When you are diagnosed with diabetes it can a distressing time, both for the patient and the immediate family. This is particularly true of the Type 1 disease which can develop in the matter of a few weeks.
I was diagnosed at an age when it was thought that older people just didn’t get Type 1. People got it as children and then grew old with it. I was quite a celebrity in my doctor’s surgery for a few days, as they only had one other patient out of about 12,000 patients who had got the disease in later life.
Type 1 diabetes is often known as juvenile diabetes and usually occurs in young children and adults under thirty. Type 2 diabetes is said to be an illness of the older age groups, who may have abused their health with a poor diet and a lack of exercise.
However, recently the margins between these two types of diabetes have become blurred. Many youngsters are now suffering from Type 2 diabetes, due to a diet of take-away food and numerous cans of sugary drink.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are very different illnesses, but being diagnosed with either is a life-changing moment. Suddenly there is an extra responsibility to deal with in your life. You are given a host of information in booklet form, and if Type 1, a blood monitoring kit and your first insulin pens.
I know from my own experience that it is scary. First of all you can’t really believe you have diabetes – the diabetic specialist must have it wrong. When you do realize you have it and that it’s here to stay, you wonder how you will ever manage your life.
Such as checking your blood sugar levels the way you’ve been shown, but in the beginning you sometimes forget! Taking oral medication or giving your self an insulin injection. What will your friends and relatives think about it? Will you get the complications the medical team warn you about such as kidney disease, heart failure, stroke, blindness and the rest?
It’s natural to go through a whole range of emotions. It was about three weeks after my diagnosis that the truth of it all overwhelmed me, and I got depressed and shed some tears. People take the news in different ways.
Some people suffer their diagnosis as if it were bereavement, their former way of life having been snatched away from them. This is a time when you appreciate support from your family. They need to understand the illness as well as you do in case they need to help you at any time.
Starting to get it right. However within a few months everything about your new way of life falls into place. You get the healthy diet just right. Exercise is going with a swing, and you’ve learned to manage your medication and keep your blood sugar levels relatively steady. Of course there will be times when things don’t go right, but this can be overcome with some help from your diabetes team.
After all, how long does it take to do a blood test, take a couple of tablets, or give yourself an insulin shot? It just becomes part of your daily routine. And probably you feel healthier than you did before being diagnosed, because now you are on medication that will help you keep well in the years to come.
Accept your diabetes diagnosis and move on to a bright future. Value your health, manage your illness as you’ve been advised by the diabetic team and you will live a long, full, happy life.