Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Where it all began.

Hello everyone,

I think I'm ready to go right back to the start today. Sometimes it's hard delving back into memories of the hard times in life but, as this was a day that did alter the course of my life and will continue to effect me everyday, I feel that this one particular hard time in my life needs to be logged. For the sake of properness if not for anything else. Although hopefully I'll discover unknown benefits of documenting this particular day.

Firstly I'll give you some context of my situation right now. It is a glorious day; hopefully you are too experiencing the many benefits of good weather from where you're reading this. The sun is beautiful and I've set up a little camp in the garden. It's just like the camps I used to make with my cousins when we were little (little in age I mean, I'm still only 5'2 so technically still little in height..) There's a blanket on the lawn and a little den made out of two garden chairs with a blanket over the top.. im very inventive I know ;) My laptop is in it's own little shaded area and the rest of me is sticking out warming in the sun, my alarmingly white legs rejoicing at actually seeing the sun for once. I'm extremely relaxed and content at this moment in time, which is why I think I'm definitely ready to spill about the big D day. So here it is; the lead up, diagnosis and beyond;

Well, without a doubt it had been the 9 hardest weeks of my life and I knew in my head that tomorrow should be the day that it all ended, for a little while at least. Yet in my heart I didn't feel happy, I hadn't gained that sense of relief that I thought my last day of term at Jesus College would bring. Instead I was lying in that small single bed in the tiny room I had desperately tried to make my own, trying to force myself into being happy that I was leaving. But my body just didn't have the energy for happiness, come to think of it, I hadn't really had the energy to do anything at all for the last couple of weeks that had gone by. I'd returned on the Monday afternoon for my last week at Oxford and since then had only attended 1 lecture and spent the rest of the time asleep or taking the exhausting 5 minute walk to sainsburys to buy juice, and lots of it. I'd been constantly thirsty, drinking one litre juice cartons as if they were just a sip of water and still not feeling satisfied. I'd been constantly running to the toilet too. Those middle of the night toilet trips were wearing me out; walking down three flights of cold stone stairs several times each night just to pee was not fun. Although constantly thirsty, I was never really hungry. Anything I did eat I just threw up. I got upset over everything and spent large portions of those last few weeks crying down the phone to whichever exhausted family member I chose to torture that day. A hard maths question, running out of juice, a text from a friend; everything reduced me to floods of tears. I couldn't even read properly, I remember not being able to read a train timetable on my final trip back down to uni and having to get someone to read it out to me. I looked a mess, bloodshot eyes and ghostly white, just generally feeling like my body had given up on me.

But, I of course just attributed this to how I was feeling and the fact that I was in Oxford and hating every second. I figured I was thirsty because I was dehydrated and that I was weeing more because I was drinking more. I thought my eyesight was bad and my eyes were bloodshot because I spent 90% of the time in tears or supressing them. I thought I was tired and sick because my emotions had finally worn my body out and my constant despair had taken it's toll on my physical health. I justified everything, convinced myself that that's all it was and that a few days at home would see me right. So, after having what felt like my 100th wee of the day, I settled down into bed on my final night at Oxford, cried myself to sleep and hoped that everything would be better once I was back where I could be happy again.

My third morning home I was awoken abruptly, and far too early for my liking. I was still convinced that a few more days was all I needed to get back on my feet again, but my parents, who are both nurses, were concerned. It was 8.30 am and my parents told me to get up and get ready for a doctors appointment at 9am. Alarm bells started ringing then; why did I have to go right away, couldn't I just go in a few days? Admittedly, I wasn't actually feeling better physically. On the surface I was feeling happier emotionally now that I was home but the improvement in my physical symptoms hadn't arrived like I'd hoped. My Mam had borrowed the glucose meter from her work and tested my sugars a few times over the weekend, they'd been high, not that I knew what that meant at the time. I'm sure in her head, on that crappy Monday morning, she must've known then that I had diabetes, but she took me to the doctors calmly. We sat in the surgery for a while and my name flashed up on the display, still unhappy at being at the doctors for what I felt was nothing serious, I walked down the corridor and knocked, waited, entered.

