This is an extended version of my blog which I wrote for JDRF and can be found on their website –
Autopilot – Diabetes – thats what you get when you eat too much sugar? Right? At 4.6 stone, weight was definitely not my problem and at 12 years old I was oblivious to what diabetes actually was. ‘At least im not dead’ I told my mum as my parents cried over the news of my diagnosis. It didn’t really scare me from what I can remember and the same day I was injecting myself and checking my sugar levels. Taking Type 1 in my stride and 6 months after my diagnosis with a HBA1C of 6.2% I was offered an insulin pump!
Low – Trying to adjust to teenage life and do all the carefree things your friends do whilst coming to terms with diabetes. When my honeymoon period stopped, my pancreas finally stopped producing insulin and puberty started I was on a diabetes rollercoaster! Constant fastings to try and adjust background insulin levels and adjustments of insulin levels at certain times of the month… lets not go into any more detail there…
High – One day I decided I I’d like to learn more about Type 1 and after searching the internet I found JDRF and I signed up to be a youth Ambassador. Thats where my passion accelerated! I attended my first Youth Ambassador day where I met one of my friends Maya, unexpectedly meeting again 4 years later as we shared a room on a Type 1 Diabetes camp! Ive also had many fantastic opportunities from this like holding fundraisers, doing speeches to over 500 peers at my school and meeting new friends – which is so important to have as a teen with a invisible ‘disease’ (i don’t like calling it that!) as it can feel
isolating at times!
Low – GCSE the bane of every teenagers life! Even more so with Type 1! Ive discovered (even though everyone deals with stress differently) that stress and diabetes do not mix well! A bit like a spoonful of sugar does not help our medicine go down! During GCSE’s i was put in a separate room due to the anxiety the exams and my diabetes were presenting me with. This was so helpful as it meant i would be able to test and correct my sugars when i needed without disrupting anyone, the room was warm (as the cold made my blood sugars drop) and it kept me calmer. This meant months of fluctuating blood sugar levels. Sometimes my bloods would be high because of adrenaline so i would increase my insulin amount, other times my blood sugars would go low with no extra insulin added. UNPREDICTABLE is an understatement.
High – Last year i was given the amazing opportunity to lobby in Parliament with JDRF on the #countmein campaign where i got to speak to many politicians including Andrew Gwynne and I explained to Ed Miliband during a meeting how Type 1 Diabetes is an important issue. Mr Miliband was extremely nice and being able to speak about something so important to me helped me to gain so much confidence and reminds me that I own my diabetes. It was also great to meet some of the faces behind the social media profiles – social media is so important to any teen! Without social media I wouldn’t have been able to meet one of my best friends Ellie and I wouldn’t have been able to meet so many inspiring other Type 1’s who attended Parliament such as the ‘Grumpy Pumper’ and so many more! If you ever feel alone there is always someone online to help such as on the #gbdoc chat on twitter and many Facebook pages.
Low – A Levels – The exam conundrum started again and again pressure was a big factor. Eventually after lots of persuading (half a year to be precise!) from my children diabetes team I was sent to see a lady called Sarah to help me deal with the ‘stress’. If anyone else is struggling with this it is normal, there is nothing to be ashamed of and its ok to ask for help. I learn a lot about myself in the few months I saw her for and only now i realise that the ‘stress’ wasn’t only affecting my diabetes but me as well. Being a perfectionist with Type 1 Diabetes is not easy! haha
High – This may sound like a strange one but as people my age experiment with drugs and get really drunk I feel as though I don’t need to do this. Why would I want to damage my body even more? Yes I have a few drinks and enjoy a party as much as the next person but I can say ‘Not right now my blood sugars are too low/high’ if i don’t want too and people won’t question you any more. *fist pump* I also met so many friends on a diabetes camp where we weren’t the odd one out because we all had type 1. Two of them, Alyssa and Grant are my best friends and these are the people, along with my mum, dad and sister of course, who make teenage life with Type 1 so much easier, because they understand you and what you are going through.
High and Low – Leaving my Childrens Diabetes Team this month really struck a chord with me. My team have been so fabulous these past six years providing me with the tools to manage my Type 1, helping me fight for my Omnipod which is the best thing about my diabetes, and always being there to encourage me. Many times I’ve cried in my clinic appointment about various things (stress, diabetes, and ‘stress’) and I’ve always come out of clinic feeling so much more positive after a hug, a cry and a deep chat ahaha. Going through such an intense journey (especially at the beginning of my diagnosis) with the same team makes them feel like part of my family and leaving them actually brakes my heart. Its been a ‘high’ knowing my team and its been amazing to have them in part of my journey because they have all provided me with the tools for Adult clinic and life and I have such fond memories of my Childhood clinics. However its a ‘low’ leaving them behind and having to build up a relationship with the new team and stepping into the unknown. Scary stuff!
Today– Despite my diabetes being a roller coaster during my exams Im going to University! Ive just got back from travelling around Europe for a month with my friends and diabetes did not stop me at all. You can do anything anyone else can do just with Type 1! Im looking forward to what this year will bring! If theres one thing you should do with your diabetes is inspire people. It takes a lot of courage and determination to look after yourself especially when we are young! Ive decided to inspire people through my youtube channel and Blog because you have to make the best out of a bad situation. Own your diabetes, its not easy and there will always be bumps in the road. Think about what you’ve achieved, even if its just simple, and how far you’ve come. Its hard being a teenager and its harder being a teenager with Type 1 Diabetes. So don’t forget how brilliant you are! I live my live through quotes and if you are going through a ‘low’ through your highs and lows with type 1 just remember this quote. ‘Its ok to be a glowstick, sometimes we have to break before we shine’.
Lots of love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx