My mum recently mentioned to me that when I was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes she was devastated. In her eyes, I was doomed. I never realised this, nor did I share this feeling of doom. As a twelve year old, I was more concerned about the fact that I was missing the disco on that night. Her dread was obviously due to the fact that being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes is a drastic life change. However, the fact that it is an invisible illness didn't help. Any average Joe, like myself, can be living with it and you'd never know. With nothing to compare it to, you might imagine the worst for yourself or your child when they're first diagnosed. For this reason, I've composed eight reasons why it's simply not that bad and you needn't worry. Hopefully this may help anyone who is in a bit of a negative mindset about the whole thing!
1. With the Right Prep, There’s No Restrictions
I went to a sleepover two days after being admitted from hospital. Due to the auto-immune disease that I had been diagnosed with a week earlier, I was told I could not go to said sleepover. In fact, my mum was adamant that I missed this one. I don’t recall this myself, but apparently the 12 year old diva I was, turned around and said “you need to get over this because I’m not staying cooped up in this house forever.” No real need for the attitude but 12 year old me had a point, one that I’ve lived by ever since. With the right prep and information, you can do whatever you want to do. Festivals, Student Life, Sun Holidays, Alcohol, Exercise, Fast-Food- with knowledge, preparation, insulin and sweets, there’s no need for restrictions. Just look at Emily Vuoung, who recently ran the New York City Marathon. No excuses!
2. Heightened Responsibility and Awareness
This brings me onto the next point, which is that it teaches you responsibility. It's a type of responsibility that I know wouldn't have learned otherwise. It teaches you the importance of looking after yourself, and blatantly shows you the repercussions when you don’t. You can be irresponsible and dismiss your insulin shots and sugar levels. In turn, you’ll make life incredibly difficult for yourself. It’s actually more effort to not care. Taking care of your sugar levels gives you a better understanding of your own body. It instantly improves mood and energy levels. It makes you aware of how essential it is to stay active, get a good night’s sleep and follow a healthy diet. I genuinely believe that type one diabetes has driven me towards a healthier lifestyle and I am (dare I say it) quite grateful for that.
3. It’s Invisible
When I was growing up, my mum used to make me carry my violin into school every Wednesday morning for my fiddle classes afterwards. I can't even express how much this mortified me. I would literally feel sick at the thought of being seen with this large, bulky, un-cool instrument. Looking back, I can’t explain why it bothered me so much. The whole situation is a perfect example of the irrational self-consciousness that comes with growing up. Therefore, a pro of this ‘invisible illness’ is that, unlike my fiddle, it cannot be seen. Nobody will know until you tell them or whip out a needle and jab yourself in front of them (something I’m prone to do). One glance at my Instagram will show you that I couldn’t care less whether anyone knows that I am a diabetic, but at least that’s my choice. At a glance, nobody knows that you may have two packets of skittles, an insulin injection and a glucose monitor in your bag. Or perhaps a pump attached to your hip? This is reassuring in a way, it doesn't define you.
4. You Can Make it Pretty
Thanks to some amazing diabetic-focused brands , all the medicinal equipment no longer has to be so, well, grim. I’ll never forget the illuminous ‘DIABETIC’ wristband that the nurse told me I had to wear. I feel like it upset me more than the entire diagnosis. Butler and Grace have gorgeous little medical IDs so you don’t have to resort to these bands or dog-collar chains. You can find some other options in this post. SugarMedical is a brand that has fashionable, yet incredibly functional and high quality supply cases and accessories. I recently got one that has a little bin section attached for test strips, the convenience is on a whole other level. You can use my code Josiewilkins10 for 10% off! For more other gorgeous diabetes bits, you can have a look at this gift-guide post for some inspiration. It includes Myabetic, a very chic diabetic handbag brand, Prikkedief, who have pretty little covers for meters and pumps, sports gear and much more.
5. The Community
There is an incredible community of Type 1 Diabetics. Even just following ‘#TypeOneDiabetes’ on instagram will uncover hundreds of thousands of others sharing funny stories or relatable diabetes struggles online. The Beyond Type 1 app is great for discovering other peoples tips and ideas for thriving with Type One. You can join for free by clicking here. Also, there’s some really informative and inspiring podcasts out there. I’d recommend The JuiceBox Podcast, Diabetics Doing Things, and The Insuleoin Podcast! It can be a little lonely at times if you don't know any other diabetics, so this helpful community acts as a comforting reminder that you're doing just fine.
6. It will Cure Your Irrational Fear of Needles
I often get asked how I handle all of the injections. This is usually followed by the person telling me that if they were a diabetic they ‘actually wouldn’t be able to do it.’ This is annoying. If you’ve just been diagnosed, you’ll soon realise that the fear of injections is all in the head. Within a month it will become second nature to you. I don’t even think about injecting myself, so much so that I often can’t remember if I have. A tip for this is to pull out the bottom of the Novo Nordisk pen then press it down. At the bottom of the pen you will be shown the amount of units last taken, and the amount of hours since you last took it. (For example, in the picture below you can see that I took 8.5 units 11 hours ago.) If you’re afraid now, you’ll get over it, trust me.
Having said that, I do believe that injections will soon become a thing of the past. Although I myself am still on them, there’s so many other options today. Technology is coming along big time with CGMs (continuous glucose monitors) and pumps. There’s some great updates on the diabetes.co.uk website on the latest tech advancements, such as the artificial pancreas.
8. Nick Jonas Has It.
And isn't he flying it.
Please feel free to share any other reasons I may have missed. Hope you enjoyed!