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.