Archive | Complications RSS feed for this section

Jason’s Story

15 Apr

Life is funny, one day your fitting into the smallest clothes you’ve ever been able to get into in your life and you look at yourself in the mirror and you think you look great, the next day your over 1,000km from home you’ve slept 12 hrs in five days and you just want your warm bed at home. Funny how things change so fast.

Infection is funny, you develop an infection your not quite sure of, being Gen Y you decide you don’t need a doctor you persevere and use doctor Google, he has all the answers, eventually after a period of unbearable pain you man up and go see the doctor, he gives you antibiotics and sends you on your way problem solved!!!

Wrong, it dissipates for a time and then comes back with a vengeance but you decide you don’t like doctors so your not going back, your young stupid and full of pride and ego.

But deep down something is amiss gradually over time you become more and more angry and snap at people at the drop of a hat, you start eating more and more and more drinking more and more water. People close to you suggest you might have diabetes, but you don’t want to hear it, afterall the mere thought of such a thing is scary, you saw what pig headedness did to your father with his complications from type 2 diabetes eight years previous.

Nope!!! Not me, finally after coming home from
Holidays and going another month of 0 energy and eating and drinking like a horse I finally get the courage to go and get myself looked at…. queue the microphone drop moment when the nurse sprints in, “you don’t have diabetes do you ??” Nope… “mm well now you do..” your blood sugar is supposed to be between 4-8 & yours is 26..

There’s that all consuming life Changing moment, when you realise that your life will never be the same again, you come home and start getting used to your new life and where it will take you.

But it’s not all bad, they don’t tell  you that yes in a years time you’ll get diagnosed with the beginnings of diabetic retinopathy even though your not supposed to have it for atleast five years. That originally way back when you first developed your infection you actually developed type 1.5 diabetes and that it got completely overlooked which explains the retinopathy. A year after the retinopathy you’ll also begin to develop cataracts because secretly you always wanted to be a horse…

But life works in mysterious ways… this life changing event will be the beginning of a whole new life for you. You’ll get introduced to the Australian online Diabetic community, all because you can’t work out what to eat a day after your diagnosis, you’ll come accross amazing blogs like Renza’s diabetogenic and you’ll make life long friends.

And soon before you know it you’ll meet the love of your life and your partner and type 2 diabetic Irina & you’ll both get a second chance at life and love and everything that’s good in the world and you wouldn’t change your diabetes diagnosis for anything because it’s changed and improved upon your life so much and you never want to go backwards.

Life is good, life is interesting, life is full of surprises some good and some bad, but at the end of the day we live each day the best we can and to the fullest

Jason Type 1 Diabetic Sydney Australia

Advertisements

Defining Complications

20 Mar

Oxford English Dictionary definitions:-

1) A circumstance that complicates something; a difficulty

2) An involved or confused condition or state

3) A secondary disease or condition aggravating an already existing one.

Synonyms:-

An issue, a complexity, intricacy or convolution.

Origin:-

From Latin “complicare” meaning to fold together.

When people speak of complications in the context of diabetes, there is an unspoken, implicit or inferred presumption that the phrase means only a narrow range of specific conditions ( e.g. Neuropathy, Retinopathy), and the the person with diabetes will have brought about these by their actions or inactions.

In my opinion, all of these presumptions are wrong, but not only that, they are very unhelpful.

Synonyms for presumption include:-

Presupposition, an automatic inference, prejudgment and PREJUDICE.

No wonder the conversations about complications in diabetes produce so much judgment and blame!

So, firstly, I would prefer to talk about the issues, complexities and intricacies of living with diabetes, not complications. And secondly, I want to emphasise that they are NEVER caused deliberately by the person living with the condition, but are simply responses to the combination of disease, genetics, physiology and circumstances that people with diabetes may (emphasise that MAY too) encounter during their life.

Having got all the ground rules established, I’ll now tell you what I think of as the intricacies of living with diabetes after having had the condition for 42 years.

The first thing I associate with having diabetes is always feeling a bit tired. It’s a sort of chronic fatigue, and I believe it’s borne of loss of sleep from nighttime hypos, variation in blood sugar levels that results in biochemistry mutating into a physiological effect, and the niggling nag at the back of your mind all the time that you’ve not done something you should have.

