“Life is full of challenges…its how we overcome them that defines us as a person.”
Let me start by saying this journey isn’t going to be easy but… life isn’t easy. We are faced with obstacles everyday that challenge us to find solutions to our problems. Your car breaks down when you’re late for work and you’ve got an important meeting with your boss, you get distracted and forget the iron is burning a hole through your favourite shirt or the worst one…you wake up to find your phone charger wasn’t plugged in properly and you’ve got 3% battery! What I’m trying to get at here is that life is full of challenges, big or small, but its how we overcome them defines us as a person.
When I was 21 I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic. Now I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but I see that as a pretty big challenge to overcome! Skip forward almost 4 years to the present time and I’m in the best shape I have EVER been. Let me give you a little bit of background. I was never the most athletic kid in school (ok I was far from it…I was very unfit!) and I used to do very little exercise. Fast forward to the age of 18 and I had just started my degree at university. A local gym was offering a great deal for new students and I decided I was going to join so I could get some muscles! I had three great years of teaching myself the basics of weightlifting and nutrition via the power of the internet and a little help from gym buddies I made along the way.
2012 comes around and I’ve just completed my degree. Im back in my hometown and I had just started working a new job. The job was quite physical so for the first few weeks I didn’t think too much about the weight I was losing, the feeling of being thirsty constantly, the countless trips to the toilet…you see where this is going right? For all my Type 1’s reading this I’m sure you’ve got a pretty good idea! So this continued for a few more weeks and I realised maybe something was wrong. After a quick search on google and reading about these common symptoms for Type 1 Diabetes I got myself checked out.
I was originally told by a nurse at my local walk-in centre that I was just experiencing dehydration from the spell of very uncommon British hot weather we were having and was sent on my way. Still to this day I cant understand how after everything I told her she didn’t even do a simple blood glucose test. Its honestly unforgivable. 2 weeks pass and if anything I’m feeling even worse. Waking up multiple times in the night absolutely gasping for water. Feeling dizzy. Vision becoming slightly blurry at times. I ended up booking an appointment with my doctor and had an appointment late in the afternoon. I still at this point was unsure as to what was happening so had continued to eat normally. I arrived for my appointment and after explaining my symptoms she went straight for the blood glucose monitor.
The strip goes into the machine, she pins my finger down and pricks it with the lancet. The blood goes into the machine and it counts down from 3. A number appears on the screen and i look at her face for a reaction. Obviously at this point all these numbers meant nothing to me. She looked confused. She said – “That cant be right, this machine must be broken. Im going to do it again with another one”. She repeated the process and the result came back the same, if anything slightly higher than before. It wasn’t a faulty machine…my blood glucose was really that high. 36mmol/L (648mg/dL) to be precise. She immediately tested for ketones and miraculously i had none. She got in contact with my local hospital and told them I was on my way. She wished me good luck and told me to get there as soon as I could.
I laid in the hospital bed, still not exactly sure what was happening, and had my blood taken whilst a nurse hooked me up to a drip. A short while later a young junior doctor came over and pulled the curtain shut. He introduced himself, told me what the blood tests results had shown and then proceeded to say – “Im sorry to inform you Mr. Perkins but unfortunately i believe you are Type 1 Diabetic”. I still remember that day very clearly and I’m sure I probably will for the rest of my life. As I had gone in late on a Friday afternoon unfortunately I had to stay at the hospital until the following Monday when the diabetic specialists would be back in to see me. I was put into a diabetic ward and I honestly believe this is one of the best things that could’ve happened to me.
In the bed next to me was a 40 year old man. He was very over weight and seemed quite unwell. I got chatting to him and explained my situation and we had one of the scariest conversations I think I’ve ever had. In short, he told me not to become him. He was diagnosed slightly younger than me, around the age of 15. He said he refused to accept what had happened, he just wanted to be normal like the rest of his friends. For many years he ate how he wanted, never checked his BG levels, skipped injections and generally lived a very unhealthy life full of alcohol, smoking and binge eating. He had multiple cataract operations in both eyes, his kidneys were on the way out, he had issues with his heart and had lost the feeling in both legs from the knee down. All in all he was in a pretty bad way and it gave me a serious kick up the backside. It was at that moment I told myself…ok, I’m in a bad situation, I’ve got this huge challenge and it isn’t going to be easy but I can do this.
The next 6 months certainly were not easy. You have a lot to juggle and sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. The honeymoon period, the dawn phenomenon, the accidental hypos at 3am from a mis calculated injection. I was offered a place on a DAFNE course and I would definitely recommend this if its available for you. Although some advice given I believe is quite outdated and fitted to a “standard” lifestyle (not one of someone heavily involved in fitness and weight training) it definitely gives you confidence in managing your situation and it was so helpful being able to speak to other newly diagnosed and long term diabetics.
Skip forward almost 4 years and I’m the healthiest i have ever been. My cholesterol is low (around 3.2) my HbA1c is below 6% and i feel like I’m in a great place with my diabetes. Over the next few months i will be sharing with you how I got myself here through this blog and all the hints and tips that will help you along the way. I’ve got workout advice, some tasty low carb recipes and all the rest that comes with being the best version of yourself! Please feel free to contact me on my social media accounts if you have any questions you would like answering directly. I would love nothing more than to share my knowledge if it means I can improve your life.
If you made it this far without falling asleep on your keyboard then thank you for reading!
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