Diabetes

This thing has been pretty empty for a while; I feel I should probably write something more often.

On the 28th July 2008, I was diagnosed as type 1 diabetic. I had symptoms for a long time which I (mostly) ignored. This has already proved to be a particularly stupid decision.

I suspect that I had high blood sugar levels for almost 2 years before I was diagnosed. Every minute your blood sugar is outside the “normal” range causes damage to all of the small blood vessels in your body. Some of the main areas of damage are your kidneys and your eyes. When your kidneys are affected, it causes them to become less and less effective. As yet, I have no symptoms of this, but diabetes can eventually lead to kidney failure. My eyes are a different matter. High blood sugar levels damage the capillaries behind the retina. This causes them to weaken and bulge, to the point where they can burst, leaking blood into the eye. The result of this is “floaters” appearing in your field of vision, which look like small fuzzy spots that are virtually impossible to look at directly. A lot of people have some of these; having a couple of these is normal.

Once these blood vessels have burst, it reduces the blood flow to areas of the retina. This can cause parts of the retina to die, leading to black spots in your vision. If this continues for long enough, it can lead to being legally blind.

It can take many years for this sort of damage to begin, but it can also progress very very rapidly. At the moment, I have the initial signs of damage to my eyes – bulges in the blood vessels. This scares the **** out of me. At the moment my vision is unaffected, but some day it will probably start to go wrong. The worst part is that I have no idea of knowing when; it could be tomorrow.

The only way I have of stopping this is keeping as tight control on my blood sugar levels as possible. This involves many injections of insulin each day, and regularly checking my blood sugar. Since diagnosis, I have pricked my finger over 2600 times, and I have given myself over  1000 injections. Every day for the rest of my life I will have to give myself at least 2 injections, sometimes up to 7 or 8. Food no longer holds any joy for me. I have to calculate the carbohydrate in everything  I eat; if it contains any more than the amount in a jaffa cake, I have to consider doing an injection for it.

Oh yeah, and if i calculate the injection wrong, I risk passing out due to low blood sugar, which would be really nasty. I’ve managed to avoid passing out so far, but I’ve come close (or felt like it) a couple of times. It starts off with a light headed feeling, with a weird feeling when moving limbs. Next, comes the shaking; at the point fine movements are very difficult (typing is a difficult; similar to being drunk). This quickly progresses to feeling incredibly faint with intense hunger and a strong sense of panic. This is as low as my blood sugar has been,and I hate it. Something as simple as walking 5 mins to sainsburys can bring this on, so I have to carry round a supply of sugar to bring my BG back up.

All of this (and more) is constantly in the back of my mind; I have only had a few occasions where I could totally forget about my diabetes without the constant worry of what my blood glucose (BG) level is doing, and it isn’t usually long before my mind drifts back to the thoughts of “What if my blood sugar is high? Is it going low? Do I need to test my BG? What exercise am I planning on doing? How much carbohydrate can I afford to have for my next meal”, as well as the million other diabetes related questions constantly swimming around my head.

This is what I have to deal with every day for the rest of my life, no matter what else is going on.

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