Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I run on insulin

Ever since my first entry in January I've felt like there's a specific topic I should write about. I don't know why I haven't done it already or why I'm even writing this one now, but I feel like I should.

I have type 1 diabetes, and have been a diabetic since 2007. Type 1 diabetes is the kind you're born with but no one is entirely sure why for instance I got it but not my sister. Type 2 is the "famous" one often confused with type 1, which often is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genes. Being a type1 diabetic means that my body no longer produces insulin, a hormone helping my body to use the glucose in my blood to give me energy. If you're interested in the details you can read more about it here.

The older generation sometimes say that the youth is a bunch of lazy people whose brain is barely challenged. Well, fortunately for me, that's not the case. My brain is constantly busy with counting carbs for my meal, calculating possibilities of unforeseen events likely to affect my blood sugar and when my next meal will be. It's never a dull moment for my brain I suppose.

 Since 2008 I've used an insulin pump, which is a device which purpose is to copy the human pancreas. I wear it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except from when I'm showering. I also wear a device shaped like a large button monitoring my blood sugar levels every 10 minutes. You just got to love technology! This button and a juice box has saved my life so many times, as I've stopped waking up during sleep when my blood sugar gets too low. Basically, low blood sugar equals death. And high blood sugar (over time) also equals death. 

Having a diagnosis like diabetes has it's pros and cons, mostly cons. The only pros I can think of is that I'm a hell of a multi-tasker, organizer and mental calculation. The cons are an endless list. Like having a low blood sugar needed to be treated immediately during a seminar, or a high blood sugar during a two hour exam causing you to start day dreaming about going to the toilet. 

Wearing an insulin pump also has its pros and cons, and the pump has gotten me into strange situations. Like when people think I in 2014 am wearing a phone in those old fashioned belt purses attached to your pants, or when they think I'm wearing a phone in my bra even though I have clothes with pockets. I have also been forced to explain that no, I don't have three breasts, it's just my insulin pump. And of course the inevitable "no, I'm not touching my breast, I'm touching the buttons of my pump".

Being at uni with diabetes isn't easy, international student or not. It affects your level of performance during exam, your mental presence during seminars or lectures and a whole lot of insecurity. You don't really want to show off your pump or blood sugar device to your new friends right away, but you are at the same time forced to inject insulin if you don't want to run to the toilet 24/7. I have actually just told one of my friends from Brookes that I have diabetes, but I think many of them have figured it out already. When I have to measure my blood glucose level I "hide" the whole process in my purse, but I guess it's pretty obvious what I'm doing in there. And if they haven't figured it out they probably think my phone is attached to my body with a plastic tube and that I wear my phone in my bra.

Alcohol and diabetes isn't the best combination either, most things are in fact not good in combination with diabetes. Except for vegetables and exercise. But you can't stop living either. That's why diabetics do the same as non-diabetics. And yes, we eat candy. And drink soda. And eat cake. But the thing about alcohol is sometimes tricky. The police or your friends might perceive you as wasted, at the same time as you're actually having a low blood sugar. So if you don't want to tell all your friends that you have diabetes, at least tell one of them. Just in case. There are cases every year where diabetics die because of the misperception between being drunk and having a low blood sugar.

And also know that Brookes has an excellent medical team ready to help you if you're having any kind of trouble.

Now I really have to go to the bathroom. Again.

All pictures from pinterest.com