Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Diabetes Blog Week Day 3: Memories

Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere.... your or your loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share. (Thanks to Jasmine of Silver-Lined for this topic suggestion.)

This was actually a far harder post than I thought it would be to write. When I first started to think about writing this post, all the memories that immediately sprang to mind were all negative.   The strongest memories I have related to diabetes are things like dreading going to clinic when I was a child, because I always expected to get yelled at.  The times I've passed out and woken up to paramedics. The time I ended up in hospital with DKA because of a GP that didn't know the difference between type 1 and type 2.

But I didn't want to write about any of those things, because living with diabetes is crap enough without constantly having a negative mental association with it. So I had a think, and I've come up with a more positive set of memories I wanted to write about, mainly because for me it represents a huge milestone in my attitude toward my diabetes care

When I moved down to Cambridge six and a half years ago, I wasn't in a particular great place in terms of my diabetes. I was on two injections of Mixtard a day, my HbA1c was in double figures, and I was going through a fairly extended burnout. Things changed a little bit when I started attending Addenbrooke's - I was put on MDI and taught the basics of ratios, so I was on a much better regime but I was still very much in burnout.  I had an annual review, where my endo looked at me and "you're smarter than this, you can get better results." It was the first time in about ten years that anyone had said that to me about my diabetes, and actually offered to help me do it.  Things didn't immediately get better, but it planted a seed, and a few weeks later I was floating about on the interwebs (as you do), when I googled something (can't even remember what it was now), and I ended up on the diabetesdaily forum.

It was eye-opening.

Here were a whole bunch of people, all with diabetes, with similar diabetes issues and regimes and thoughts to me, and they were talking about it and discussing ways to help. Up to this point, I knew one other person with diabetes, a fellow type 1 who was also and seemed to get on great with it.  I'd never met anyone - online or off - who seemed to be going through the same issues as I was.  I can't even explain it, it was like someone lit a fire in my brain.  I started reading everything I could, and that whole feeling of belonging, of having finally found people who understood what it was like to live with diabetes, never went away (it never has, even to this day). I introduced myself, I asked for advice, and the support I received was amazing. I started testing again, and instead of getting angry at the high numbers and giving up, I started trying to figure out why I was getting those numbers, and making changes. I picked up some books, I set about educating myself in all the new things about diabetes management that had passed me by. I started seeing changes, and feeling better, and that just motivated me to work harder.

The HbA1c I had at the annual review was 9.4.  Four months later, with the new knowledge and work I'd put in it was 7.5. Six months after that it was 6.9. I've done DAFNE, I'm now on a pump, and my HbA1c has been 7 or less for the past three and a half years, and I'm really proud of that. I never thought that was even possible when I was still in Glasgow.  And it's all because of stumbling onto that site, and finding the DOC.  A very important and positive memory in my diabetes history. :)

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