Today, I am so pleased to have Jane Reid guest blog for me. I’ve never met Jane in real life (I hope to one day!), but we are friends on Facebook and seem to have very similar interests. We share a lot of posts about books, libraries, grammar and punctuation. Jane often posts really thoughtful and honest comments to my blog posts and I am always so interested to hear her opinion and experiences. Thanks for sharing today, Jane.
I have lived with T1 for 50 years – well, almost, but who’s counting?
It seems like a long time, but it has whizzed by. From diagnosis, (diabetic ketoacidosis and coma), to now, (pump, some hypo unawareness and some complications), I have lived it all with the help of my parents, my friends, my HCPs, and most of all, my husband who has put up with nearly 43 years of type 1. He told me yesterday that any sort of illness or set back that affects one of us is OUR problem. That is true love.
For the first few years I lived through what I call the ‘dark ages’. Glass syringes, horrible, large needles that went blunt quickly and testing (if you can call it that) with tablets dropped into a mixture of urine and water. If the result was blue, you were probably hypo; if the result was orange-brown you were high. My first specialist-physician (did they even have endos in 1965?) did me the greatest favour he could have. He told me that I would be the person who knew most about my diabetes, and he was correct. Thank you, Tom Robertson!
When I look back, I now realise that I had gastroparesis from quite early on, although it was only diagnosed ten years ago. Maybe I just didn’t want to know at that time, and I certainly never told any HCPs. I could probably have saved myself a lot of grief if I had.
The complication I really feared was retinopathy. I am a voracious reader, and I had heard gruesome tales of people going blind. Well, it wasn’t as bad as that, and it took over twenty years to develop. The treatment was worse than the fear, and the waiting around to see the ophthalmologist was worse than the treatment. I was treated by an ophthalmologist whom I can only describe as arrogant, and patronising. He did, however, save the majority of my sight, although I have almost no peripheral vision and can no longer drive.
I have had no treatment for over twenty years, so I guess he knew what he was doing. Losing my driving licence was the worst thing for me, although it was not until ten years ago. It has, to a certain extent, taken away my autonomy and independence, although every time I get into the car I know why I no longer drive. Believe me; everyone else on the road is safer because I’m not behind the wheel!
My latest complication is diabetic nephropathy (CKD). I was, to put it mildly, surprised and depressed when I found out. Luckily, the specialist I was sent to in the ACT, put me at ease, told me all about it, and arranged for a kidney biopsy. That showed that the disease was not nearly as bad as first thought, and was only at the very first stage. His comment to me was ‘I’m the same age as you, and I’ll look after you for the next seven years, and then I’ll hand you onto someone else when I retire’. That was reassuring!
I’d prefer not to have type 1 diabetes, but I can live with it. I’ve found out that I can live with complications; sure, I’d prefer not to, but they just become part of life. The worry and the fear are worse than the reality. I just do the best I can. None of us can do more than that.
Jane Reid is a proud member of the Newcastle Knights Rugby League Club and early next year will be eligible to receive a Kellion Medal for living with type 1 diabetes for 50 years – congratulations Jane!