November 14th marks World Diabetes Day, a day that is very close to my heart as I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1996. It is a day of raising global awareness of diabetes, and bringing both those who suffer with it and their families together. You may have seen certain landmarks lit up in blue on this day over the years and that is for one reason alone – world diabetes day.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, caused when the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, the body cannot process the glucose in the blood – when many type 1’s are diagnosed they are in something called diabetic ketoacidosis. This is when the body starts burning fat instead of glucose to get its energy, and it ends up turning the blood very acidic. Sadly this can be fatal.
I remember when I was diagnosed I had been unwell for a very long time. It all culminated with me projectile vomiting over my classmates while we were watching Oliver Twist, and being rushed to the hospital where I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Now here I am almost 25 years later – I’ve seen so many changes in diabetes technology and treatment. But the one thing that has stayed the same is…
And it was Frederick Banting who, along with his colleague, who discovered insulin and in 1922, they managed to sucessfully treat a number of patients with their new discovery. Because of them, people with type 1 diabetes no longer had to think of the condition as a death sentence. And I’m forever grateful to them.
So why is World Diabetes Day on February 14th? Because it’s Frederick Banting’s birthday!
Happy Birthday, Mr Banting. And thank you, from all of us insulin dependent diabetics!
Today’s post isn’t history related at all, but please indulge me for a moment.
As many of you know, I suffer from Type 1 Diabetes. I can clearly remember the day I was diagnosed – I was at school and we were watching Oliver Twist. All of a sudden I felt seriously unwell, worse than I’d been feeling for the past few weeks (honestly, I’d felt so poorly for weeks) and next thing I know, I’m projectile vomiting all over my classmates. My Nana came to pick me up from school and then she and my Mum took me to the Doctor – he took one look at me, curled up on the bench in the waiting room – and told Mum and Nana to get me to the hospital straight away. His own daughter had Type 1 so he knew what he was seeing. Whilst I was in A&E I remember asking for chicken soup – chicken soup fixes everything when you’re ill – and they put a drip in my arm, telling me it was chicken soup. In fact it was insulin – and that stopped me from losing my life. Because the reality is, if I hadn’t gone to hospital that day then the likelihood is that I wouldn’t be here right now. That was 21 years ago – like nearly every Type 1 diabetic I went through a phase of rebellion. I wanted to be normal, so I stopped testing my sugars and taking my insulin just so I could be like my friends. I know now that those years, mainly my years at uni, were full of stupidity. I wasn’t looking after myself because I wanted to be like everyone else. These days, though, I look after myself. I test my blood sugars and wear an insulin pump. My years of rebellion have led to some complications but I get on with things. Diabetes is a part of me. And I’ve learned over the past 21 years that although it’s with me 24/7, 365 days a year, it doesn’t control me. I control it.
So when I was browsing Facebook the other day, I saw a post by Diabetes UK about the 1 Million Step Challenge and I immediately signed up for it. Diabetes UK is a fantastic charity that gives help and support to those with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes – they also offer help and support to families. I remember back when they were the British Diabetic Association, we held a charity event for them which did really well (until the guy who did the music demanded a really high fee!). This charity gives the help and support that sufferers need – for them, there is no distinction about what type is the worst type of diabetes. Instead they help everyone. Instead they raise money to research treatments for this awful chronic illness.
Between 1st July and 30th September I will be walking ONE MILLION steps to raise money for Diabetes UK. This works out as over 10,000 steps every single day for three whole months – and it’s all for charity. If you can sponsor me for this epic challenge, I’d be so grateful. Please dig deep, every little helps.
If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so at my JustGiving page.