It was a sunny day. After months of physical and emotional upheaval, I was indeed ‘up for learning about my new normal’; infact I was ready to embrace anything that might help put both my blood sugars and my being on an even keel. Starting to accept Christina V.3 was paying dividends in positivity. It was a shame it wasn’t paying out in better blood sugars. This was going to change though. Today. Right now. My diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) had repeatedly told me cue *jazz hands*, that this course, this week, was “going to change my life”. Right here, right now, to quote a famous song.
I was keen but I was also a little skeptical. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe her. It was just that after hours and hours, month after month, spent with the DSN and the dietician, pouring over food diaries, making changes to insulin, learning (often the hard way) about the affect of carbs on your body, the resulting hypos and hypers, what it meant to split a dose, etc, etc, you know the story if you’ve read this blog so far, I wondered what else I could possibly learn. What didn’t I know about carb counting already, I wondered, as I parked the car up in the hospital car park.
I laugh now at my naivety. After four and a half intense days, I packed up after our last session with a notepad full of scribblings, a hefty handout book, and some new Type One friends, and drove home through sunshine so wide it seemed bigger than the sky and I cried. I sobbed so much I had to park the car until I had stopped.
Why? Because for the first time since I was admitted to hospital, swiftly hooked up to drips and delivered both insulin and the news that I was now a Type 1 diabetic, I had hope. Injecting every day with insulin to keep me alive had felt like an unknown, the blood sugar diaries at times just a page of swimming numbers, and I was awash with questions all the time. I must have driven the medical staff daft with notepads, and list of numbered queries reaching down an A4 page, like an explorer seeking a lost jungle he knows is there but he can’t find. What does this do? How does that work? Why do meatballs cause me to be high at 3am in the morning? Why did taking insulin for this pudding not work? Why did I have a hypo in the supermarket and have to call my husband to come rescue me and the little one? Why me? WHY!!!!
Instead I felt injected with hope for the future. We all need hope; it’s what keeps us going. My education course, along with other things I had introduced to my life, were helping me find a new path; it was a turning point. Without hope we stop believing and we stop living. People had said to me that my life would become mine again but I didn’t believe them, during the worst periods of early morning hypos and the resulting sleep-deprivation, the physical sickness and fatigue, all I could see was a dimly lit future. Now it seemed as bright as the Edinburgh sunshine splitting the skies overhead. I smiled and drove home.
The Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating (DAFNE) course should be offered to every Type 1 diabetic. Diabetes education helps to teach those suffering from Type One how to try to better ‘manage’ (not control) their blood sugars, in order to try to live the life they want. Diabetes will never go away, nor will those of us with a defective pancreatic function ever not need insulin but sending Type One’s like me on an education course helps them to understand what they live with every hour of every day, understand what they can do to help themselves (diet, best use insulin, correcting blood sugars, what to do on Sick Days). It helps them to become their own Diabetes Specialist Nurse, ultimately reducing the cost to the NHS. Diabetes UK has launched a new campaign Taking Control #takingcontrol and you can support their call for everyone to get the education they need to ensure they can take the reins. Sign up here > www.diabetes.org.uk/Taking-Control