Type 1 Cycling

Type 1 Cycling

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My diagnosis

As it is World Diabetes Day today I though I would post about my diagnosis inspired by the story of @ninjabetic1 which is found on The Independent's website.  Let me start off by saying I was one of the lucky ones.  Like ninjabetic my brother also ended up in hospital with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).  DKA is pretty horrible, when you become diabetic your body thinks you are starving because without insulin your cells do not get enough sugar.  So the body compensates, fat and protein are broken down, this is significant people lose a huge amount of weight.  This makes the problem even worse.  Your cells still aren't getting enough sugar but the body is dumping more sugar into the blood.  So your sugar rises and rises.  The fats that get broken down release ketones into the blood stream.  These ketones cause the blood to become acidic.  It goes with out saying that this is bad.  This is usually the point where people find out they are diabetic.  Your body does not like having and acidic blood stream and it rejects it by telling you in no uncertain terms, pain, lots of it, and vomiting are the main ways.

How do people get to this point?  Well they don't know, their parents/teachers or guardians don't and sometimes their doctors don't know either.  What don't they know? They don't know how to recognise the symptoms of diabetes.  DiabetesUK has a campaign on coinciding with World Diabetes Day to educate people about the 4 Ts. They are:

  • Toilet - you need to pee all the time, I mean ALL the time
  • Thirsty - nothing will quench your thirst
  • Tired - you literally have no energy
  • Thinner - because your body thinks it is starving it breaks down all the fat and protein
Educating people about this will help people realise when they have the symptoms of Diabetes before it gets too serious.  Unfortunately I am talking about Type1 diabetes.  There is no way to prevent it or delay it.  Once you have the symptoms it's not going away.  But you can avoid ending up in hospital like my brother and ninjabetic.

I was lucky, my brother had been diagnosed with Type1 Diabetes 12 years earlier.  At that point, being the budding scientist that I was I learned all about it.  In short when it happened to me I knew early, I knew so early that there was no rushing to get me an appointment with the specialist just a casual blood test and confirmation.

My Story:
October 2004, I had wrapped up my yearly Succot party.  Since I was a student we had been having a get together once a year at my mum's house.  Many (up to 10 in the house at once) of my friends would come over.  We would build a Succah, cook up a storm.  And have a great time.  We had friends come for meals in the freezing cold and rain of Manchester.  Plenty was eaten even more was drunk, and everyone had a good time.  After a couple of days of this I woke up on the Monday morning to get ready to go back to work.  I felt terrible, I was thirsty I had a headache, I was tired.  Of course, I thought to myself.  I am hungover.  Too much partying.  Tuesday morning was the same, and this time I knew I wasn't hung over and my thoughts went back to 12 year previous.  I remembered how thirsty my brother was, he would drink coke because no one had any idea that it was making him worse.  I remembered how tired he was, and ill all the time.  And why did I need to pee all the time, this added up to one thing in my mind.

The thirst, tiredness and needing the toilet all the time got worse all week.  That weekend I was staying with a friend.  A friend I have known most of my life.  He is also a doctor.  I told him what was up, and what I thought it was and like a good friend told me to go see a doctor.  Thanks for that!  He checked some things in a textbook and we read up on it together.  He told me that I needed a fasting blood glucose.  A few days later I went to the doctor.  I got my blood test and I got referred the the Manchester Diabetic Center.  A place were 10 years earlier I had done work experience shadowing Prof Boulton who was head of the center and an expert in Diabetic complications. (At one point I wanted to be a Doctor, a medical one)
My first appointment was mainly with a nurse.  She was wonderful.  I explained I knew something about my disease so she suggested I tell her what I knew and she fill in the gaps.  I did, she didn't have much to add.  But she tried to prepare me for the reality.  As I found out knowing all the theory just does not prepare you.

I was lucky.  I had the knowledge then that they are only just trying to get across to people now.  If I hadn't known a couple of months down the line I would have been in big trouble.  8 years on I am not only healthy but training for endurance cycling.  I have an amazing care team and my friends and family are amazingly supportive. Being Diabetic is a pain in the ass, but I am not letting it get in the way of anything, in fact it gives me more determination to reach my own physical goals. TeamType1 say it best.

"Diabetes doesn't stop us. It fuels us"

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