I’m writing these posts to tell my story I guess. Everyone who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes will have their own story to tell and I figured I can’t write this blog without sharing mine. I’m going to break this up into multiple parts as I think writing the whole story in one post would just put everyone to sleep, which wouldn’t great this early on with this blog!
I will add more details to this story through other posts in the future. This isn’t mean to cover every moment of my life but I guess it could be considered as things I feel are worthy of a mention.
At the age of ten, I was diagnosed as having Type 1 Diabetes.
While I was never the type of kid who would take all of my pocket money down to the local shop and spend it all on lollies and sweet sugary drinks, being admitted to hospital and getting told that I would be on this medicine called ‘insulin’ for the rest of my life and that I would have to avoid foods stacked full of sugar and carbohydrates still came as a bit of a shock to me.
See, apart from drinking a not-over-the-top amount of fizzy drinks, and mum bringing home my favourite chocolate bar from the weekly grocery shopping, I had no idea at that age that even foods that had no added sugar, such as pure orange juice, bread and even some vegetables, would all now have to be balanced out with insulin. What the hell? All the same, diet alterations were made. While it was a bit of a struggle, I got used to it.
When I was diagnosed, the equipment used for checking one’s blood glucose level and administering doses of insulin were… archaic by today’s standards for taking care of Diabetes. The blood glucose meter took TWO MINUTES to provide you with your blood glucose level, and the process required what would now be a huge amount of blood, and you actually had to wipe the blood off the strip yourself before putting the strip in the meter to be analysed. Now the strips use a capillary action to take a comparatively tiny amount of blood, the strip is in the meter before you even start, and it’s only 5 seconds before you know your blood glucose level. Insulin doses were withdrawn from a vial using a syringe and injected. Now I use an insulin pump. (I’ll be writing posts on technology at some point on this blog to fill in the gaps between, so please come back!)
I guess as a kid I always had my parents keeping a watchful eye on my blood glucose level and diet. This worked well in the early years of my Diabetes.
I’m writing this some 28 years on from my diagnosis, so there are probably some gaps in my memories. However, from what I remember, I still tried to live life like any other kid growing up in New Zealand that I knew. I played sport, including cricket and badminton, did a little tramping and later on got into cycling – more on that later, as you’ve probably figured out by the title of this blog! But one of the things I remember with clarity was that when I came home from having spent a week in hospital post being diagnosed with Diabetes, my mum was still doing my injections. I guess I was a little scared of the process. But. It dawned on me. How was I going to go about things if my mother had to do my then twice-daily doses of insulin by injection? How was I going to go and stay at a friend’s place overnight, like a normal kid would if mum still had to do my injections? Enough was enough. One night, sitting on the staircase in the hall, I did my injection myself for the first time (under mum’s watchful eye!).
From these first few years, I honestly can’t remember there being any dramas. But hey… Something might come up, and I’ll certainly consider posting about them.
Sure, I’d had my blood glucose level fluctuate at times. But at the age of fifteen, I woke one Saturday morning to my parents telling me I was late for getting ready for cricket. So I got out of bed and put my feet on the floor…
<cue memory blank>
… The next thing I remember is vomiting from a bed in the hospital. What the hell??? I didn’t even know I’d had an exciting ride in an ambulance. Damn.
Neither my parents nor I can figure out with certainty what had happened. The theory is that I’d confused my insulin dose before bed the night before, my level plummeted overnight, and I ended up in a diabetic coma from hypoglycemia, followed by a trip in the ambulance (trust me… Those trips are FAR more exciting if you can remember them!) and a few days stay in the hospital.
While I was in high school I had the glamourous job of working part-time at a supermarket. One day at work I must have got something wrong. I had tried to fix a low with some lollies and thought I had it under control by the time I started work again after a break. However, while I was packing a customer’s groceries I lost the ability to speak coherently and started to lose coordination, I couldn’t even put a can of some product into a plastic bag. Knowing I was in trouble I just sat down where I was and put my head in my hands. My supervisor got me on my feet and took me to the staff room where I was fed fruit juice, my mum was called and everything came right. Scary.
Aside from this and one or two other memorable incidents where my Diabetes went a little… haywire, I continued living in a fairly similar way to any other teenager. Played some sports, went to school, had a part-time job, mucked around with friends, had a girlfriend, probably gave my parents grief. You know, all of those normal things. Oh. And had Type 1 Diabetes.
I got into cycling through a friend and really enjoyed it. I started out just doing mountain biking and had a great time riding around the hills. I started to compete in some races, including some longer distance races. I seemed to be able to race without too many issues with my Diabetes. Some races were over four hours in duration. I later got into road cycling and enjoyed the road racing scene, making some great friends and travelling for some great races. I grew to enjoy the opportunity to explore and see different places, loved the physical challenges involved and the thrill of barrelling down hills whether it be on the road or off. I was never in the highest grades in races but that didn’t stop me from doing it.
I’ll continue my story in another post. Come back and check it out!