Dear Alison – by Helen May
You probably don’t remember me and the chance of you reading this is very slim. However, I have been thinking about you a lot recently as I read the blogs on Diabetes UK particularly those written by Olly and Helen. That’s because you were the only person I knew with diabetes… until I found out that I had it.
I remember you at primary school. At the age of eight or nine, I knew the word “diabetes” but I knew little about it apart from what I saw with you. I saw you spending your break times sitting outside the headmaster’s office instead of out in the playground running around like the rest of us. So I thought you were aloof and the sort who didn’t mix. I knew nothing more about you although we shared the same classes for at least four years.
Things have changed in the last 30 years so, Alison, I do not know what it was like for you back then. But Olly and Helen have opened my eyes to what it is like as a child today with diabetes. The balance parents go through to give you a normal life but protect their children from the hypos and hypers today, and the future risks. And the maturity children need to take at young age to manage something which could affect the rest of their life.
As the risk of being diagnosed with diabetes increases if it is already in your family, I wonder if you or other “grown-ups” with diabetes have to make any conscious decisions whether to have children? I read about the tight control a mother needs to keep on their blood glucose during pregnancy. And then when the child is born, I can imagine the question at the back of their mind whether this child will have diabetes like them.
So, Alison, I want to take this opportunity to apologise to you and your mother for an event I remember when we were ten or eleven. You and I were representing our school at the local athletics event. I had come back from my long jump to the area roped off for our school. I was cold and wanted my coat. It was not where I remembered leaving it so it took some time to spot it hanging up in the corner. So I ripped it off it’s hanger to see your mother giving you your insulin. You had been using my coat to shield you. All I thought about was how cold I was and how dare someone else take my coat. I like to think I’ve matured since I was that ten year old school girl and, if you need my coat to protect your dignity (for whatever reason – not necessarily anything to do with diabetes), I would be happy to lend it to you.
A fellow pupil of Harmans Water Primary School.