Wednesday 19 December 2018

High: 21st Diaversary Musings

21 years ago today, feeling exhausted and battered from all sides after an unprecedented week off work in my sick bed with real ‘flu, I made an emergency appointment with my GP, alarmed by what appeared to be a sudden recurrence of my first bout of “proper” illness since childhood.

It was a dark, wet and windy evening, and I was far from full of festive cheer on that last Friday before Christmas as I sat in a deserted waiting room at the end of the day. A urine sample test revealed sky high blood sugar and the startling revelation that I was displaying the classic symptoms of diabetes.

The full story has been told before, here.

So my diabetes is “21 today” 😊

My "diaversary" always gives me a cause for some reflection, and these days, with a little more time to spare in retirement, I hope that those who know me as part of the online diabetes community will forgive me for the indulgence of sharing them publicly.

Here I am, 21 years on, having lived a third of my life, or half of my adult life, with an incurable, 24/7 medical condition which requires constant treatment and monitoring combined with an awareness of the effects and risks of activities as basic as eating, drinking, sleeping, moving or not moving.

Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it?

But I’m an incurable optimist, a believer in silver linings, and whilst I don’t seriously believe that “everything happens for a reason”, I do believe that we all have the power to turn negatives into positives.

So 21 years on, I can also reflect on the fact that I have in recent years acquired activities, contacts, acquaintances and friends from within the community of people with diabetes, their families, and the healthcare professionals and medical companies who help to care for them. My life has been greatly enriched by them and I find it very hard to imagine what my life would be like without the diabetes community.

And I recently came upon some proof of this: a recent printout from my GP of my HbA1c level over the past five years revealed that the two most striking improvements in my level had occurred as a result of my starting to use flash glucose monitoring in early 2015 (no surprise there) and my starting to interact with the world of diabetes online in 2013. 

My HbA1c, 2013 -2018

Coincidence? Possible, but unlikely.

I think it is highly credible that I became significantly “better” at walking the tightrope of life with diabetes once I started to associate with others who do so, or who help others to do so. The knowledge that there are others out there who “get it”, who understand the frustrations and the triumphs, is of immense benefit, and I very much hope that in receiving that benefit, I have also contributed to it in my own small way.

So thank you to all out there in the #GBDoc and well beyond it: I wish I’d known you were all out there back in December 1997, but then again, many of you didn’t even have diabetes then. Indeed one who has become one of my best friends from the community was celebrating her first birthday on that auspicious date, and was herself still eleven years from developing the condition. Such is the fickle nature of diabetes, yet it gives a strong and lasting bond, borne of a very difficult adversity which in a very strange way makes me feel blessed. Blessed, at least, to have acquired diabetes in the modern world, not that of less than 100 years ago, when it was, in effect, a death sentence. Thank you, Prof Banting!

Faces of GBDoc
Of course, all my posts require an appropriate song as their title, so for this one I've landed on a song that is exactly the age of my diabetes, and which for me evokes memories of some dark days in January 1998 as I adjusted to a life of injections, testing and clinic visits: High by the Lighthouse Family not only gives a nod to my blood sugar level in late 1997, but also has a wonderful sense of optimism, a sense that better days lie ahead. As they did for me on that dark Friday in 1997.

"When you're close to tears remember
Someday it'll all be over
One day we're gonna get so high
Though it's darker than December
What's ahead is a different colour
One day we're gonna get so high"

Listen to the whole song here:

My best wishes for Christmas, 2019 and well beyond, to all those whom I now know as an indirect result of that fateful GP visit back in 1997.

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