Diabetes Never Sleeps – by Olly Double

I’m exhausted today, having spent the weekend at the Friends for Life conference in Windsor, organised by Children With Diabetes (CWD). It’s sort of like being in an alternative reality where everybody understands what it means to have a diabetic person in the family – or two in our case – and the stresses and strains it puts onto our lives every single day and night.

A reality where you don’t have to explain that diabetes isn’t something you grow out of, or that my kids didn’t develop diabetes because they ate too many sweets, or that just because you once had a diabetic cat it doesn’t mean you understand what we have to put up with. And a reality where all the food has already been carb counted by someone else.

For my two sons Joe and Tom, the weekend involved lots of fun activities, the odd session where they could learn a bit more about their condition, and a Halloween party. For Jacqui and me it involved lectures on the latest science of dealing with diabetes, the odd discussion group, and lots of meeting up with other parents where we talked about diabetes among many other things and – crucially – had a drink or two.

The weekend started with a bang for me, as I had to do half an hour of diabetes-related stand-up comedy for an audience of about 300 adults and children. I wasn’t entirely sure that this was something I could pull off. Stand-up requires a certain amount of shared understanding, because if they don’t get the cultural references which the gags and routines are based on, the chances are that you’ll lose them.

The set I’d worked hard on preparing – full of references to blood glucose testing, hypos, and HbA1C results – would not have worked anywhere else. Plus it had to keep the kids on board as well as the adults. As it happens, they got it. The fact that they laughed at things that no other audience would is a testament to just what an unusual experience it is to be surrounded by other people who actually understand what it’s like to live with diabetes.

But moving and exhilarating thought this all was, diabetes never sleeps. Both nights we were there, our hotel room was filled with the sound of Joe’s and Tom’s pump alarms going off, their tinny electronic sirens ringing out so regularly that it almost felt like a miniature 1980s acid house party. The combination of late nights and unusual activity patterns sent both of them on a nocturnal rollercoaster ride of high and low blood sugars.

Now it’s back to the everyday reality of getting on with the hard graft of managing our sons’ condition, surrounded by people who don’t get it and who tend to glaze over if you ever try to explain what it’s really like.

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There always needs to be some balance between humor and serious thinking. And just because someone is diabetic certainly doesn’t mean they can’t find some type of humor or fun with it, versus always being in a gloom and doom frame of mind.

There are lots of serious subjects out there and most can benefit from time to time from humor to lighten the weight.

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A good informative article about diabetes. I love the idea about diabetes comedy. It is not always politically incorrect to laugh about medical conditions. As long as we continue to fight about it, there is no harm in laughing about it. One might choose to be sensitive around those who have lost their loved ones due to diabetes, but laughing about it does not increase nor decrease the number of people suffering from this terrible disease.

Thanks for this post; your diabetes comedy sound like a great innovative concept. People should understand that it’s ok to laugh about medical conditions under the right circumstances. Taking the subject matter lightly does not always signal a dismissive attitude, rather it suggests the ability to recognise the positives as well as the negatives in life. Ultimately, diabetes will exist whether we laugh at it or not. Treating it in a comedic fashion does not worsen its effects or prevalence, in fact it could work to heighten awareness of the disease and the ways in which it can be prevented.

Great blog Olly. What a fab start to the weekend your stand up was. We all loved it from Grandma to my son age 7. Hope you will be back next year. Like Adrienne says wish we could all just live together all the time – so nice having people about that you knew your kids could turn to and they would know what to do to help!


We had to see the you tube clip but it was brilliant, conference was fantastic but was suprised there was no DUK stand as the leading UK charity for people with diabetes. The sponsors were fab and the company was marvellous, all those people who ‘get it’ no explaining things, just warmth and understanding. Keep up the blog!!!

100% underwrite what people have said above re: Friends for Life at Windsor 2010 Meeting. It is truly clever, truly human, to be able to portray this complex-to-look-after condition with such hilarity, yet mingled with so much new evidence & technology, that those of us present were filling our laughter bags like hamsters – in my case, to last for months!!
Thank you, Ollie, Jo, Gary, Laura, David, Geff, Fiona, et al. for your incredibly gift to me personally – I will promise to share it in equal portions to my patients & healthcare professionals who come for training in Carbohydrate Counting & Insulin Dose Adjusting today….
Now counting down the days until Oct 28th 2011……Laila xxx

Amazing start to a fab weekend, we all made Friends for Life and laughed out loud to Olly’s brilliant routine. So good wish I’d filmed it.

It is cathartic to laugh with Olly. Play your carbs right was suburb.
In the car on the way home, there was a news item that mentioned the word diabetes – I just responded “Diabeteth! Horwaay!!!”

Knackered here too Olly! You really kick started the weekend this year, pure dead brilliant – as we say in Glasgow!!! The Bangles will never seem the same again, lol!!!

For anyone who didn’t make it this year, you must come next year.

Friday, 28 October 2011 – Sunday, 30 October 2011
Beaumont House, Old Windsor, Berkshire

Sounds like a fab weekend, wish these sort of events were around when I was little, I think it would of helped my parents also!

Your stand-up diabetes comedy sounds good, wish I could of been there!

FFL was brilliant and Olly you were fantastic. Your stand up routine had us in tears we were laughing so much; the song at the end was the icing on the cake. I hope they’ve got you booked for next year!

Olly, your stand up was fantastic. Just what we all needed to start the weekend. Was lovely to see you all again.

Fantastic blog Olly. It’s so nice to read about diabetes from someone who knows and has lived it, rather than the many ‘professionals’ who tell you how it *should* be based on what they’ve read in books.
I was lucky enough to see the ‘live show’ at Friends for Life on Friday night. It was fantastic. To all be together and able to laugh about diabetes is amazing therapy! The whole FFL experience is truly magical.

Wow, just to add, Olly was awesome. The stand up routine was dynamite and so funny. Diabetes is hilarious, I think you opened with that and I now agree with you, if I didn’t my sanity would be gone I think. The whole weekend was a wonderful experience. I wish I could live with you all, all the time (well most of you :-) but would get up later in the mornings. Thanks Olly and hope you are starting to prepare your routine for next year (fingers crossed here). x

sorry to have missed your stand up… Would love to see it … Did you record it?
Great blog. Looking forward to meeting you and Jacqui

Thnx for sharing this gr8 weekend with us and showing it is ok to laugh with and about this dreaded D I had a wonderful time and learned a lot