We just have to adjust… – by Helen Whitehouse


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So, I am sat here at this exceptionally late hour of ten past twelve with a bowl of fortifying cornflakes, after recovering from a night time hypo. Ooh it’s all very exciting being up at this time. Well, actually lie – I never actually went to bed. But, it does give me some amazing reflection time…

Christmas has developed into an extremely odd time for me – this time four years ago I was ill with undiagnosed diabetes – all tired and sleepy, drinking water by the bucket load and my skin was just falling off in chunks. Despite my tiredness throughout any task in the day, at night I was unable to sleep, constantly needing to drink. So the cycle repeated itself; I was tired, then not sleeping, then tired…

My school life suffered simply because I just spaced out of anything. I wasn’t eating properly at dinner times therefore my weight had begun to drop through that and a combination of ketones scraping away at my fat resources. And I also had lots of big scary Year 11’s to contend with. Ooh scary. Seriously, have you ever tried being 4’11 with a bag approximately the same height, stumbling around corridors looking for your English lesson like a blind kitten amongst super powered panthers?! Year seven is a strange year.

It was the second week of school after the Christmas holidays. I was particularly looking forward to it because we were making pizza in cookery. I had it written in my planner and everything (I have since discovered that after year seven, planners become obsolete and turn into more useful things, like things to throw, things to stand on, things to eat…) and I had to take all the ingredients on the bus to school ,then the pizza back. By the time I got home, I had time to put it in the fridge before the whole massive diagnosis type thing happened. It was a bit of a blurry night, filled with blood tests and a noisy hospital ward, but I met my amazing team and they got me pretty much sorted, setting me off on injections and blood tests, doses and novo mix… it’s just a process which takes immense adjustment.

So, the journey started. At first, I had issues with the clinics – panicking about everything, not wanting to sit down, somehow not appreciating the fact that I was missing half a day of school… The special room in which to do injections, sometimes casually passing one of the others from Kirk Balk. Oh and sometimes having hypos in lessons, having to shakily explain to teachers why you had to go, many of them never quite grasping your issue.

Taking dextrose into PE lessons. 3am tests. Having to adapt to weird sleep patterns… But to be honest, I met a lot of great people which I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I remember at first my friends being paranoid, I mean, every time I coughed they were asking if I needed insulin, sugars…but it’s only because they care.

It’s nearly four years on. From a small Year seven to a still under averagely heighted Year 11. I went onto basal bolus soon after diagnosis, and it’s pretty much a perfect regime to suit me because I know how to sort out my doses. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; diabetes has never once held me back. Ever.

I did Duke of Edinburgh with my friends, sleeping in a canvas coffin and eating pot noodles; I go to many, many gigs in various small places, occasionally coming out with minor injuries; I go to parties, festivals, like anyone else. Of course it takes more care, but it becomes so much a part of you, your pen practically becomes your pancreas.

Something that stuck in my head was one of my best friends saying to me when I was sat on the bus, casually jabbing my needle into my tummy, “ I forget your diabetic you know, you just do it” because really, that’s what we all aim to achieve.

We just have to adjust.

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It’s great to see all these positive comments. Our son James was diagnosed almost a year ago at the age of 9. This is his second auto-immune disorder. At diagnosis he sat in his hospital bed and said “Well, if it is diabetes I’ll get used to the injections and then it’ll just be normal”. What an amazing child – we just take our lead from him. He is now a Cathedral chorister and has just auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent – go James, go!

What a great, positive and enlightening blog!! My 8yr old
son was diagnosed last July and from day one we have tried to live
with a can-do attitude, making adjustments but not major changes
and so far its all working out, reading your blog encourages me to
know that we can continue with this attitude into the future,
no-one can stop us but us!!!

Thanks for sharing your experience, it reminded me of when I was first diagnosed, and the first day back at school. You are right you do learn to live with it being part of you, and definetly do not let it hold you back!

Such a superb and frank blog! Thanks. I’m mum to Imogen who is 5 years old and is type 1. Immy was diagnosed at 4 after a period of sickness. Her diagnosis was a double whammy for us as a family but we have since turned it around and now live with this condition. Imogen gets on with her life, with diabetes, just like you. I will read your article to Immy, she will understand it, just like she does diabetes. Thank you.x

Absolutely loved ur blog!
As a type 1 diabetic of 13 years (diagnosed at 17) i have never let it hold me back in any way.
Of course it takes time 2 adjust to taking insulin, checking sugar levels etc but when u do adjust the worst thing u can do is let diabetes control your life.
Learn 2 live with it as part of your life, not as the be all and end all of your life.
Its just something u happen to have.
It’s not who you are.

My son is 4years old he was diagnosed with type 1 11 weeks ago your blog has made me see there is light at the end of the tunnel. You should be very proud of the way you deal with your diabetes and that you’ve not let it hold u back. X