find out the carb content of something. It’s really useful! I love keeping active by dancing and going to the gym, so exercise is never a hardship for me. It makes me feel great and I know it helps with my blood sugar levels too.
I am really confident and open when it comes to talking about diabetes, so I find talking to almost anyone about it is enlightening. From discussing my blood sugar levels with my boyfriend, Bobby, to educating a friend who doesn’t know a lot about it. By talking about it, it keeps diabetes a positive thing for me and not particularly a negative one and this influences my ambitions to do well.
Diabetes is never an easy ride. There are so many factors that can affect your blood sugar levels and some of those are completely beyond your control.
However, you can’t necessarily live a mundane, repetitive and emotionless life in order to keep the tightest control on your levels – because at the end of the day you’re only human.
I personally love drinking wine and I would never cut that out of my life altogether. I know it’s not the most sensible choice of drink but it’s something that I really enjoy and I just have to think about carefully. I have learned through trial and error that injecting a small amount of insulin after drinking wine really helps to keep my levels more stable, especially before I go to bed.
Diabetes just requires some logic thinking and yes, sometimes I have to ask myself “do I really need that takeaway pizza?” or “should I really have a huge bowl of chips with that too?” because I know just what it’s going to do to those blood sugar levels.
I can, however, still live my life to the full, enjoy myself and reduce the risk of getting any complications by managing my condition well.
After 11 and a half years living with Type 1 diabetes I really do consider myself a proud member of the diabetic community and I am extremely passionate about informing and teaching others about the condition. I feel that diabetes is massively stigmatised and misrepresented and people just don’t seem to know the facts. If I can ever help in any way, I will always openly talk and educate.
I am more determined than ever not to get diabetes complications. I feel that no matter how hard diabetes can be, you can’t let it drag you down. You always have to keep your chin up and keep going. Don’t let it rule you, you need to rule it. Count those carbs, keep active and get talking.
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