May the fourth be with you – by Alex Jones
“Star Wars Day”, a date which manages to celebrate word play and one of the biggest pop culture phenomena’s all at the same time. I think if we’re honest with ourselves, the joke has worn a little thin, but it’s the 40th anniversary of the original film next year, so who am I to put a stop to it now.
It’s also a date that sticks in my memory for another reason; it’s the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
A bit of background about me, my name is Alex; I’m 25, work in digital marketing and freelance as a music journalist. I recently discovered that I had lost two and a half stone over just around a month, so decided to pop to the doctors to see if everything was kosher.
Turns out it wasn’t.
It’s a strange experience receiving life-changing news, despite what they say on TV, it all happens very mundanely. There’s no cinematic montage, it doesn’t fade to black and there’s no cliffhanger pause at the end of the key sentence…
“You have diabetes.” DUN DUN DUNNN!!!
Nothing like that, instead, it just happens. The nurse explains how things are now and after a few tests and lengthy instructions on how to keep yourself from hypo-ing, you’re on your way!
That’s not to say your emotions aren’t knocked a bit off kilter. Legally and ethically, the doctors (nurses, specialists, whoever!) need to tell you what this condition means and what could potentially happen to you. This leads to a lot of scary scenarios being thrown at you, all of which were a million miles from your brain just 20 minutes ago before you stepped into the surgery.
I had been to school with a couple of people with diabetes and my great grandmother also had Type 1, but I had little to no idea about what the condition actually meant. I had a lot of research to do.
So what next? Well in my case, I needed to just sit and digest everything that has happened in what had turned into a very unusual day. It must be said my family and friends were very supportive when I told them the news, but getting things straight in your own mind is something that happens at its own pace.
Here are a few things I did that helped me process my thoughts…
Get some perspective:
The one thought that I kept returning to was…it could be worse? Yes, I now have a condition (or “have become interesting” as my optician put it) but it’s a manageable one. I have every opportunity to keep things as they are, or even better myself in terms of diet, exercise etc.
There are so many resources and forums online for people exactly like you who are going through the same emotions and feelings. I personally felt quite isolated when I was diagnosed, a feeling that was helped immeasurably when reading the everyday ponderings of normal people with Type 1.
Find out about famous faces with diabetes:
I don’t know why this helped? I guess it was to reassure myself that there really were no boundaries that couldn’t be overcome. Interestingly, Nick Jonas (singer/one of Disney’s Jonas Brothers) is Type 1, as is Dominic Littlewood (TV presenter). What a double act that would be.
The BBC also created a great video of rugby player Chris Pennell which I urge you to watch.
Most importantly of all however, was a determination to stay positive. After all, life’s too short to be miserable right? I’m taking things a day at a time, and apart from missing the occasional binge on sugary nonsense, everything seems to be working out well.
Anyway, that’s the story so far. Hopefully this is of some help to newly diagnosed people feeling a bit down, embrace it and it gets easier. Trust me.
Oh, and may the fourth be with you.
Alex Jones @alex_jonze
More information on celebrities and diabetes
Find out who Diabetes UK’s celebrity supporters are – including those who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.