The impact of this amorphous haze of weariness that seems to be permanently present is unsurprisingly a degree of grumpiness. This in turn affects relationships, whether at home or work or with friends, who funnily enough get pretty fed up with your always seeming to be in a bad mood and short tempered. Even the most patient or knowledgable about diabetes make it clear at some point that it’s you, person with diabetes, that is in the wrong. It’s your fault.

First strike, as they say. First blame on you. You’ve failed. You must be doing something wrong otherwise why would you feel so tired all the time.

Wrong. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re coping with a disease that is ever present, so in many ways you could argue they should see you as permanently “unwell” (although we all want to be as well as we can all the time, so I don’t like this way of thinking). The “grumpiness” is caused by the condition, not by you.

Nevertheless, unless you recognise this, it’s pretty easy to become dispirited, demoralized and think that all your efforts at managing your blood sugars are failing. So why bother.

Impact no 2 of tiredness – “burnout”. You give up trying.

Result? Worse blood sugars, you feel worse, you become even grumpier.

A vicious circle develops which becomes a vortex taking you down into depression.

Another “issue” that is not unknown with diabetes, but is also not recognised as a “complication”.

The feeling of being a burden on others can arise even if you’re lucky enough not to feel tired and grumpy, just from all the things you do simply by handling diabetes:-

You’ll be interested in the carb content of food you’re going to eat, and may have other die try requirements that can accompany having diabetes, like being gluten intolerant, you’ll need to do blood sugar tests that involve pricking your finger, you might need to inject insulin or dig a pump out to bolus. Most people will try hard to avoid having a hypo, and will try to look ahead to anticipate what might go wrong and lead to a situation where low sugar is likely. Sometimes this “anticipating” can lead to obsessive planning, which results in extra food being taken, sometimes considered unnecessary by others, or a reluctance to be spontaneous, so you’re thought of as a “drag”.

All of these actions can produce curiosity or frowns faces, but even if the people you’re with are used to you doing these, you’ll know they are aware and you’ll know you are different from them.

By being “apart” or not fitting in or not “belonging”, some people can feel isolated and develop negative self-esteem.

Then there’s the actual capability test – can you stand up to your peers’ scrutiny and do the sums to work out how much insulin you need, just like they can?

In this context, I was told recently that university researchers (at Glasgow I think) determined that on average a person with Type 1 Diabetes makes 100 extra decisions a day, compared to somebody without diabetes. And at a conference last week, it was stated that other research had found the maths ability of many diabetics is equivalent to that of an 11 year old. So, firstly, don’t feel bad – you have to think more that people who don’t have the condition, and secondly, don’t feel different if maths is a struggle – it seems it is for many of us. I shudder to think what the ability is in the population at large too!

In the UK we are exceptionally lucky to have the NHS which means we don’t pay for insulin and other consumables. I saw a photo today of a till receipt for $807 for 3 vials of

Humalog insulin from an American pharmacy (Walgreens, effectively the US version of Boots)! So we’re lucky and grateful.

However, there can be hidden financial costs even here, with food for low carb diets costing more, hypo treatments like dextrose tablets or lucozade, continuous glucose monitor sensors or flash sensors if you buy them, and the tech kit like smart phones or watches to get the benefit of the readings conveniently. I have developed some neuropathy in my feet, and now find it very hard to know whether a pair of shoes fits well. It therefore takes me a long time to be sure I’m getting a pair that will be comfy and won’t rub, and there’s always a risk I’ll buy a pair only to find after a week that they don’t fit and I need to spend the same again to get the next size up!

All this expenditure mounts up, with some things being prohibitively dear, but how many of them either are pretty much essential or make such a difference we would really miss them? We may not have to pay for medical supplies like insulin, but the burden of finding the money for all the other things that are not explicitly diabetes-related can be substantial, leading to worry, etc. etc.

If you haven’t slit your wrists yet, you’ll be relieved to know I think there’s a silver lining to all these negative aspects – effectively they antonyms to the words I prefer to “complication”.

Firstly, you’re managing the condition, you’re coping with it.

Synonyms for these words are “tackling”, “sorting out”, “contending with”, “facing up to”, “handling”.

These all have positive connotations in people’s minds, being good attributes, associated with traits like courage, determination, perseverance. Bear those in mind. You’ve got all of them.

