Ahh, the wonderful topic of diabetes, I could go on forever.
However the aim of this article is to depict what it is like to live the life of a young diabetic (or at least what I have experienced).
First of all, if you enjoy hot weather, you are most likely not diabetic.
The recent heat waves that have hit the UK have seen to it that my blood sugar levels never come above 4.0. This may not sound alarming to you, but when you consider that they are supposed to stay between 7 and 10* it paints a clearer picture of the inconvenience of that big glowing pain in the neck that insists on my being miserable.
On the subject of having low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) it’s an extremely uncomfortable experience that I avoid whenever I can. Some of the tamer symptoms are:
- An irregular heart rhythm
- Pale skin
- Tingling sensation around the mouth
However if these symptoms are ignored or untreated for any reason some of the more severe ones may occur, such as:
- Confusion, abnormal behaviour or both, such as the inability to complete routine tasks
- Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
- Slurred speech
I have experienced all of these symptoms, and honestly in my personal opinion the worst of them is the confusion, especially when you have just woken up.
Imagine, if you will, that you have just woken up in your own bed, room and house yet you have no idea where you are and the lack of energy makes it impossible to think straight. It’s the most panic inducing thing I have experienced and it happens at least 5 times a month, and more in summer.
The other end of the spectrum, whilst more comfortable and less noticeable at first, is twice as dangerous and can have some very undesirable effects. Some of which are:
And if untreated:
- Vaginal and skin infections
- Slow-healing cuts and sores
- Worse vision
- Nerve damage causing painful cold or insensitive feet
- Stomach and intestinal problems such as chronic constipation or diarrhoea
- Damage to your eyes, blood vessels, or kidneys (taken from webmd.com)
I can gladly say that my kidneys and nerves are still intact, though I have experienced seizures and vision problems due to hyperglycemia.
When I experience symptoms of either of the aforementioned conditions I have to give myself a dose of insulin (hyperglycemia) or dextrose (hypoglycemia) which are a form of glucose tablet. Both of these can take up to 20 minutes to take affect and if I’m experiencing ketones, a toxin which builds up in blood with a high level of sugar, I have to give myself an injection rather than the usual Omni-pod bolas.
School is another hassle when it comes to diabetes because I have to leave lessons to check my blood sugar levels and if they are off I have to sit in the ‘medical room’ and wait for them to level out, which can take ages.
I have to go to the office every lunch time to give myself insulin so that I can eat and I never quite know what carb-count to administer as I’m never sure what I, a Coeliac, will be able to eat. But I’ll write more on that in a later article.
I was diagnosed when I was 3 and I remember vividly the trip to the hospital, feeling like my face was made of static and my limbs of lead, the pain in my stomach and the sensory overload as every smell made me want to gag. I remember being wheeled down the corridors of Bedford hospital and nurses talking to me. I also remember afterwards, when I was recovering, when my family was in my room and there was a drip in my right hand.
I was diagnosed at the last moment and almost died as a result, but I lives so that’s good, and the doctors today, to my knowledge, are a lot better with picking up on the symptoms.
It’s a hard illness to live with but I manage and so do many others, and I’m glad I have so many people supporting me through it.
* Note from mum: interesting to find that Bethany thinks her BG’s should be between 7-10mmol, this was certainly true when she was a small child and on daily injections but now it should ideally be between 4-6mmol, I have corrected Beth in her understanding and am so proud of her positive attitude and her wonderful talent for writing. For a diagnosis story from my point of view check out my post Type 1 Diabetes and us: diagnosis story