I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 11 years old.
This was 25 years ago but the thing I remember the most is the extreme thirst that I had in the month leading up to my diagnosis. I remember being at school and asking to go out to get a drink from the water fountain (we weren’t allowed water bottles in the classroom then). It was January and very cold. I remember standing by the fountain to get as much water in as I could but still not feeling like I had drunk anything. I then would go back to class only to need to go to the toilet 5 minutes later. After I had been to the toilet I would stop by the water fountain to try to quench my thirst. The cycle would then start again. I was usually someone who would only ever go to the toilet at the designated break time so for me this caused much anxiety. I also remember staying after school to do a netball club and I just remember feeling so tired and had to sit to rest for most of it.
As well as this at night time I would constantly be up drinking from the bathroom tap. I also remember going to the sports centre after school to watch my sister’s swimming lesson and feeling like I needed something cold and refreshing and asking for a can of coke. Little did I know at the time that this was making my sugar levels dangerously high. I had lost so much weight in a short space of time and I remember looking at my fingers and seeing how tiny they had become!
My mum booked me in to see my GP and within seconds of walking in he told me I had type 1 diabetes. I remember he asked me to get a urine sample. I told him I had been just before I came into the room and he told me that I wouldn’t have any problem going again! He was right! My sugar levels were dangerously high and I had high levels of ketones in my urine.
I was sent to hospital where I spent a week getting used to insulin injections and my new way of life. I remember the nurse showing me a hypodermic needle and asking me to practice injecting it into an orange. I remember thinking that the needle was huge and my legs were so tiny. My toes had also started to become infected. I suffer from chilblains and they had started to become very sore and pussy. The doctor was very concerned about this and I remember the look of concern on his face. Luckily they were treated but I know now why he was so concerned! After coming home from hospital I quickly noticed my fingers return to their usual size. Luckily there was another girl at my school with Type 1 diabetes so it helped having someone to talk to about it.
We weren’t told about carb counting or prebolusing. The only thing I was told was the amount to inject each day and that I had to test my blood sugar throughout the day. It was hard and it was a very steep learning curve for myself and my family. I am very lucky that my family and friends look out for me and take an interest in my diabetes. It helps so much when people are aware of what you go through each day.