Thursday, March 2, 2017

Being Type 1

I get a bit fed up with all the whingeing on social media. You know the ones, "no one sees
the invisible illness, the scars I bear, the depression and the feeling sick, the feeling tired after overnight hypos" etc etc.
Yes, that is part of it, but I always feel there is so much worse.

  • Watch someone die of cancer and tell me you'd rather have that, than Type 1.
  • Watch an interview with a refugee talking about what they have endured.
  • Watch a parent loose a child.

Just to put some context around this, I was diagnosed 35 years ago. I've gone from beef insulin to synthetic insulin, from needles to pens to pump, from 4 - 10 finger pricks a day to a CGMS.
I count myself lucky that I didn't have to live with sharpening my own needles and boiling them or with only urine tests to track the state of my bgls.

I count myself lucky that having this condition has strengthened me, demanding resilience, problem solving and self management skills. I count myself lucky that because of Type 1, I have been a little more disciplined in my life and not just drifted through it. I count myself lucky that having this condition means that for every day of the last 35 and a half years, I have understood very clearly that I was given a second chance at life, that I should have been dead at the age of 25 years.
I count myself lucky that through Type 1, I have met some amazing and exemplary individuals, who light the way and form a wonderful community.

I believe that T1 is the root cause of many of my personal achievements throughout my life.
I remember very clearly taking a decision about how I was going to live my life after my diagnosis and initial education about Type 1.
I decided very clearly that diabetes was not going to define my life. This became a prompt and a goad to never allow myself to make any excuses about participating, based on having Type 1.
So just to llustrate that you can live a 'normal' life with Type 1 Diabetes, here's what I've done since diagnosis:
  • I got married
  • I had a baby (there's another blog to be written there, about what the medical advice was like at the time!)
  • I continued my work career in horticulture
  • I rode horses on long distance rides and camping weekends and eventually bred, trained and showed horses all over Queensland - at times towing horse floats over 1000 klms.
  • I took on a teaching degree and career, progressed to top level management and completed a MBA.
  • I rode a motorbike from Townsville, north Queensland through central Australia to Adelaide, then across Victoria to Melbourne, then up the east coast back to Townsville, camping all the way. 
  • I took up cycling in my late 40's and cycled and camped all over Victoria.
  • I travelled to the USA, the UK, France, Spain, Morocco and New Zealand.
  • I hiked the High Atlas in Morocco, cycle toured for a month in France, and off-road cycle toured in New Zealand.

For most of the past 16 years I have chosen to live alone. I travel with friends or my daughter when I can, however I do not expect anyone to carry any share of managing my Type 1 routine, apart from knowing that I have it and knowing what to do if I need help, (when to call an ambulance and what to tell the ambulance / medical team).

I strongly believe that if I hadn't developed T1, I would probably have drifted more, been less determined to get as much as possible out of life and been more quiescent about what came my way, less likely to decide that if I wanted something it was up to me to make it happen.
The Type 1 community grows eveer more connected. New communications technology (social media) has created opportunities to connect and share, reducing the burden of feeling that we are alone and not understood. More frequently now, I get positive reactions from people when I talk about living with Type 1 and comments that show that they understand the difference between T1 andf T2.

I have concerns about ageing and how my needs will be managed in later years, but for now, my arthritis gives me more problems than my insulin dependancy!