Working twice as hard to have a day off from my diabetes – by Pauline McCulloch

My name is Pauline and I’m a fundraiser working in the Individual Giving Team here at Diabetes UK. I’ve been with Diabetes UK for just over three years now.

It’s been great as there are many other people working here living with type one so we’re able to chat about the condition. Also the members of staff who do not have diabetes are fantastic as their understanding of the condition is much higher than members of the public and they know where the hypo kits are!

I was diagnosed back in 2011 at the tender age of forty-one. I’d lost about a stone in weight and after feeling unwell over a weekend in November, I was completely exhausted when I went to work on the Monday. My colleagues urged me to visit the walk in clinic and the nurse there tested my blood glucose it was so high that the meter could not read it. I went to A&E and was promptly admitted and stayed in hospital for three days whilst they brought my blood sugar back in to range.

I quickly learned that type 1 diabetes is all about making decisions. Most of which you don’t want to make. I’m in the hospital, completely bewildered and it feels like the nurses are bombarding me with questions about treatment. Such as “how many injections do you want to do each day?” none obviously. And “what size needles do you want to use?” again the smallest, obviously. At the end of the three days, I just wanted to go home. And then I got home it dawned on me that I alone would have to manage this condition. When it was time for me to do my first injection, I cried. I was terrified of having to put a needle in to my own body, thankfully I soon got over that fear.

Having type one diabetes sucks. It’s monotonous, it’s relentless, there are no days off, even when you’re on holiday, you’re not on holiday from your diabetes. It’s like the world’s worst merry-go-round. You wake up, you test, you inject, you eat, you test, you test again, you inject you eat, you test, you inject, you eat, you go to bed, and then you get up and you test. Having type one diabetes is like Ground Hog Day, it’s not funny and Bill Murray isn’t in it.

To give you an understanding of how all-pervading having type one is on Monday 24th July 2017, I tested my blood sugar 11 times, the first was at 5:49am, I was high so I took a correction dose. I had two hypos that day, one was whilst I was training some fundraisers, the other was at 9:30pm, I felt hot, I tested, and was 3.0. So I had some Lucozade and a couple of Rich Tea biscuits. I wait 10 minutes, I’m still only 3.2 and now I’m fully sweating, I’m shaking and my heart is racing, I feel awful. I want to eat the whole packet of biscuits, I’m ravenous. But if I eat too much I’ll be sky high through the night. At 10:25pm, a full 45 minutes after the hypo started I’m only 4.1 and still feeling terrible. And this is just your average day.

I’m lucky to have been on a DAFNE type education course, where you learn to carb count and what to do when you’re having a sick day. It’s nice to meet other people with the condition, it reminds you, you’re not alone. I’m passionate about my job as a fundraiser, and doubly so as a person living with type one. Diabetes UK is the UK’s largest funder of diabetes research, and through research I hope we will have a cure one day, so we need to raise money to fund all of our wonderful and ground-breaking projects. I hope we have a cure sooner rather than later, so I can finally have a day off from my diabetes.

Pauline is pictured sharing her experience of living with Type 1 at a recent staff event.

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