Thursday, 14 April 2011

Finding out

I need to point out from the offset that I am not a medical professional, I am not an expert on diabetes and no one should take anything I have to say in this blog as the gospel truth (or any other sort of truth for that matter). I am just a bloke who has been diagnosed with diabetes and thought it might be helpful to share my experiences and thoughts.

So how did I find out?

Well, throughout my childhood I remember my mum being worried I might have diabetes, way before it became popular. I used to drink a lot of water and she’d heard somewhere that thirst was a symptom. This was usually only a worry on hot summer days when I had been playing football for a couple of hours. I was a tubby kid, and a tubby adult. In fact I can only remember two times in my life when I wasn’t, both of which involved me taking up some exercise.

So in January of this year, after returning from an extended holiday, I noticed a thirst that just would not go away. My mouth would feel as dry as a sponge in a desert. And I couldn’t stop going to the loo. It’s funny how these things stay with you, but I thought back to that day with my mum at the kitchen sink pouring me a cold glass of tap water, sweat pouring off my brow, jumpers for goal posts. Surely not! Not me? Diabetes? Other people get that, lazy, overweight people ... oh, right.

I’m only 36 so to get diabetes I must have right royally messed things up. At least that’s how I saw it. I waited about four months before going to the doctors and drank beer, ate sweets and had some truly gout inducing meals. I suppose that was my denial. I suspected I had diabetes because I was also losing weight, another symptom of the disease – and likely the only positive one.

I waited and I waited and then, when the thirsts and lack of undisturbed sleep got too much, I asked my doctor for a blood test.

When the GP practice phoned me the very next day to ask me to come in, Saturday 14 May (my Dad’s birthday), I thought it might be something worse than diabetes! It was at once a relief, confirmation and disappointment when the doctor broke the news.

My immediate reaction was of brave-faced resignation, an acceptance but without the full picture of what I was being accepting of. Once I left the Doctor’s and had no one to be brave-faced toward it really hit me. I was angry with myself for putting myself at risk for so many years, I was angry at the world for making it easier to get diabetes than avoid it, and I was ashamed. I was also very confused and not at all ready to learn what I needed to know about living with and managing this burden.

On the lighter side ... free prescriptions for life!

That was exactly one month ago today and the difference between then and now is vast. I feel I have some of the information I need to cope, not all, but some. I’ve talked about it with friends and I’ve taken up exercise and healthy eating and feel so much better for it. It’s just that constant nagging frustration that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life, what if I’d made those changes a year or two ago?

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