Friday, 11 May 2012

Diabetes blog week 2011: Awesome things

Awesome things - Friday 5/13: In February the #dsma blog carnival challenged us to write about the most awesome thing we’d done DESPITE diabetes. Today let’s put a twist on that topic and focus on the good things diabetes has brought us. What awesome thing have you (or your child) done BECAUSE of diabetes? After all, like my blog header says, life with diabetes isn’t all bad!

Well, this post would have been rather timely! On the 14th May 2011 I graduated from my PhD and officially became Dr Angie. It's taken a long time, and there have been more than a few bumps along the way, but on that day I finally reached the point I'd been aiming at for so many years.

The reason this post is particularly appropriate is that diabetes is the thing which set me off on this path. I've been diabetic since I was 4 years old. I have no memory of a life without diabetes; to me, this is "normal". I plodded along for several years, not really thinking much about the whys or the hows or the wherefores, just living life with diabetes. However, when I was about twelve, I started to wonder more about why I was diabetic - not in a 'why me??' way, but wondering what was it that was wrong with my body that made me diabetic.

I picked up a couple of books from the library (no easy access to the internet back then!), and started reading about the biology of diabetes. I found it fascinating. I loved learning about all the things a pancreas was supposed to do, and why mine didn't, and about my immune system committing treason, and on and on. It sparked an interest in science, and in investigating the world around me that has only grown since then.

I always said that I'd love to be a research scientist, and especially one involved in diabetes research. However, when I was at school I had no idea how the hell you actually got into that kind of career, and it wasn't really the kind of thing that people at my school aspired to. This was when my amazing biology teacher helped. She explained the different ways of doing it, and suggested school qualifications and later uni courses that would I would need. I took all the science classes I could in school, and when it came to deciding what we wanted to do after school, continuing in science was completely natural.

I did my undergrad at Glasgow Uni in Medical Biochemistry, which involved a year's work placement in Bedford carrying out human studies and an honour's project looking at insulin resistance in young sheep (yes, really...). I then decided to carry on studying, and was offered a PhD place at Cambridge, and jumped at the chance.

And four years later, here I am. I'm now officially a doctor, I'm working as a research scientist, and while I might not be working directly in a diabetes research lab, I'm in a lab that is studying related things, and who knows when I might end up in the future. Diabetes was the thing that kickstarted that love of science that led me here. I'm made so many wonderful friends through this, both through uni and in the places where I've lived while studying. I've had so many wonderful experiences, and I'm proud of what I've achieved.

For once, thank you diabetes!

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