I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 14 in 1979. My father had type 1 diabetes and all I knew was he didn’t eat much sugar. This meant I grew up in a household where there wasn’t much sugar around, no one in my family had sugar in their drinks, only when neighbours or aunts came for a visit did it appear.
My father passed away a few months before my diagnosis. I had a Saturday job working in an electrical retail store and walked to work, drinking litres of Coke or lemonade and would then spend a lot of time on the toilet. One day I collapsed at work after feeling faint. The store manager gave me more Coke to drink and I suddenly felt better. The GP told me to exercise more and eat regularly. Two weeks later I collapsed again – this time the Coke made me nauseous.
I saw a different GP who told me about diabetes and did a test. I was then rushed to an emergency department where they asked me to inject an orange and gave me a small bottle and asked me to draw some of the contents and remove the bubbles. It took a little while to master but I got the hang of it. Then he told me to put it in my leg – that was my first insulin injection.
Don’t allow diabetes to rule everything about you – there is no stopping you! I have worked and travelled all over the world and I have a great partner who understands my condition – we have done and seen some amazing things and diabetes was there the entire time. I have been on an insulin pump for seven years and that’s the best thing that has happened when it comes to my diabetes – it’s given me some freedom from routine.
I am keen to promote and help change the general public’s awareness of what diabetes is and most importantly, what it means for someone living with the condition and those around them including their family, friends and work colleagues.