When you’ve lived with diabetes as long as I have, it’s almost impossible to imagine what life is like without that constant round of tests, injections and mild anxiety around food as you eat something and hope it doesn’t result in postprandial blood sugar levels that are too high or too low.
Today, I read about people’s experiences of research or new procedures they’d taken part in. One woman wore the artificial pancreas when she was pregnant. Giving it back afterwards was, she said, “like losing a limb”. Another person received islet stem cells transplant because he couldn’t recognise hypo symptoms and was able to come off insulin altogether, although he did have to go back on small amounts four months later.
So, Emma B, I said to myself, say you woke up tomorrow without type 1 diabetes what would be the best thing about it. And is there anything you would miss?
The main point that would strike me would be the energy. Imagine living with levels of energy that remain more or less constant. To the non-diabetics out there, please make the most of it this on my behalf. You have no idea how brilliant it is. I get days here and there when the energy is constant, and blimey you could put me in charge of Brexit and I’d sort it out… But some of those other days are tedious. Tiredness makes you grumpy and makes every task far more difficult, meaning you have to invest in willpower (a finite thing) for trivial rubbish.
It’s hard to over-estimate the impact that one single thing would make. Perhaps I’d turn into an extrovert. Tiredness often makes conversation an effort. Or I’d enter a full marathon instead of a half. My freelance copywriting business might take off because I’d be able to do far more work every day AND I’d be an excellent net-worker and pitcher, thanks to the whirling fizz running through my veins.
I’d also relish sitting down to meals without having to do blood tests and injections first. Oh the bliss of pulling up a plate without eyeballing its contents and doing all the calculations in your head—right, so that’s about 15g of carbs (I think), my blood sugar is a little raised so I need to factor that in, but I’m going for a walk afterwards so include 30 minutes of exercise, maybe allow for an hour because I’m going up that big hill… etc., etc.
I might never go near a doctor’s surgery again. A silly thing, I know, but we sugar shunners spend a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms, often wondering why the magazine collection is so rubbish and why all the posters on the wall are so out of date. There’s the clinics, the retinal screening and all the other appointments associated with diabetes. Not going along to any of them ever again would be a joy.
My abdomen would say an almighty big ‘thank-you’ for not getting stabbed seven or eight times a day. Granted, the needles we have these days are tiny (I use a 4mm version), but occasionally I hit a nerve and it HURTS. Ditto my fingers. As one of our regular readers said, doctors can always tell the folks who are conscientious about blood tests as they were the ones with tiny black marks all over their finger tips.
Pizza and chips anyone?
Would I dive into plates of chips, 15-inch pizzas and cakes and sweets? Probably not. I’m used to eating in a certain way, and I believe it’s healthy for most people, not just those with diabetes. I do eat chocolate and pizza from time to time because life’s too short to eat low-carb all the time.
And now for the things I would miss… wait for it…
Nothing? Diabetes doesn’t need to be dreadful. A sensible low-carb eating plan and a bit of exercise can work wonders. And it’s not the worst chronic health condition you can have, but honestly, truly and seriously I do not think there are any type 1s out there who wouldn’t say “goodbye” to diabetes without a backward glance.