For World Diabetes Day I’d like to welcome my sister to the blog. This incredibly brave lady was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was only 13 (I was 9 at the time), and the way she has managed this life-long illness is truly inspiring. I invited Dawn to write something about her experience and how it has affected her life, and I hope you’ll make time to read it and say hello in the comments.
Also on World Diabetes Day, my friend Debbie Young is launching her ebook – Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes – a personal account of her young daughter’s life as a diabetic and its impact on the whole family. All the proceeds of this book will go to the JDRF (Junior Diabetes Research Foundation).
And now, over to my lovely sis!
It started with a grapefruit….
“Well okay, not a grapefruit straight away, there was incessant drinking of water, the running to the loo all the time, losing weight, lots of blood tests, being admitted into hospital in the very scary and very smelly adult ward (too old at 13 to go into the Children’s ward!), being left overnight without my mum and dad (and sister of course). And then came the statement: ‘Here’s a grapefruit Dawn and here’s an injection, stab the grapefruit and practice your injections before you stab your leg, you are now a Diabetic.’
Excuse me, a what?
To a 13 year old, to be given a glass syringe with a 2.5 inch needle and told to stab the grapefruit as practice, of course I went to town on it with absolutely no idea what was coming next. However, the first time that needle hit my skin (and muscle) it was so painful I cried and probably didn’t stop crying (inside) for many years after.
My teens were a blur, although I do remember eating loads of Cheshire cheese as that was only thing I thought I could eat that didn’t contain any carbohydrates! As time went by I went along to the Diabetic clinics like a good girl where they told me if I wasn’t careful and didn’t keep my sugar levels down I’d lose my legs, my feet (well I guess you would lose your feet if your legs went!), I’d have a monster baby at 16lbs when I decided to start a family – ouch …interestingly, I don’t have any children!
The best thing that ever happened to me was going on a DAFNE course (Dose Adjusting for Normal Eating), recommended to me by Diabetes UK. I talked to other diabetics, swapped stories, and really felt quite normal. The education they provided was invaluable.
So, many years later (34 in fact), here I am as well and as healthy as I can be. A nifty pen syringe with an 8mm needle, a super blood testing kit and don’t forget the fab support from my GP and of course my family.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough and only I can say ‘it could be worse’ no one else. So live your life and try not to let it get you down and remember, it could be worse :)”
Thanks so much, Dawn! I remember that grapefruit, and I remember our mum trying to bake diabetic cakes and find alternatives to ‘normal’ food in the days when there were few health food shops and no internet to make information easy to access. That my big sister has done so well with her health – and achieved so much with her life – is a testament to her determination and will power. She also has a wonderful husband, Bryan Hamilton, who many of you will know as the man behind ace-formatting company ekindled.co.uk
Thanks everyone for reading this special post for World Diabetes Day. Dawn will be around all day to answer any questions.
November 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm
Well done for coping with something so unfair at such a young age – you have true strength. And you are both certainly beautiful, blessed with good looks 😉 xx
November 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm
Thanks Emma 🙂 xxx
November 14, 2013 at 4:46 pm
Nice article. I do hope you are well.
November 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm
Thanks Matt – nice to see you on the blog xxx
November 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm
Thanks Matt – hope you are also keeping well x
November 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm
This made me cry. I too remember the grapefruit. When we arrived at the hospital and there was Dawn practising how to inject, we didn’t have the faintest idea of what it implied. It was upsetting, but even more so for my lovely young daughter Dawn when the realisation hit her. She knows how immensely proud I am of her, but I want to tell her again. I’m so proud of you Dawn. xxx
November 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm
Hi Mum! She’s incredibly brave – we all take it for granted sometimes, so I’m glad we’ve had chance to reflect on this today 😉
Love Jo xxx
November 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm
Yes, I agree. Dawn never moans about her diabetes or bring it up in conversation, and that’s why we probably forget. I’m so glad she was able to do this post, thanks Jo. xx
November 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm
Thanks mum, I’ve sent you a text 🙂 x x x x
November 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm
Hello, I’m really touched by the lovely comments, thank you so much. When Jo asked me to write something I didn’t have a clue where to start but suddenly that famous grapefruit popped into my head – did I mention I hate grapefruits 🙂 🙂 x x x x
November 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm
Thank you, Dawn for sharing your story with us. I have two friends who have type I diabetes from childhood so I had some idea of the impact this illness can have on someone’s life. It’s a shock, as you have to make so many adjustments, and when you are very young it can feel very unfair when you go out and are simply unable to eat what your friends are having, especially at parties and they’re having cakes, pizzas, sweets, etc.
Well done you, Dawn, for being able to still carry on with your life and making the most of it! I presume you’re still able to have your sweet treats occasionally? My friend Viv, who has type I diabetes, tells me that if she has to have a treat, she will only have what is absolutely the best in order to justify a higher insulin dose, otherwise she will not bother with a treat at all.
November 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm
Really great story, you’re very brave. I would hate to have to stick a needle in myself! I have a friend who’s diabetic and he has to be careful to look after himself. But you and he are proof that it’s possible to live a normal life as a diabetic. 🙂
November 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm
Someone very close to me has been since he was 7 – so I know all about the long term effects, and then some. Good for you for writing this, and best of everything to your sister x
November 15, 2013 at 6:21 pm
Great story! My boyfriend also has type 1 and I think he was diagnosed about the same age. He went on a DAFNE course a while back too and said it was very helpful!
November 15, 2013 at 8:14 pm
Hi all, thank you so much for taking the time to post your lovely messages. I have tried very hard over the years to stay positive, thankfully things have developed (& will continue to do so), attitudes have improved and there is an abundance of information & support out there. I like the idea of only eating top quality treats though, I’m going to adopt that one 🙂 x x
November 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Hats off to Dawn and her positive attitude – it is really encouraging for young children when newly diagnosed to have strong role models like you who have got on with their lives and not let Type 1 Diabetes stand in their way. It is not an easy challenge to rise to, and until a cure is found, one that they’ll go on having to face every single day. I’m hoping that sales of “Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes” will help bring that great day a little closer, to the benefit of us all. xxx