Spare a thought this Christmas – by Helen May

Fourteen years ago, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted a slightly different Christmas. The build up to December had felt long and I was feeling run down. So we spent Christmas Day at home, just the two of us doing what we wanted without the pressure to follow conflicting family rituals.

For example, my family opened their presents in the morning and his opened them after dinner. So we opened them throughout the day.

We uncorked a bottle of champagne for breakfast and it lasted throughout the day: it was there when we got back from our lunch-time walk and there was still some left to have with mince pies at the end of the day.

Not feeling quite right

The day was fun but something wasn’t quite right. I put this down to my ongoing “feeling run down” feeling.

The next day, we drove two hours to visit his sister-in-law and nieces for the family Christmas. Unusually, I need to go to the toilet en route and when I arrived and an hour later and through the night. Getting up in the middle of the night is a pain because it affects your sleep patterns. But getting up in a strange house navigating cat litter trays and children’s toys, whilst remembering which door was the toilet and trying not to wake anyone else by the landing light added a few more challenges.

It was still a good festive holiday. But soon after New Year, I, finally decided I needed to see a doctor about my weeing habit. To cut a long story short, that led to my diagnosis with diabetes.

Diabetes can happen at any time

Diabetes is with us every hour for every day for every month and every year. As I realised fourteen years ago, it doesn’t hold back at Christmas or birthdays or holidays – it can pop up any day it wants. It doesn’t care what you are doing at the time and think “I’ll let her enjoy her celebrations before taking the lime light.”

I am now familiar with diabetes: I have a good idea how much insulin to take for Christmas dinner with all the trimmings ; I remember to reduce my basal after Christmas parties and have mastered techniques for taking insulin when wandering around the Christmas markets.

Thinking about those diagnosed with diabetes

But diabetes will be new for many people this Christmas. As well as toys and presents, Santa may be bringing diabetes to some households and that has nothing to do with whether you have been naughty or not. Some people will struggle to keep their blood glucose (BG) under control. And some people will be trying to find their BG meter under piles of wrapping paper. Whilst others will be “just popping out” half way through the queen’s speech but not understand why.

So, this year, I will be remembering my first interaction with diabetes and sparing a thought for those who are trying to make sense of weird symptoms, or struggling with their new diagnosis which will be with them every hour of every day of every month of every year.

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