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Thursday, 2 October 2014

What I Wish I Knew

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a lady who had been told she had gestational diabetes. Insulin had been mentioned to her and she was quite upset over the whole thing. I did my best to try to tell her everything would be alright, and that it would all be worth it when she had her bub. I ran into her today and she thanked me for talking to her, but mostly for telling her it would be ok. Thinking about it afterwards brought back memories of when I was told that I had Type 1 Diabetes. Any diagnosis of diabetes is scary, whether temporary, such as GDM, or a Type 1, 2 or other diagnosis.

 I have vivid memories of the months where nothing was normal anymore and nothing that was happening to my body made sense. There are definitely things I wish I knew, or things I wished people had told me. Certainly things that I wish people hadn't told me.

The biggest thing, was that I wish someone had told me that it would be ok. Your life becomes a blur of doctors appointments in that 1st instance and they're all so busy teaching you how to live your new life with an impaired pancreas that nobody thinks to tell you that YOU ARE GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS. One day you will wake up and having diabetes is going to be something that is ok for you. Everyone I meet now with newly diagnosed diabetes, this is what I tell them, that it will be ok one day to have diabetes. Its one simple reassurance that nobody really understands how effective it can be. Luckily, about 2 months after diagnosis, I walked into an ice-cream store and asked if they had the carb count available. The guy serving me asked "Newly diagnosed Diabetic? It gets easier". They should tell you this straight away, but they should also add "In time" and tell you that everyone's 'time' is different. Thankyou, random diabetic.

In addition, here's some other stuff I wish I had known earlier:

  • Insulin pumps. They exist. This is ALSO something random ice-cream serving diabetic guy told me about. After establishing my newly-diagnosed status, he pointed to his hip and told me "Get one of these. Best thing I ever did for my diabetes". He was right, and less than a month later, I had one too.

  • There's this amazing pocket sized book called 'Alan Borusheks Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate counter'. It has the carbs to almost everything you can think of. There's a wesbite too that you can use on your phone. 
  • Life is never going to be the same again. This is not a bad thing, of course your life will change. What is normal just happens to change too. I was told that so long as I took my insulin and checked my BGLs I would live a normal life. The"I must not tell lies" mantra of Dolores Umbridge comes to mind when I think of being told that I would live a normal life. Once I realised my life was different, I was a much happier person.

  • People are going to say silly things to you. I think they should hand out guidebooks on how to calmly deal with silly questions and situations when they diagnose you. People kind of suck in the understanding department if they haven't experienced it themselves.

  • Doctors and other medical personnel should stop pretending that needles aren't scary. Yes, I got used to them, but having people tell me that it was 'nothing' and I had to just get over it made me feel like a failure when I wasn't coping with it too well. Whereas if I had been offered support and shown different ways to do them I would have coped much better and might not have moved onto insulin pump therapy as quickly as I did. (I later discovered I could do it easily through clothing which somehow made it easier for me to handle). Just to reiterate, It's ok to still be uncomfortable with needles when you're diabetic, but you do need to recognise that whilst being uncomfortable at times, they kind of give you life, which is kind of awesome. Take the time to learn how to make them more comfortable in your life.

  • Don't look up 'diabetes' in google image search. You can never unsee it. If you must look up something diabetes related, be really specific: glucose meter or insulin pump.
  • Be proud of yourself and don't feel like you need to hide your diabetes away. Unfortunately some comments were made when I was newly diagnosed  that had me in the bathroom to do a shot whenever I was out of the house. Once I realised that I had nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide life was a whole lot easier, and not only because I was no longer trying to find a bathroom to inject in if I wanted to eat out.
  • I wish someone had thrust the reality check booklet at me and refused to let me leave their office without it. Find an internet forum, stalk other diabetics when you see them testing or join your local diabetes body. Just find support. No-one else knows what its like nursing a 3am hypo and eating ALL the food. 
  • You WILL get to be old one day! Isn't technology brilliant? Yep, diabetes will not stop you being one of those elderly people in the stock images; where they're standing smiling next to their significant other, all fit and healthy and happily enjoying their retirement. These people:

And finally....
  • Your feet aren't going to fall off spontaneously in the middle of the night. find a good team who you can trust to be there through your good and bad diabetes days and actually listen to them and take care of you health, and the whole feet falling off deal can be avoided. 

Readers: What do you wish you knew?

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