Secondly, you make a lot of decisions every day. If you have Type 1 Diabetes the anecdote about the research is you make an AVERAGE of 100 extra decisions every day (so some days it might be an extra 150!) compared to other people who don’t have diabetes. (I’m afraid

I have no similar anecdote about research relating to Type 2 Diabetes, but it stands to reason, people with that condition will also be making more decisions than people without diabetes).

This decision making involves getting information, weighing up the options and judging which gives the best outcome. It’s not a knee-jerk choice. That “consideration” process is also considered to be a good attribute, so you’ve got that to accompany your ability to decide (another positive).

When you’ve made a decision, you then have to check to see whether your prediction about the outcome was right. This “monitoring” often involves recording stuff (blood sugar readings for example) over time, and analysing it for patterns.

Depending on what your checking finds, you might have to change what you’re doing in some way, adjusting a temporary basal rate for example.

And you have to do these things all the time, every day, in varying amounts depending on how many curve-balls diabetes throws at you that day. Often you’ll have very little time to make each of these considered choices too, so you have an inherent ability to handle pressure, whether you realise it or not.

Making one decision at a time with a break between each one is perhaps not as impressive as I’ve made it sound. However, from my experience, the decision making frequently has to take account of several factors at once. For example:-

I was intending going for a swim today. I usually do about 45 minutes to cover about 1 km in the pool doing front crawl. I had put in the temporary reduced basal rate for about 30 minutes, about an hour before I was planning to go, and I’d eaten 30 g of carbs. then I go to drive to the pool and the battery is flat.

So, I have to decide what to do to take account of the the temporary basal rate and the extra carbs, now I’m not swimming. Do I put in more insulin to correct, only that will take about an hour to start working by which time my sugar will be high, or do I do alternative exercise? If so, what and for how long?

I chose to go for a walk for about 40 minutes and bolus for the extra carb I had eaten.

Two and a half hours later, I’m now sitting at 4.6 mol/l and likely to need a bit more carb to ensure I don’t go lower before dinner. So, nearly, but not quite!

This is a relatively simple example, but it shows how many factors there are to take into account, and plan for, some before starting out when there’s plenty of time to consider, some requiring decisions on the hoof, and how it’s not always possible to get them all right.

I reckon having to make judgements taking into account multiple factors is more common in diabetes than most people think, so everybody with the condition will almost certainly have done this, probably without recognising it.

This waffle is written from the perspective of somebody with Type 1 diabetes, and I confess I know relatively little in comparison about Type 2. However, I am aware that its causes are complex and not particularly well understood yet.

I’d argue there is no benefit in shaming or blaming people with any type of diabetes as all it is likely to do is to reduce their self-esteem which as I’ve explained earlier is likely to be already under pressure from themselves.

So, I would suggest we focus on the achievements people with diabetes realise every day and please let’s not use the word “complications”!

There are so many issues and complexities folded together with a broken pancreas that to label only a small number of traits, (which are effectively identifiable physiologically), is a gross over-simplification.

Far better to encourage and value the positive attributes from coping with the condition, like the endurance, stamina, and strength of will required to get up each day and every day to deal with it. Any other approach in my opinion is prejudicial to helping the person with diabetes.

Brian’s Story

28 Feb

Let me introduce myself, I’m Brian Black I live in Arizona, United States. So my journey with my Type 1 Diabetes started real late in my life. So it all began about this time eight years ago. My health seemed to Plummet into this terrible abyss. My body began to ache, had no energy to make it through the day. Then one morning when I woke up my foot was swollen and when I step out of bed to walk, I felt something just burst and blood and fluid covered my left foot. I was scared for what had just occurred. So off to the Emergency Room I went. Upon arriving at the hospital. The Triage Nurse ask me why I was there. I showed her my foot. The first words out her mouth was I a Diabetic. My answer to her was no, that I had never been diagnosed. At that point everything seemed be happening very quick. I was taken to a bed and many blood draws began. I was put on a I.V. and Oxygen. Things seemed to getting worse. I started Vomiting fiercely. Then the E.R. Doctor arrived. He began to explain to me, my body was in DKA. My response what was that. So he explained and told I was very sick man with life threatening illness. So I was off to ICU to be monitored continuously throughout the night. The next morning I was moved to a regular room. They had stabilized from Blood Sugars and Oxygen Levels. So this when I meet this Female Doctor of Podiatry. She came to my room to examine my feet. As the examination continued, she began tell me that it wasn’t going to be a good outcome. That most likely I was going to loose several of my toes or even my whole left foot. So the first surgery would be later that day, to debrief the Infection in my foot. The outcome from this surgery was some what encouraging. That there would an Amputation of The Small Toe and the Removal of The Metatarus. I would spend the next 21 days in the Hospital going through two more surgery’s. And countless Blood Test to formulate a Antibiotic Cocktail to kill the Infection that was still causing me problems. So I went home with one less toe and a broken ego and Type One Diabetes’s It took over me several years to come terms and not to blame myself for the Complications that this Disease of Diabetes brings upon us. Everyday I work hard to take care of myself with my Diabetes. So I leave you with this No Blame and No Shame.

