By Elizabeth Wigley
A year can go by quickly, especially when you’ve got a lot going on. When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just over a year ago, I thought it would be at the forefront of my life, replacing my interests and any opportunities that came my way.
I was wrong. Now, diabetes is in the back of my mind, simply part of my everyday routine. I didn’t think this would happen so quickly, as I expected it would take me a few years to properly settle into this new and daunting lifestyle.
November isn’t just Diabetes Awareness Month. It’s a time to understand the complications, whether short or long-term, the highs and the lows (sorry, diabetes joke), the emotional journey and the importance of scientific research that goes into the illness.
There are twelve forms of diabetes, and in the UK, 1 in 16 people will be a sufferer. The cause of Type 1 is not yet known, and the hope is to one day find a way of preventing it, and possibly even a cure. Technology is already incredibly advanced and it is exciting to anticipate what is yet to be developed.
I’ll admit, my diabetic control hasn’t been the best, but it’s from this that I can learn to live as healthily as I can, and avoid long-term risks such as losing my sight or having limbs amputated.
Yes, I could lose body parts due to my illness. Diabetes can be simply a passing comment to a lot of people; too many times I have heard the phrase ‘this is so sugary – I’m going to get diabetes!’. No, you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, meaning, in very simple words, that one day the pancreas will just decide to stop working as it should, and will no longer produce insulin.
I mentioned in my previous article that I didn’t want my illness to control my life. One year on, I never imagined I would be doing so much. From being an editor of this publication to becoming the Vice-President of a society, to competing nationally in cheerleading competitions, I can certainly say that I have embraced my arguably restricting diagnosis. These things might not seem like a big deal to some people, but when you’re told that your life will never be the same again, you are determined to view it in a positive way.
I’m not scared anymore. A year ago, my diet was pretty good, and the control over my blood-glucose levels was steady, but a hesitation always remained inside me – an uncertainty that I could achieve personal goals, include myself in activities and have the ambition I had before my diagnosis. Now, I have a healthy diet, stable control and I am more strongminded than ever.
A few years ago, various misfortunes happened in my life which still have huge influences on me now. At the time I realised that life was far too short to dwell on the negative aspects, and that really, we should be grateful for what we have. I’m not trying to preach, I’m not saying that I’ve had the worst luck possible, but I am a strong believer in that experiences really do shape who you are as a person. After these things occurred, I decided I would properly live, not moan all the time and make excuses, and this was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Having recently turned 21, my life is as I would want it to be. Yeah, I’d love to not have diabetes but it’s something I can’t change, but I can control it. And so this is what I will end with: sometimes life throws things at you that at a previous time, you thought would break you. But having the confidence, the support, and the belief that you can conquer it will do just that, and you’ll be ready for anything.
To learn more about diabetes, head to the Diabetes UK website.
Image from the World Diabetes Day website is in the public domain.