Wednesday, 23 May 2012


When you are a person with diabetes - particularly one who talks like an AK47, mostly about diabetes -  it's pretty normal to run into a few questions here and there:

'How do you control it?' 'When were you diagnosed?' Or, everyone's personal favourite, 'Are you allowed that?' Most of us in the diabetic community, online or otherwise, have the answers which have stood the test of time in a special 'diabetic FAQ' file in our heads.

"I use an insulin pump". "25 years ago when I was four." and "Yes I freakin' well am!"

But this weekend was different. As I boarded my train to the Input Insulin Pump roadshow, my best friend called me.

"Anna, what do I do if a friend who stayed at my house last night just told me they are diabetic, but don't have their testing kit or insulin?"


As I unravelled the story and discovered that despite my friends attempts to get to a pharmacy to buy some hypodermics, some insulin and a testing kit, her sofa-surfing stowaway was protesting that he was 'just fine'. Of course, having been without any insulin for about 16 hours, and having been drinking the night before the chances he really was fine, were slim.

"He reminds me of you when you were 17."

Of course, I never skipped insulin and I would always tell people I was diabetic, but despite my initial shrugging off that we were anything alike, a flood of feelings came rolling in that left me thinking about this guy, how he felt and why he didn't tell my friend about his condition.

I hated diabetes too. I didnt want to be different, either.

Maybe we were alike. Maybe I was like that.

It's very easy to shake heads and wag fingers at people who do this kind of stuff. How can they? Why would they? But it left me thinking about my own journey. From somewhere on that wavelength, where blood tests were a pain in the backside and injecting was something that separated me from others -  a burden, a punishment - to a place where insulin pumps bring us together and our story is something to share; something that unites us.

My friend knows that just as soon as he is ready, she can give him my number. I will always talk. I will always listen. And when everyone is wagging their finger and playing the blame game, I will remind them that I too walked that path; mine was littered with fear, contempt, anger and isolation.

My pump, and the subsequent introduction to a diabetic community millions strong, brought about my eventual acceptance of the life I would lead and heartfelt gratitude for what you all would bring me.

I hope he too finds that way. Be it now, or tomorrow.

It is never too late.


  1. Anna. This is exactly how I think my son must feel. I checked his Timsulin device earlier and, to my horror, have found that the last time he injected his Lantus was in excess of 35 hours ago!! His excuse? He didn't know where it was!! No matter what I, family members or his diabetes team do, nothing seems to work in getting him to look after himself. He is nearly 19 now and he frightens the life out of me because he just doesnt seem to know nor care what this ignorance will end up doing to him. I so wish he would talk, but he doesn't. I'm sure he could draw inspiration from your journey.... xxx

  2. Great, heartfelt write-up, Anna. I can identify with you. I know that threats of what the future might hold didn't "reach" me at all.

    I think someone needs to reach Sofa-Surfer in the now. Maybe Joe Solo's "poor me" days would help - he pre-arranges one day every now-and-then when he does everything wrong, eats badly, tests minimally and allows himself to feel self-pity. He arranges for a few select friends to phone/text/facebook him to tell him how much they admire his ability to cope etc etc. And at the end of this day he picks himself up and carries on, back on track and feeling satisfied that its ok to have a mini-rebellion as long as he bounces back. Joe is a pump user though - so he doesn't miss insulin and doesn't need to stick a needle through his skin.

    Maybe Kerry Sparling's "I have to live with it but I don't have to like it" attitude would help him - admitting that he hates doing the stuff, counting the carbs, pricking his fingers, exercising "control" but acknowledging that he still has to do it (much like paying taxes). Sometimes people just need to give themselves permission to be real like that.

  3. Sarah, thanks for posting. It sounds like your son and I had a lot in common. I can't describe how it feels; I was one of the angry ones. I didn't deserve it etc etc, but something just changed one day. I think it was Uni. I knew I wanted to go and that feeling ill all day and not being able to enjoy it would come down to blood sugars. It just made me pay more attention and although it was a long journey and one I still mess up now and then, it just started being a bigger part of my life. If your son ever wants to talk to someone, someone who isn't too close, feel free to pass on my details. And if YOU ever need to talk, the same applies. Also, if your son wants to be able to just get on with life, maybe a pump (there are some VERY fashionable ones out now) is the way to go. Even if he can't be bothered to take insulin, the pump would do it for him keeping him, at the very least, safe. x

    Lelsey, I think you're right; it's about having to deal with it but not exactly loving the idea. No we didn't ask for it, but it is still our responsibility to deal with it, crap as that may be. And having to deal with it is all the more easy when you don't feel like your muscles weigh a tonne and your head is in a fog! I don't look after myself because I love the feeling of wearing a pump or monitoring blood sugars. I do it because I feel awful if I don't and life is easier in so many ways. The hardest time to have to deal with bad blood sugars is when you have bad blood sugars x