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April 30, 2019

My ups and downs with type 1 diabetes.

I was diagnosed back in 1966 when just 18 months old, I used to hide the fact I was living with type 1 diabetes and only told an employer once I had the job … how things have changed and now, with a broadened understanding, this is no longer the case.

I believe physical exercise has made a huge difference to my life and to the control of my type 1 diabetes. Karate is a TRULY physical sport and I used to train three or four times a week from 7.20pm through to 10.00pm. I won numerous competitions and always came away exhausted, so when people say that living with diabetes should prevent someone from doing manual work or physical exercise, I would beg to differ.

I closely monitor my blood levels before I eat and every time I get into the car to drive. This is also something that some people may not realise, I have to go through a medical check-up every three years to make sure I’m fit to drive. The DVLA will not issue a continuation of my licence if I am unfit.

My insulin regime consists of one injection taken at the same time every day as a base to work from. Throughout the day I then inject the required amount of fast acting insulin based on a calculation of what my sugar levels are, what the carbohydrate content of the food I’m about to eat is, and/or the exercise I’m planning to do. I take all these factors into consideration, do the maths and hopefully not get it wrong as my old school nurses once did! So many things to consider and that’s without even taking on-board how hot sunny days or freezing winter ones can also have an effect on sugar levels.

Having had this condition all my life, by now, I should really have a strict regime of what to do and when to do it without failing … this would be okay if I stuck to the really old way of eating roughly the same food, taking the same dosage and doing (or not) the same exercise but I’m not prepared to have my life ruled in such a manner. When out and about or engrossed in a project or work, I can get caught up in the moment as can anyone else and this is where I find technology helps immensely.

At 4pm every day, my phone reminds me to test my blood. Why then? I happen to know that my blood levels enjoy creeping up sometime between lunch and dinner so this is a good time for me just to check it, if it’s a little lower than I would like I can deal with it, if it’s higher, I can easily calculate how much insulin I need to take to ensure by dinner time, my levels will be back in line.

The other alarm is set for 7pm, again, if out and about or just distracted with what life throws me, this alarm is a reminder to take my long term (the base one) insulin, once again, technology helps me to gain further control.

Having been diagnosed with diabetes at such an early age, it has meant that I missed out on some things such as eating sweet foods when I felt like it. I did once eat the best part of two candy flosses at a fair and then spent three days in hospital, oops!

Nowadays I tell people that a little of something naughty is actually good for you and the way diabetes is managed, generally means we can have those occasional treats  that we savour and enjoy it far more than if eaten regularly.

Diabetes … Yeah, my life has had its ups and downs as a result of having this condition but with reasonably good management, a continued education on how to handle it (after all, our metabolism changes constantly so there’s another factor to consider) and a real urge to grab a hold onto life to enjoy it to its full, it hasn’t been a detriment to the way I live but rather an attribute to having a better and healthier lifestyle.

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