D is for Diagnosis – Lucy Thomas


I was 13 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes – not that it was a straightforward diagnosis in the slightest! During October half term, 1998, on holiday in France I developed the most outrageous thirst which refused to go away – this continued for about 6 weeks, gradually getting worse and worse. Neither my mum nor I knew this was a symptom and on top of that I was having a really awful time at school and my mum was convinced I was ‘putting it on’ to get time off.

Eventually it go so bad (as well as the thirst there was severe weight loss, vomiting and the most horrific tiredness!) that mum took me to the doctors who said (and I remember this clearly) ‘I don’t think it’s diabetes it’s more likely to be something with the stomach’ and told my mum to take me to our nearest A&E which was 45 minutes away in Truro. The drive there was one of the longest of my life, little did I know but by this point I was slipping in and out of consciousness (I thought I was just sleepy) and the drive there consisted of my mum shouting ‘Lucy stay awake!!!!’.

A morning in A&E including X-Rays, ultra-scans and some blood tests confirmed there was nothing wrong with my stomach – it was Type 1 Diabetes and one of the worst cases the doctors at Treliske had ever seen, apparently. I was whisked off to a children’s ward connected to all sorts of machines and told by the nurses ‘look you’ve got a lovely bed by the window’. By this point I was beyond caring and just wanted to lay down, which I did and quickly slipped into a coma for about 24 hours before coming round to the doctors telling my mum that she was lucky she bought me in when she did as I probably wouldn’t have made it to the weekend.

However all of this would have been avoided had my family and I known about the symptoms but we just thought, who goes to the doctor if they’re thirsty! Now of course I’m fully educated in the matter and can never stop going into a slight panic when one of my friends declares that they’re really thirsty.

15 years on and I rarely give my diabetes a second thought – it’s now just part of my daily routine and whilst it does sometimes present it’s challenges it’s certainly never stopped me doing anything!

The one positive thing that came out of having such a dramatic diagnosis is the fact that I never want to feel that ill again. It was awful and the immense delight of feeling better was so overwhelming that ever since I’ve done everything I can to make sure I don’t jeopardise my health, to make sure I’m never that ill again.

It’s just not worth it.

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1 Comment

  1. John Howe says

    Lucy, I too had a similar experience,having left school at easter at 15 in 1955 I was working as a junior lab tech at Manchester University.As december approached I started being thirsty (as you said nothing wrong with that),but as Christmas came it was getting worse.New year came and mother decided to take me to the GP’s,He must have had have a clue but said nothing, just ask me to return the next day with a sample of urine. I never went back as I past out in the early morning the next day.
    I awoke two days later in hospital, the first hospital to come into the NHS called Park hospital (now Trafford) connected to a drip and being told that I had diabetes. I spent close to a month on the ward, went home with a diet sheet of 2500 calories, Insulin,syringe,needles, bottle of surgical spirit, a small set of scales,an appointment for a months time and a cherrie wave.Going back to work a few weeks later and got on with life.
    I was fortunate to have a brother who worked in a hospital lab and it was he who told me how important it was to look after myself,he explained about all the problems that can occur with the condition and I took it to heart.
    I do everything I can to help improve diabetes services helping run a support group,talking to patients,looking at research project with the DRN ( Diabetes research network) several other committees all to do with diabetes.
    I also talk to second year nurses at university about living with the condition and what it has meant to me, being able to raise a family and have grandchildren.
    Now 60 years on with the diabetes and just getting my medal,you can live a good and happy life it just requires you to have a certain amount of determination to do so .John

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