Living with Diabetes: A Pain in My Pancreas

[Originally written, April 1st, 2011]

I am one of 171 million people living in the world with Diabetes Mellitus, or Diabetes as it is commonly known. It has affected my lifestyle greatly after contracting it in February last year [2010]. Since then, my life has changed drastically, and certain parts of it has to revolve around my health.

Glaucometer for Measuring Blood Sugar

Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes—is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger).” – Wikipedia

There are three types of Diabetes, Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. I have to live with Type 1 Diabetes. This means that my body does not produce the insulin I need to break down the sugar in my body efficiently.

“Type 1 diabetes mellitus is characterized by loss of the insulin-producing beta cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas leading to insulin deficiency. This type of diabetes can be further classified as immune-mediated or idiopathic. The majority of type 1 diabetes is of the immune-mediated nature, where beta cell loss is a T-cell mediated autoimmune attack” – Wikipedia

Basically this means that my own immune system attacked the part of my Pancreas that creates the insulin. Beforehand I suffered from all the symptoms for Diabetes, [which in hindsight were pretty obvious] and I was ill for around a week. I could not keep any food or drinks down and I was sick so much, I actually burned all the tastebuds of my mouth from constantly being sick.

The day I went into hospital I suffered from a severe pain in my right shoulder. I had no idea why, and I still don’t, but the pain was large enough for me to shout for someone to call a doctor, which I have never done for any kind of pain in my life. I went to a local doctor’s surgery and they initially diagnosed me with Gastroenteritis, which is a stomach infection I believe, but they sent me to an actual hospital for more tests, which revealed that I had just had the sudden onset of Type 1 Diabetes.

I was in hospital for another week, connected to an IV drip for the most part, [which they put in my right arm. This meant I couldn’t move it, and I am right-handed on pretty much everything in life].

Becoming a Diabetic couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I had been and still was under a lot of stress revising and preparing for my GCSE’s, my final exams before College. So it wasn’t the best time to contract an incurable ‘disease’.

Everything changed for me that week, my diet has had to change quite a lot, to make up for the fact that I cannot have as much sugary foods all the time. I have had to get used to taking my blood-sugar levels and injecting Insulin four times a day, EVERY day. I have to take care with what I eat, to make sure I am not ingesting obscene amounts of sugar. I felt depressed with it all. Everything I used to eat and drink, had to change to diet or sugar-free versions, or left out altogether.

It is hard living with Diabetes. Especially when you have to take care with what you eat even more, and have to inject yourself at each and every main meal [i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner]. I find that going out to restaurants for lunch and dinner are harder as I have to find a bathroom, because I feel incredibly awkward and self-conscious if people can see me doing my injections at the table. I don’t look around but I feel that they are giving disgusted or questioning looks that I do not like to deal with.

It’s now been just over a year since I got Diabetes, and it has been a hard one. It is the single biggest thing that has happened to me in my entire life, and it will never go away easily. The only way right now is to have a Pancreas transplant, but apparently, most cases just contract it again, and again. I have learned to cope with it, but it still makes me feel saddened when I think about it. So I try not to. I still have an active social life, and I can trust all of my friends to look out for me while I quietly deal with it.

I won’t lie: It’s tough. But I cope, and try to carry on regardless.


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