Want to try the FreeStyle Libre System? Get a 14 day sensor for free.

New customers only. Conditions apply. Try for free

Your cart is empty

Type 1 Times 2

Diabetes – No Longer Just a Side Dish In My Life

By Reepzy, diabetes tech advocate living with Type 1.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional about your diabetes management. Individual symptoms, situations and circumstances may vary.

15/12/2021

At 23 years old I was given a present that would last a lifetime. Type 1 diabetes.

Being an outgoing and active young man in my early twenties, Type 1 diabetes didn’t mean anything to me, it wasn’t something that I had heard of, and the severity of the diagnosis didn’t even occur to me at the time.

A strong suspicion

After several months of fatigue, losing weight and excessive thirst with a specific craving for orange flavoured energy drinks, the symptom that prompted a visit to a walk-in clinic was a reduction in the responsiveness of my hands.

I admitted to the doctor that I had done some research online and all the signs pointed towards diabetes. This was initially laughed at. I was told that the internet is not a place to self-diagnose. A check of my blood glucose level indicated 31mmol/L, the tone changed, and I was sent directly to A&E.

In denial

I was young, wanted to live my life like all my people around me who were my age and still didn’t get why this diagnosis seemed so upsetting to my family. Regardless I followed medical advice and started to inject at mealtimes. I found that I was having frequent hypos, so I used this as a reason to disregard my medication.

For the rest of my twenties, I approached my diabetes like a part-time job, like a side dish in my life only injecting a little when I felt I needed it. I hid it from the world and didn’t tell employers or sports clubs I was part of. I would do the bare minimum just to not become ill. No appointments. No glucose checks. Nothing.

The turning point

It took a complication to develop before I got my act together and finally took my Type 1 seriously. Neuropathy.  This was now starting to impact my life and stop me from doing things I loved. I was in pain man! I needed to do something.

With the support of a new medical team and my beautiful fiancée, I was able to recognise the gravity of the “gift” I was given back at the age of 23. I was able to take a positive approach to medicate myself which provided me with confidence.

A huge hurdle for me was testing my glucose levels. I was often travelling for my work in the Youth Justice sector, visiting a range of settings including prisons. Getting clearance to enter with equipment was difficult.

In addition, my neuropathy made finger prick testing painful. Due to this my control wasn’t great until I discovered the FreeStyle Libre system. Being a tech head, this immediately appealed to me, and I began to self-fund.

Help and insights from diabetes tech

My medical team saw a huge improvement in my overall HbA1c, and I told them it was because of the impact the device was having on my life. I was able to test more, incorporating testing at work was easy and gave me visuals on how I was coping with my diabetesφ.

I was then provided with the FreeStyle Libre system on prescription which was life-changing. Not just for myself but for many others that I have met.

I continue to show an interest in diabetes tech and the recent news that CGMs and Flash monitors might now be available to all Type 1s in the UK on the NHS is huge and something that means so much to so many1.

Mutual support

Through social media, I have discovered an online community who offered support and help, and it was so amazing that I became part of it.

I have also joined TDFC, a futsal team entirely represented by people living with Type 1. TDFC isn’t just about the futsal, it’s also about encouragement, friendship and connecting people with diabetes from all over the UK!

I post on my social media on a regular basis about my Type 1 and have launched a podcast called T1DiaBeater, to continue to advocate, educate and change the face of diabetes.

I want to show people that living life with diabetes doesn’t have to be a restriction, it doesn’t have to hold you back and I want to highlight and promote the amazing achievements and lives that we all continue to live whilst also incorporating Type 1.

A final message from me… Keep DiaBeating!

Reepzy lives with Type 1 diabetes. He works in the Youth Justice sector and you can follow him and listen to his podcasts @reepzy on Instagram.

Reepzy received a fee to write this blog. All opinions are his own.

References and Disclaimers

Φ For a complete glycaemic picture, scan once every 8 hours.

1 Diabetes UK (2021). https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/nice-draft-guidelines-recommend-wider-use-for-flash-and-cgm

ADC-57753 v1.0 05/2022

 

Type 1 Times 2