Diabetes dropped into my life completely out of the blue nearly seven years ago when I was 32 and pregnant with my first child. It returned a couple of years later with my second pregnancy, and didn’t go away again after the birth. My doctors were surprised and sorry – I had no apparent risk factors. They could only blame it on genetics, despite there never having been anybody in my family known to have diabetes.
Becoming a stay-at-home mum to two young children was a dramatic enough change to my identity, but I also spent those years trying to come to terms with my diabetic status. I read heaps about diabetes and how I could manage it with diet and exercise. I made exercise a priority, ate low GI foods and eventually reduced even those. For a couple of years this was enough to provide excellent control but then my numbers began to slip and I was put on Metformin.
After a few months my HbAIC came back at around 10%. Horrified and scared, feeling like no matter how hard I tried my diabetes was uncontrollable, I did lots of reading and chanced across something called Late Onset Type 1 Diabetes (it has a few other names too). The descriptions sounded just like me, so I asked my endo about it and she agreed it was a possibility and ran some tests. Sure enough, they showed up antibodies indicating that my diabetes is an autoimmune problem more akin to traditional Type 1. Current thinking is that it has been triggered by a virus at some point. Strangely, this has given me an enormous sense of relief. While I do feel a bit unlucky, I no longer have the sense that I am an exception to every rule, which was a feeling that caused me a lot of fear and sleepless nights previously (because I got diabetes without apparent risk factors, then it didn’t go away after my pregnancies, then I couldn’t control it for long with diet & exercise, then Metformin didn’t seem to help…)
Now I understand my problem, it makes a certain amount of sense that I have it and I know how to treat it. I went onto insulin three months ago and will soon be getting a pump (a purple one!). I feel positive and motivated to deal with this curve ball that life has thrown at me. I don’t intend to let diabetes stop me doing anything I want to do, and I want be a positive example for my children just in case either of them ever faces this. I constantly find inspirational people in the media who are dealing with Type 1 and getting on with their lives and that is how I want to be too. For the first time in seven years diabetes has stopped being a monster menacing my peace of mind. It’s not top of the list of who I am anymore, and I totally believe it is onwards and upwards from here.