Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lifelong Illnesses

In June 2016 my husband was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes after a few months of worrying side effects; he was bad tempered, losing weight quickly and looked sallow. There was no family history, as you know he's a boxer mad about his fitness, he doesn't smoke and only drinks occasionally and he eats clean. We we're told his diabetes had just happened. The function of his pancreas was not doing it's job of producing insulin to break down the sugars in his blood. He was told for the rest of his life he will test his sugar by pricking his finger, count carbs in his food to work out his insulin dosage, inject into his stomach or leg everytime he eats carbs and after all this could still risk having a sugar low (which can be extremely dangerous). This is life changing news. Also for me as I need to recognise when his sugars are low and act quickly, especially during the night which relies on him being able to wake me up while he is low as well as waking himself up.

The first thing that set in for my husband is why is this happening to him when he doesn't abuse his body and can he still box. He asked how he could beat it but was told it is not curable. For me it was can it be life threatening as I knew little about diabetes and wanted to know how can I help. It's a steep learning curve to get the insulin intake right, especially so that he can still box and not have constant lows at his work.

It's tough and for many people with a lifelong illness depression or anxiety can be common as well as the stresses and worries to face. Many people struggle with their medication, symptoms, treatment, pains and the changes to their life. But I want to tell you something that may be on your mind if you have a lifelong illness...

  • it's not your fault
  • make changes- if you do anything in your life that can worsen side effects or worsen your condition try your best to cut it out and ask your doctors for advice on a safe way to do this
  • there is nothing to be ashamed of
  • try not to compare- there are always people worse off than you and better off than you, everyone is individual and it's about looking after yourself not meeting other people's goals
  • know your stuff- find out as much as you can and work with your doctors- it can be hard to trust in something you don't yet understand
  • use the resources around you to their fullest- you are entitled to them
  • know your rights- can you claim a benefit that would help you? what does your workplace need to do? can you claim specialist equipment or a grant to modify your home? are you entitled to a carer or home help? you can speak to Citizens Advice and your medical team who will help you
  • update people- if someone is helping you they need to be as clued up as you do and your work colleagues, friends and people you live with need to know what to do in an emergency and how to help
  • don't give up on your dreams and hobbies- you might have to go about them a different way but if you can keep going then do, they'll keep you motivated
  • build a support network- whether it's friends, a charity, a helpline, a group you can attend gather a set of people who can help and advice
  • talk- tell someone how you feel if it gets hard
  • celebrate- when you get things right or start to manage, even the smallest thing, celebrate it
  • count your blessings- a silver lining with illnesses really Becky!? I say this because I filled with pride and admiration when my husband said to me "in a way my diabetes has helped me to learn more about food and my body" and he now wants to help others and possibly retrain to do this, if you can focus on something like this it makes things seem a little easier
  • believe- trust in your medical team, focus on your own goals, know you are loved
  • you are not a burden- the people who love you will still love you and want to help, let them in and let them know you appreciate what they do

My husband's message: "Don't let people tell you that you can't do things you love. When I was first diagnosed I wanted to beat it because I've never known how to quit anything. Just remember has Rocky said 'it's not how hard you can hit, it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward" :)

Much love,
Becky xx

If you need more information about Type 1 Diabetes please visit: NHS UK

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