Type 2 – It’s Complicate Too

25 Feb
8.5 years. That’s how long I’ve had type 2 diabetes. I still remember the look of surprise and shock on my gynaecologist’s face, as he went through my blood test results, then:
‘Did we get you checked for BSL  at the start of your pregnancy?’
‘Yes, they were 4.9.’
‘Hmm, I’m afraid your levels are still as high as those after your Glucose Tolerance Test.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘It’s a carbohydrate intolerance and  formally a diabetes diagnosis. We’ll send you to see an endocrinologist.’
‘But how? Isn’t Gestational Diabetes supposed to be cleared, once the pregnancy is over? What is going on?’
‘In a very small number of women, it may stick by, never leaves.’

And there it was. The start of a journey that took me to so many highs and lows.

I was just discharged from a 3.5 week hospital stay, after dealing with pregnancy complications and a horrible loss. I wasn’t sure if my body could handle more blows.

I went home and had a good cry. It wasn’t fair. I was still young, sometimes slightly overweight but always active. Life had already thrown so many curveballs during that pregnancy. This was the last thing I needed.

As I slowly learned to cope, another challenge was waiting for me: the prying eyes, the food police, the never ending comments that left me feeling guilty and accused. Accused of what? Did I cause my diabetes? I was and still am trying my best and doing a good job to maintain the balance. I didn’t need that. It was already hard to keep a lid on my mental health issues, plus a host of other chronic diseases that have been tiring and draining me in their own right. Did I need or deserve these looks of disdain?

It is something when it comes from casual bystanders or ‘friends’. How about health care professionals who have barely met you, but as a type 2, you are instantly branded ‘non-compliant’, ‘closed- minded’ and ‘resistant to change’.

Over the years, my diabetes has changed. I had to see HCPs to seek advice. But that was it. I needed advice and guidance. I needed support and, may be, a pat on the back for a job well done. 8.5 years of diet and exercise controlled diabetes. Surely I deserved something positive. Alas, it wasn’t to be found in this Diabetes Educator’s office. Her claws were out to get me, to get every tiny effort I desperately made to make her see me, make her see my efforts, see my achievements and may be, if I was lucky, to congratulate me.

NOTHING!

Absolutely nothing!

I had just seen her treating her type1 patients with so much patience and tolerance. How can a change from type 1 to type 2 shift her behaviour and approach?

I was not impressed. I was hurt; deeply hurt and offended.

I left her office never to go back again.
__________________________

Irina, living with T2D, Sydney, Australia

Risk Management

19 Feb

There is this guy I know.

I’ve known him all my life

From birth he has lived with a condition that will ultimately end his life.

He lives with the risk of health issues that will complicate his life if he gets them.

Heat Attack, Stroke, Cancer, you know the score.

He’s always looked after himself on the whole.

Of course he’s had his moments.

After all you have to enjoy the life you are given right?

But overall he has tried to minimise the risk of these life complicating health issues.

 

Just over a week ago he had a Stroke.

Caused by a blood clot in his neck.

It affected his arm and speech to a degree.

It’s been removed now and he is on the mend.

 

At no point through this has anyone made him feel like it’s his fault.

No one has laid blame anywhere.

No one has him feel like he has failed.

Because he hasn’t!

He’s lived his life to the best of his ability for him and the befit of his family.

He’s tried to minimise the risks as best he can whilst maintain his quality of life.

