Is it just luck? – By Helen May
Diabetes UK shared my last post, which described how I have not suffered from diabetes, on Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, I received many comments. Some were in agreement but I was not surprised (although saddened) to read that, for many, diabetes is not the easy ride that I have experienced. You could say I have been lucky.
There are many reasons for our different experience with diabetes, not least because we are all different both physically and mentally. For example, being one of those nerdy kids who liked maths at school, has helped me to manage and stay in control of my diabetes. If managing diabetes required me to learn another language, for example, my life with diabetes would be much more challenging.
Diabetes UK discussion on Facebook (and, probably, Twitter but, I know if I signed up for Twitter, it could take over my life so I have stayed away) asked when we were diagnosed. Some of the respondents elaborated on the changes they have seen progressing from syringes to pens to pumps and from peeing on sticks to pricking fingers to CGM. Being diagnosed only ten years ago, I missed out on the “delights” of syringes and wee sticks. I may not be one of the “early-adopters” within the diabetes community but my pen and meter are small and easy to carry and use.
Another consequence of relative recent diagnosis is the amount of information there is about diabetes now. This has enabled me to learn how to best manage my diabetes without relying on the consultant’s checkup I have once each year. Throughout this information is the importance of controlling my diabetes now to reduce the impact in the future (fingers crossed I am doing enough) which has motivated me to keep it under control. The other point about the information available today is how it is, slowly, being used to educate people without diabetes to ensure we can live our lives to the full. Whilst I believe there is room for improvement, I can see how general knowledge of diabetes is better now than ten years ago and getting better. For example, most people I talk to know there are multiple types of diabetes even if they can’t remember what they are called.
Many of the respondents to Diabetes UK Facebook question could not remember the exact date they were diagnosed because they were young children (although parents remember the dates well). Being part of the minority in the Type 1 community who were diagnosed as adults, I was able to experience my (not very) rebellious teenage years without trying to rebel against diabetes but concentrate on boys instead. And my pancreas was able to manage the insulin doses as hormones changed the way my body reacted during puberty.
Reviewing the conclusion of my last post and thoughts triggered by the comments, I received: I still believe the media should not assume everyone “suffers” from diabetes. Yes, many do suffer. But, whilst living with diabetes is never easy and I would not wish it upon anyone, many do not suffer.
As for me, am I just lucky with diabetes? I am certainly lucky to have some character traits which make my diabetes management easier. But that is not the full story: the work that organisations like Diabetes UK put in to research and educate has also helped. And only time will tell whether the calm I have experienced for the last ten years is the calm before the storm. For now, I will not ignore the prospect of complications of inexplicable hypos (which could stop me exercising and holidaying and driving). But I will not let these thoughts dominate my life.