Ditzy is not a word I’d use to describe myself. In my head I am the epitome of organised. I had a Filofax when I was 14. Stationery, pens and lists, are the centre of my world. When I set up my business all the T’s were crossed, business cards, website, and social media accounts all in place before I even had a client. There’s not an inch of my body or mind that recognises me as ‘ditzy’.
Yet the other day I put the milk in the cupboard. I was 15 minutes late for a business meeting. I misplace things. And while my list making continues, it is, sadly, not with such glee. I’m starting to think I might have to reassess my view of myself.
And that’s a hard thing to do when you’re nearly 40. I’ve already had to do it once when, after lots of years of working, I became a Mum, so it’s not as if it’s a new concept. But I thought I’d nailed the multi-tasking after that, juggling a beautiful child and a successful voluntary sector PR business. Add into that two house moves, a renovation project and life was busy but, you know, isn’t everyone’s.
Then last year my body failed me for the second time. Five or so years previous, my overactive immune system had kicked my thyroid into touch, leaving me with hypothyroidism and dependant on daily medication. I also found myself with chronic fatigue, which came on around the same time as my thyroid diagnosis.
But throughout the summer of 2014, I developed a much different type of tiredness
I felt like a car without petrol. I had no energy and by the end couldn’t even cycle my bike up a small hill. I blamed it on my deficient thyroid, putting off going to the doctor. I was busy. But there was more. I had a thirst which just WOULD NOT be quenched. If peeing was an Olympic sport I’d have won a Gold for Scotland. I lost almost three stones in weight, which to me wasn’t something to complain about, but add to that the ghostly like paleness and sunken eyes and I look back to a very unhealthy, skinny, face. No wonder my Mum tells me she used to cry on her way home from seeing me.
The final straw thought was the black tongue. Kid you not, black as soot. The doctor actually said “euch” when she saw it.
The thirst was a give-away though, so I wasn’t massively surprised when the doctor said she was sorry to tell me that I had diabetes and needed to go straight to hospital. I was more concerned that I had work to do (was in the middle of PR for a lovely charity and trying to organise interviews with BBC Scotland) and what to do with Boy Child. It all seemed a horrible inconvenience.
I was however in denial. I was very sick and heading towards being quite ill (untreated high blood sugars can lead to coma and death). What had been an inconvenience (tubes from the four intravenous drips I was hooked up to were getting in the way of me typing emails in hospital) soon turned into a nightmare as I spent my first night in hospital, on a concoction of drips, including insulin, and in agony from nurses trying to find clean places to take blood from, my bony feet being one of them.
They started my Type One diabetes education the next day. Looking back now I’d never really comprehended what the doctor was saying. Slowly it started to sink in, finger pricking, at least five self-administered injections a day, monitoring food and activity. A Type 1 regime.
So, heralded my journey to becoming a new person.
It’s hugely frustrating for a perfectionist who likes order to have to learn to give into the constant changing world of Type 1 Diabetes; managing daily, often hourly fluctuations in blood sugars does not allow for perfection. It’s debilitating to be so tired from periods of regular hypos, (low blood sugar requiring urgent attention and instant glucose aka sugar to avoid loss of consciousness and ultimately death).
And it’s annoying to have to give up half your brain to monitoring glucose levels in order to stay alive, as put perfectly by fellow Type 1 Diabetic Riva Greenberg in her article for the Huffington Post. Reading this made me realise – it’s not a wonder I’m ditzy now.
I am trying – very hard – to be at ease with this new version of me and to find ways to better manage my blood sugars. This past year has been an uphill struggle at times. I’ve started meditating (something I’d never have thought I’d do), I’m focussing massively on diet (spending hours looking up no sugar, healthy recipes), and reading oodles about Type 1 Diabetes. I’ve even given up drink for #GoSober
And I never thought I’d be writing a blog. But I wanted to share my story, for anyone newly diagnosed, or who wants to know more about life after diagnosis, and look at the things which have helped, or are helping, me on my quest to become a stronger and healthier human being. Although I can’t guarantee my immune system won’t kill off another part of my body, I can give it the best chance it has. I hope you can take time for a cuppa and join me some of the way. Now where’s the milk…