When numbers become meanings by Natalie Welsh



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Life is all but a number, and this time I’m not talking about age. Life for diabetics is all about the digits. Those tricky little numbers between 4 and 7 are the ones we blissfully hope for. Like the countdown for Christmas, with a prick of the finger and a wait by our glucose meters, as patiently as we can pursue, for those painful 5 seconds which feels like 5 hours, to pass. Counting down like a ticking time bomb, until our fate is sealed and we’re hit with being hypo, hyper or a pleasant in between in which we do nothing about but wait for one of the two to take place.

Either one of which is not so good. Hypo or hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars) means that it’s time to indulge in those sweeties in the cupboard or that chocolate biscuit we’ve been eyeing up all week. It’s 100% guilt free, one which cannot be frowned upon. It’s without having to shamefully contemplate the after effects of being too high, (hyper or hyperglycaemia) and realising its time to use up zero energy by star fishing on our beds for an hour or curling up in a ball and feel accountable of the gluttony we just committed.
Sounds alright you may say, but contrary to belief, this is all overridden by the symptoms we get before it happens. The only way it’s describable is like being drunk and ill all rolled into one. The shakes from fingers to toes, which makes it incredibly hard to grab that much needed sugar. Wobbly legged and all.

Then there’s pesky carb counting, but more numbers us diabetics have to exceed upon. This means staring religiously at packaging, before its cooking, while it’s cooking, and adding figures up if there’s more than one ingredient. Guess right, your golden, you just want to scream hallelujah, throw your hands in the air and thank the lord that everything is going your way for once (diabetes has a mind of its own) with that perfect monitor reading. However… guess wrong, and you’re in for… a treat? Well, not really. As above, neither low nor high readings are walks in the park.

These insulin ‘shots’ before we eat are a fundamental part of our day, and if three doses wasn’t enough, breakfast, dinner and tea, we need a whole new type of insulin to get us by for 24 hours. So that if you’re still counting, is four. Yep, four times we need to inject our defenceless bodies with this clear liquid, all thanks to our defective pancreas.

Upon writing this I’ve approximately nursed 38 hypos, pricked my finger 230 times, injected over 400 times and spent 4 nights in the hospital all within 3 months of being diagnosed.
So think of me, wherever you are, and wherever I am, at 7pm every evening, I’ll be sticking that 4mm (one last number) glargine filled needle into my beloved now pin-cushion derriere.

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Hi Natalie

I’ve had Type 1 for 30 years as of next week. I love the numbers game. I’ve calculated I will have had around 45, 264 insulin injections, 78,840 finger pricks and 66 HBA1cs.

My butt is like a tea bag with its thousands of perforations. Sometimes when I prick my finger, holes that have previously healed open up too.

Roll on the day they invent a pump that can calculate the dose according to your BGL with no necessity to count carbs and it’ll do al the hard work for us.

Keep smiling and know that you’re in good company. We’re all in this together :-)

Hi Natalie!

I know exactly how you feel!!!! I got diagnosed when i was 21 back in Feb 2011 and it was a shock! I am still getting used to it! nobody else really understands though as i do not know anybody with type 1. But i am constantly carb counting, taking injections, checking my sugar, trying to lose weight……agh! :( Anywho, best of luck with everything!

Hi there your blog is so true am 31 and was diagnosed type 1at 18 and it ruin my teen years and was a horrible time for me. Also my baby sister was diagnosed age 2 and is now 12 and I care for her. She is so inspirational to many young people she has been doing karate for 6years and came second in Scotland for kamite and kayaks also my dad is type 1 and was diagnosed at 24 he’s now 54 and having many problems with his circulation and walking my mum is the rock of the family and deserves a medal for looking after us. She works as a nurse at our local hospital. She must be fed up going there with my dad and little sister to the diabetic Clinic. People don’t understand how hard our life’s are. I test my bloods 4 Times a day and 4 injections I feel this disease is ruining my life. I really need help and the docs just tell me to deal with it. I try too but it can get depressing. My life is full of numbers or doctor appointments. Anyway just though I’d share some of my life with diabetes. Take care Jamie Wallace.

This is very good and quite funny! As a type 1 diabetic for 13 years I suppose we can only laugh at this! But I do have to say after being on 2 injections for most of my diabetic life, last year i changed to carb counting and 4 injections a day and my control has never been better…. however my derriere,arms, legs and tummy are not my best friends! Keep going xx

Natalie I feel for you, i have been diabetic type 1 for nearly 18 years (theres a number) I injected 5 times a day (another number) blood tested at least 4 times a day, I am also on a constant battle to lose weight so what with the stones/pounds (numbers i dont like) doing weight watchers which is all about numbers and weighing I am totally ruled by numbers!! Your description is accurate and amusing (to me). I have switched to a pump which whilst I have lost the daily injections is more numbers for testing!!!!

It will get easier, hang in there and always keep your sense of humour! Take care and the most important numbers are those Hba1C ones…..