My decade diaversary – by Sam Clifford
Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my diagnosis as a Type 1 diabetic – or to speak diabetically – my 10 year #diaversary!
A decade of living with a chronic illness, a hidden illness, an illness that requires hundreds and hundreds of calculations throughout the day and night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever, to keep me alive and well.
10 years since the reason behind 3 months of unimaginable, unquenchable thirst was finally explained. A reason to explain a dramatic weight loss that took me to a size 8 (a size never to be seen again!) The explanation for at least 6 toilet trips a night. Unfocused eyesight. Cramp in my legs. And did I mention the thirst?
A whole new language… Diabetes, type 1, blood sugar, insulin, injections, injections, injections every day for the rest of your life! My wonderful consultant apologising profusely that he had no insulin pens and would have to send me home with injections for the weekend, before unbuttoning his shirt and calmly, compassionately showing me how to do injections.
Sitting in the car while my mum went to pick up the first in a very long line of prescriptions. Dissolving into body racking sobs while on the phone to my boyfriend of a few months – who became my husband, father of my children and such an amazing supporter of my diabetes (even when he complains about night time hypos!) Injections, injections, injections – forever!
Three years spent on injections – a minimum of 4 a day sometimes up to 10. Trying to inject discreetly in public, testing my sugar so much my fingers resembled pin cushions. Learning how to count carbohydrates, a tough challenge for me when I barely understood basic nutrition and healthy eating in those days! Wonderful colleagues and friends who supported me every day from the beginning.
After a few years, moving onto insulin pump therapy – an intravenous machine which is constantly connected to me and delivers insulin continuously. An amazing treatment which is so advanced and so sophisticated – it’s like comparing an iPhone with all its capabilities to an old Nokia.
My gratitude to the NHS knows no bounds, the Royal Free Hospital has kept me alive and helped me to have two healthy, beautiful children in the face of terrifying risks for diabetic pregnancies. Being pregnant and diabetic is pretty much a full time job, managing the risks 24/7 in order to have a healthy baby – but so so worth it!
There is not one minute of the day when I don’t think about my diabetes. Trying hard to avoid a hypo (low blood sugar) which sends your brain into a cloudy fog, slows down your responses, makes you sweat, alters your mood – it’s easily sorted with a few swigs of my trusty Lucozade, but has often led me to situations where I need to take charge and can’t. Before interviews, trying to navigate myself through london streets, shopping, work meetings and many more other situations – not to mention night time hypos at 3am!
I’m very aware that this condition is something that I have to manage in order to be here for as long as I can. The risks of bad diabetes management are horrendous – eyesight loss, potential amputation of limbs, heart problems….the list is endless. But my consultant assures me that if I maintain my control I can hope to avoid all of these. In fact, he tells me I’m doing an exceptional job of keeping myself alive!
So why this long post? I always thought I would do something to mark my 10th anniversary as a Type 1 diabetic, but never quite got round to it! Thankfully #DiabetesUK decided to use me in a new press campaign #Mydiabetestip (to mark the launch of the free 100 things I wish I’d know about living with diabetes book).
Really, if anyone who reads this extremely long post understands a bit more about living with Type 1 diabetes and knows what the symptoms are – then I’ll be happy with that!
Happy Diaversary to me!