 

His Condition?

Being alive – The Human Condition.

 

The Person?

My Father.

 

He’s going to be ok.

He’s a resilient bastard.

Just a bit too happy at times for my liking…….

 

So if you wouldn’t blame a guy whose tried to live his life his way for his “Complication”

Then why the fuck would you blame a Person With Diabetes for doing theirs?

#TalkAboutComplications

Live Long and Bolus.

Grumps.

 

Stars in my eyes.

28 Jan

IMG_8450

When someone asks me if I live with diabetes complications, my automatic response is ‘no’. It’s usually followed by some qualifier such as ‘thank goodness’ or ‘touch wood’ or some other ridiculously superstitious muttering that I don’t actually believe.

But my response is not really one hundred percent correct.

Setting aside short-term complications such as hypoglycaemia, I have lived with diabetes complications. You see, when I was 28 years old, after having diabetes for only four years, I was told I had cataracts in both of my eyes. I checked to make sure I wasn’t in fact an 80-year-old grandmother, and when certain that wasn’t the case, I indignantly demanded that my lovely ophthalmologist (who I have a little bit of a crush on) explain how a young woman could possibly be the owner of matching cataracts.

As it turns out, I was probably always going to get them. Both my parents currently have cataracts and all four of my grandparents had them removed. ‘The likelihood of you having cataracts was always pretty high,’ Dr Ophthalmologist explained. ‘But undoubtedly, diabetes accelerated their development.’ Diabetes: the gift that never stops bloody giving.

For twelve years I lived in fear during the lead up to my annual eye screening, believing my time was up and they would need to come out. I’d made a pact with my ophthalmologist: the cataracts could stay as long as they were not affecting my vision or preventing him from getting a truly good look at what was going on behind my retinas.

As I often do when it comes to diabetes, I made deals with myself: as long as I could still read clearly, the cataracts could stay. As long as I could still see the gorgeous face of my little darling kidlet, the cataracts were welcome. As long as I didn’t need to squint or blink to focus, the cataracts could remain.

And the psychological deal was that as long as my age in years started with a three, those fucking cataracts could cloud my eyes and I’d live with it.

Except then, with my fortieth birthday on the horizon, and middle age crises looming all around me, my vision started to be affected. I stopped driving at night time because the bright light starburst of oncoming cars meant I was often temporarily blinded and couldn’t see what else was happening on the roads. I started to need to shine a bright light directly onto whatever I was reading to illuminate the words so I could make sense of the story.

I knew it was time.

At my next visit, I told my doctor that I needed the cataracts removed. He nodded as he was looking at my retinas. ‘Renza, I can’t get a good look at everything going on back there. I’m sure it’s all still fine, but I can’t be certain. I say they need to go, too.’

So, we scheduled two surgeries (I’d used those twelve years of deal making to convince my ophthalmologist that the cataracts would be removed under general anaesthetic because there was no way I was going to be awake while he came at me with sharp objects and stuck them in my eyes), and three weeks after I turned forty, the first cataract came out. Another three weeks later, I had the second cataract removed. The surgeries were painless, easy, and recovery was ridiculously stress-free. I realised afterwards that I’d been seeing the world through sepia-coloured lenses and for the first few weeks post-surgery, I was actually startled by the colour of the sky.

I could see clearly – a blessing and a curse because suddenly those forty-year-old lines on my face, previously blurred thanks to my cloudy vision, became crystal clear. I dealt with this blow by simply dimming the lights when I was putting on my makeup to avoid spending too much time scrutinising the wrinkles, and renamed them laugh lines, congratulating myself on all I’d seen to cause them!

But while the outcome was all positive, emotionally I was a bit of a wreck. Even though I could understand that shitty genes would probably have meant I was going to grow cataracts, was I to blame somehow for their rapid and early onset? There was some time when I was newly diagnosed that my A1c was way outside target and surely my punishment was diabetes-related eye complications. I felt guilty and guilt-ridden, (damn six years of Catholic school).

And I was embarrassed. What sort of twenty- or even thirty-year old gets cataracts? And who needs cataract surgery the minute they turn forty? I tried to joke about it to cover up just how shamed I felt.

