Blame Thailand for diabetes – Alex Wellington

Although, I’m not quite 18 years old and have literally only been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes for less than a year, I am told to remain optimistic – what’s a lifelong condition anyway? As everyone keeps telling me, “It could be worse?”

Of course, it’s easier for ‘them’ to say, after all, they’re not diabetic. Ever since last August, I’ve been moulded into a ‘new person’ and asked to perform ‘new tricks’ upon the hour like a dolphin at Sea World – both of us, to remain ‘alive’ but never ‘live’ as we once did.

There was a time, when life was painless and simple. It would never surprise me, how thoughtless a meal or jog could be, when the only thing on your mind was having a good time, rather than the impact it had on your sugars.

When going to the cinema, I only worried whether the kiosk attendant could tell I was sneaking in an entire pack of ‘pick-a-mix’ – as opposed to an insulin pen and a handful of needles. Or having to remember to bring a bottle of water after hiking up a mountain, not a packet of jelly babies or a tube of something called ‘glyco-gel’!

I suppose it becomes a part of your normal everyday life and to even question it, let alone, ask someone for support results in a vacant look wondering, “What on earth are you on about?” As though, they have forgotten I even have diabetes – if only I could forget so quickly! But, no matter how much my life has changed, life goes on as usual.

Because I manage my diabetes independently, there has been no real need for any intervention from any of my family, so could I blame them for carrying on with their lives (so quickly) – after all, I would be no better than the disease itself if I required all their time and offered nothing in return. At the end of the day, if I know my family, I know they’re always there for me – it’s just a little hard as they too are having trouble adjusting their approach slightly, hoping not to offend me – after all, I’m still Alex.

And, whilst I was trying to catch up to my family, they were all too busy trying to work out why and where I had ‘caught’ diabetes. My grandmother took the reins, having claimed she was a ‘diabetes expert’ after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes almost five years ago – come to think about it, she tossed her glucose monitor into the bin – is she diabetic? Still, she advises me about a strict diet, which is always followed by the sound of screeching nails on a chalkboard, “Can you eat that?” Caution: Never ask a Type 1 diabetic if they ‘can eat that’ – or course we can, we do have teeth!

However, this does not compare to what my grandfather said only days after my discharge from hospital – “perhaps it’s your mother’s fault for taking you to Thailand?” [I’ll just give you some time to pause and digest what you just read]. Apparently, a two-week holiday in Thailand two years ago caused me to have diabetes! What did he think – ‘it was in the water’?

It may sound ridiculous now, but, remember, this was just days after my discharge, potentially one of the most fragile moments in my life – so having to be told, it’s because of Thailand – really was the icing on the cake. So, just to clarify, my grandfather believes Thailand is to blame for my diabetes. But don’t feel sorry for me, if anyone deserves sympathy, it should be the Thai people.

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