Twenty years ago, in May 1997 I was diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes. I went into hospital for a few nights, I was taught how to inject myself, test my blood and the maths involved in working out how much insulin to inject. I was taught what I could and couldn’t eat. I started on four injections a day, later it went up to five. I tested my blood glucose four times a day. I learned that if I significantly over injected I could end up unconscious, in desperate need of sugar. If I didn’t inject enough, over time, the sugar in my body would wreak havoc. My extremities would suffer first. Loss of eyesight and limb amputations are still not uncommon for those with diabetes.
Since then there have been serious improvements in the technology available to some of those with type 1. Research on how to treat type 1 has developed and evolved. This means that within reason I can eat what I want and I no longer inject myself. Since 2011, I have worn an insulin pump which manages the injections for me. I no longer prick my finger to test my blood glucose, I scan a disposable implant in my arm. I’m one of the lucky ones. Many still long for the freedom a pump brings both in the UK and the ‘developing’ world.
If I had been diagnosed 100 years ago I would have died. Medical research in the early 1920s led to the discovery of insulin and the first treatment for those with type 1. Medical research has led to insulin pumps, flash glucose scanners and it will lead us to the cure for this condition. There is some seriously exciting research going on right now, which will again transform the lives of those with this condition.
Today, I have adjusted my pump 8 times, I have scanned my implant 13 times. Over the last ten days I have woken on 5 different nights because of my blood glucose needs attention. I weigh nearly everything before I eat it. My type 1 is never far away, it’s something I live with constantly. I quietly get on with it, that’s what adults with type 1 do. But I can’t tell you how life changing it would be if I didn’t have this condition. If I wasn’t thinking every hour or so, what’s my blood doing, do I need to eat something, should I make a mini pump injection?
In a few weeks my family and I will attend the JDRF One Walk Central Scotland. We will be joined by hundreds of other families affected by type 1 diabetes. We will see children younger than Joseph, our 3 year old, bravely coping with this condition. I will watch the stress on parents’ faces as they try to give their child the most normal childhood their can while living with type 1. Parents give up work because they can’t balance a job and being continually called into school because of their child’s type 1 diabetes. These parents are also tired, not because they child doesn’t sleep through the night, but because they check their child’s blood glucose every few hours just to make sure they are alive in the morning. This is a condition that is quiet yet draining and constant.
Medical research which JDRF funds is what will change these lives and mine. There are 400,000 people in the UK alone who live with this condition. Mine is just one story. I’m fundraising to help continue to fund this desperately important research. Any money you can spare would be so appreciated, it will bring the longed for cure one step nearer. Thank you so much!