Because that’s what happens with diabetes complications. We are told that if we get them, somehow they happen because of our shortcomings. Obviously, this happened to me because I didn’t do as I was told; because I wasn’t good enough; because I didn’t take my diabetes seriously enough. That’s what I was threatened with the day I was diagnosed; that’s what all the literature about diabetes complications says. My failure to look after myself properly resulted in cataracts. Sure, I got off lightly with a pretty easily managed complication, but still, a diabetes complication nonetheless.

But of course, that’s not the case. Complications just happen sometimes. Of course we know that there are things we can do to minimise the risk, but we can’t eliminate that risk completely. Pointing blame does nothing but stigmatise living with complications and, for many, that results in not seeking care.

Talking about complications – openly and easily – is a way to reducing the shame. In the same way that no one asks to get diabetes, no one asks to get diabetes-related complications. Stop the stigma, stop the shame and let’s talk about it and support each other.

Fear of Complications or Inspired by Them?

22 Jan

I remember the conversations started a few days after I was diagnosed. A throat infection had masked the symptoms and I was admitted to hospital in a DKA coma, I would remain in hospital as the medics brought my blood glucose levels down and I have no memory of those first few days.  One of my first memories after diagnosis were of my Nan coming to the hospital to visit me and she told me that one of her friends had diabetes and she had to have her feet cut off because she did not look after her diabetes, that was the first of many negative conversations about diabetes throughout my life.  I was just 5 years old and this conversation happened in Basildon hospital in 1977.  I am sure that my Nan was trying to make me see how important it would be for me to take care of my health and my diabetes, I could not understand how something that made me use the sugars I ate that had broken in my body was related to the possibility of having my feet cut off but the fear she created in me with her well-intended comments has never really left me.

Please don’t judge my Nan badly, in 1977 the impact of psychology on physical health was ground breaking research and had not been adopted by health care professionals or laymen. Tools for managing diabetes did not really exist either, to put this into context there was no self-monitoring of blood glucose, that technology did not exist yet, I was prescribed just one injection per day of an insulin called Monotard, an insulin that was derived from cows or pigs.  We soon found out that I was allergic to cow (bovine) insulin and we switched to pig (porcine) insulin which I could just about tolerate.  The HbA1c test did not exist yet either, or if it did was not available in my hospital.  My expectations of life with diabetes were set at that early stage, it soon became clear that good ‘control’ was important but without any tools to bring about control or ways to measure that control we were unable to make any informed decisions to bring about any form of control, instead we were in a battle for daily survival.  As a teenager, I rebelled against my diabetes skipping injections, eating what I wanted, when I wanted, transition care for diabetes did not exist and I refused to attend diabetes clinic for about 10 years before I finally realised in my late twenties that if I wanted to live with diabetes on my terms I had to make some concessions.

I could write many stories about growing up with diabetes but in this article let’s move the clock forward to 2006. It is now 29 years since diagnosis, I am married to Denise and we have two daughters and we are now living in South Wales.  I am attending diabetes clinic regularly and I have settled into a routine with my diabetes, my family and my life.  I decided that I wanted to be an early adopter for an insulin pump and I had worked with my HCP team to make this happen in 2006.  My insulin pump provided me with the tools to improve my diabetes management, everything was good, I felt better than ever, my HbA1c dropped to 7% (that is 53 for all of the newbies out there) and life was treating me well.

I have secretly made a pact with myself that I am going to see my great grandchildren, my own daughters are just 4 years old and 2 years old at this time. I had already been told that there are changes in the blood vessels in my eyes that needed to be reviewed more carefully and more often and I had been seeing an ophthalmic surgeon once a year for the past 3 or 4 years.  On this day in 2006 I went to see the surgeon feeling surprisingly relaxed, I knew that improving my diabetes management via my insulin pump were going to stabilise the changes in my eyes.  After the examination, the surgeon would always chat to me about the changes he had seen, or not, and then we would tell me to come back in a year.