"You need to go into hospital Laura." The doctor had been informed of my symptoms and of my latest blood glucose scores and had obviously reached his diagnosis immediately. The word hospital caught me off guard like a rabbit caught by the headlights of a car. Right up until the word hospital I was still denying that there was anything actually wrong with me, and suddenly the H word made it seem all too real, too real to deny. I burst into tears at those words. I was confused and angry but mainly scared. I was taken to the nurses office in the surgery, they tested my sugars and asked me to give a urine sample. Miraculously I actually couldn't wee!

At the hospital I was sent to the emergency assessment unit. The word emergency immediately frightened me but actually arriving there did make me feel a little more relaxed. It wasn't anything like the crazy, scary a&e that I watched on TV every week on casualty, it was calming and quiet and the staff were really helpful and friendly. I was first seen by a consultant working in the EAU and by this point I'd finally stopped crying. He explained to me that he thought I was diabetic, type 1 and he explained to me a little about what it was. To be honest, thinking back I do remember what he said, but when he told me I don’t think I was taking it in at all. I guess I just wasn't realising that this was the most important information I'd ever be given in my life really.

The overall memory of the hospital is a little fuzzy, like I can’t even place myself there, I kind of remember it like it's a story that happened to someone else. I remember a nurse giving me my first ever insulin injection (the first of like a million I guess...) and I remember being shocked when she asked me if I wanted to do it myself. I remember having blood taken with a tiny needle because I was scared of needles, and he had to wiggle about for ages to get enough blood out. I remember that I had corn beef hash for dinner, and peaches and custard and a little carton of orange juice; the last meal I'd ever eat without thinking about its sugar or carbohydrate contents. Then I remember being sent up to meet Maggie, one of my diabetic specialist nurses, for the first time and she was very lovely and at the point of seeing her I felt a lot calmer and almost accepting of it, almost. She showed me the finger pricker and my contour meter and my insulin pen and how to use them and it all seemed very daunting, but at the same time it hadn’t really hit me. I remember seeing a dietician and it dawning on me all of the changes I would have to make to my diet and all of the stuff I would have to give up eating. I remember trying to remember the last time I’d eaten chocolate, sweets and Ben and Jerrys; I don’t think I quite had my priorities sorted at that point! I remember the 4 hour wait we had for my insulin prescription, watching emmerdale and eastenders in the discharge lounge, and the really lovely nurse that apologised loads for our wait. In the end the script never turned up and they gave me the option of staying overnight or coming back at 9am to pick it up. I'd been so happy when they said that I didn't have any ketones and so didn't have to stay overnight, so I of course chose to go home. I remember going home that night, and being really scared about going to sleep, with everything going through my head over and over, I couldn't stop all of the words from repeating over and over. I remember my Mam went straight out and bought lucozade from the coop and told me to put the it by my bed and I didn't really understand why, or what it would feel like to be hypo. I remember texting my best friend to tell her and my Dad telling Antony (my now boyfriend) on the phone and I was more upset that I'd missed them both coming over to see me than being diagnosed; I don't think the diagnosis had sunk in at all. I remember my brother asking me how long it was for and replying, "Well, forever really," and being shocked at the word forever myself. I remember going into the hospital the next day and eating rice crispies and watching Jeremy Kyle in the discharge lounge while waiting for my insulin script. And then they gave me all of my medication and kit. And that was it. I was diabetic. I had the start of the information that I needed and a bag full of strange kit, and a cloudy liquid that would keep me alive and I walked out the automatic doors of the hospital, not quite realising that my life had just changed forever.

After that there was lots of talking to different people, family, friends, saying the same things over and over again and finding comfort in each person's support. My parents and my grandparents and my friends and everyone really were absolute lifesavers in the first few weeks, and still continue to be now. I deal with new stuff to do with it every day and so far I'm pleased with my progress. I got my confidence back to drive with it, I got a job and am immensely pleased with myself for that, I'm going back to uni, I'm getting used to my diet, I've been out in town once with it, I go out with my friends. Basically I'm trying not to let diabetes change me and what I can do and I'm taking small steps to get my life back to normality, well, whatever normality is.

So, there you go. The 7th December 2009 altered everything completely and it's the day diabetes officially entered my life and became more than just an 8 letter word. So. I'm diabetic. I have type 1 diabetes. Diabetes will always be a huge part of my life but I'm determined that, although "diabetic" may be one of the words that can be used to describe be, diabetes won't define me, what I do and who I am.

Thanks for reading. :)



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