I could not have been more surprised that day when the surgeon said that there were significant changes that were threatening my sight since my last appointment. I explained that my HbA1c was better than ever, that I was on an insulin pump and his response hit me like a bolt out of the blue “that explains the changes we are seeing, in people with long term type 1 diabetes who rapidly improve their control we sometimes see significant changes in the eyes”.  This felt like diabetes giving me a real kick in the teeth, I had worked my arse off, brought my HbA1c into target range for the first time ever and this is the benefit?  The surgeon went on to explain that continuing to maintain, and even improve, my diabetes management was still essential in maintaining my eyesight and that the long term benefits would certainly outweigh the short term ‘bad news’.  The surgeon then told me that he needed to perform laser surgery on my eyes and he explained what he would do, how he would do it, what were the risks of doing the surgery and the likelihood that if the surgery was not performed I may experience a bleed that could permanently damage or destroy some or all of my vision.  As I began to process this news I asked him when would the surgery take place, I could never have been prepared for his answer when he said in about 10 minutes.

I was given another dose of the drugs which dilate the eye and I was asked to go to the waiting room to allow the additional drops to work. My wife and daughters were in the waiting room and as I walked out half blinded by the drugs in my eyes I knew that I wanted to see my daughters grow up and although my own children were only 2 and 4 years old I made a pact there and then that I would see my great grandchildren, I knew then that I would do whatever it takes to maintain my health for as long as possible.

The surgery went well and over the course of about 6 rounds of laser surgery my retinopathy was stabilised, the treatment I received was excellent and once I recovered from the shock I knew that the treatment approach was right, find a problem and deal with it immediately.

At the time of that surgery I was a 35 year old guy who was carrying too much weight and an active day was walking down the stairs at work, but only if the lift was broken. So, what has changed for me since then?  I started to become more active doing some walking (because I really hated running) in the hills and mountains in the UK and I then went on to do the Welsh 3 Peaks challenge and the 3 Peaks challenge, then after too much wine one evening in 2013 I agreed to run a 5k race, did I mention that I hated running?, and this inspired me to train for a run a half marathon.  I was now 41 years old, and I thought if I can run a half marathon after living with type 1 for 36 years anybody can do it.

On the 2nd of October 2013 I completed the Cardiff half marathon, I never anticipated that it would lead to a phone call from JDRF inviting me to join them for a little challenge and on the 21 June 2014 along with 16 others with type 1 diabetes I watched the sunrise from the summit of Kilimanjaro.  Throughout my training to climb Kilimanjaro I continued to run, did I mention that I hated running?  I found that my diabetes was easier to manage if I took part in regular physical exercise and running was something I could just about anywhere and this is a huge advantage when your job takes you all over the place.  I began to realise that the running was offering me benefits that I could have never anticipated, my blood pressure was now dropping, my cholesterol was dropping, my weight was dropping and I had more energy.  These factors all lower my risks of diabetes complications.

This year I celebrated 40 years of living with type 1 diabetes and to mark the occasion I ran 40 half marathons in a year (did I mention that I hated running), finishing the challenge in Swansea on 26 June 2017 just a few days before the anniversary of my diagnosis. My running campaign had a number of goals, for me personally it was an endurance challenge that pushed me and my diabetes well beyond my comfort zone but it was more than that, it was a campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

The next chapter in my story is that my retinopathy remained stable until a few months ago and it has now become maculopathy, I continue to receive excellent care and the situation is being closely monitored. When treatment becomes necessary for my maculopathy it will be dealt with immediately.  Will I get to see my great grandchildren?  I certainly plan to.  However, whatever complications that my diabetes puts in my path I will continue to make every single day count, is that my old fears of complications coming through or is it a realisation that my health is a gift?  I am not sure of the answer but I certainly like the results.

For the last few months I have been enjoying a rest from the running and investing my time into the creation of the website which is dedicated to type 1 diabetes and exercise (1bloodydrop.com). I am working to create a resource which answers the questions what should I do to manage by blood glucose before, during and after I exercise?  We have created video blogs which discuss long distance running, mountain climbing, swimming, weight lifting, football, 5-a-side football and we have some amazing interviews with experts in the field of diabetes and exercise.

What is next? 1bloodydrop.com is putting a team of type 1 ‘athletes’ (an athlete is anybody who is willing to give it a go in my book) together and we are going to set a new record for the most people with type 1 diabetes to run a half marathon together.  The current record is held by the team at 1bloodydrop and is 29 runners with type 1, now we are aiming to get 101 runners with type 1 diabetes to run with us at the Swansea half Marathon on 24 June 2018, join us at http://1bloodydrop.com/videos/swanseahalfmarathon2018/