Diabetes for a day

18 Nov 2014 4min read

“What are you doing dad?” asks my 12 year old son over his breakfast.

“Injecting myself with insulin – I’ve got type 1 diabetes.”

He looks quizzical. I’ve never done this before and what I’m holding in my hand is clearly a red Sharpie pen. Then he asks, “Is that the kind that kills you?”

I’m glad he’s aware of how serious the disease is, but don’t want him to worry so I explain that I’m only pretending. It’s World Diabetes Day, and somebody who really has got the disease is going to text me over 24 hours, telling me to ‘test my blood glucose levels’ (red spot on the finger) and also when to ‘inject’ (red spot on the arm). I’ll also be told whether I should eat or drink and, based on the text I’d already received, give me an idea as to how I might be feeling.

And during my day at work that’s exactly what happens. I find that I’m testing and injecting much more frequently than I thought I would be, and also getting a tiny insight into how much the disease must dominate your life. My ’bg’ runs high throughout the morning, despite a number of injections, so I need to delay lunch. I’m allowed to eat eventually, but only if I inject again. Now I just feel worse – like I have the flu – and need to inject again. “You feel like a human pincushion”. “You’re finding it hard to concentrate.” “You just want to cry.” Then some good news; my ‘bg’ drops and I can have a biscuit, so I don’t “crash.”

Colleagues find it a bit odd that I have seven red dots on my arm and, when I inject in a meeting I’m asked if the marker is “permanent”? I nearly answer yes but then realise – of course – that it isn’t at all.

Diabetes for a day

Friday evening is fairly uneventful, thankfully, and I wonder if I’m done. Late on though I’m told that my ‘bg’ is low now so I should have approximately 100ml of Lucozade. I confess that that’s not what I was drinking, but I do have a little more. At three in the morning I get a message that I’m a bit high again so should do one more injection and “hope for a better day tomorrow.”

Saturday is, unsurprisingly, a much better day. I make a donation to the JDRF and send Eleanor a message of thanks and best wishes… then I’m out and about – pen free – at the footy, eating lunch late before dashing into town, sneaking a free cookie at the sofa store, chucking a rugby ball around in the garden as it’s getting dark, and finally settling down for a drink or two and too much food. The red spots on my fingers have worn off; those on my arm are still there, but I can’t feel them. I’m thinking that I’m very lucky to have only been diabetic for a day.

To find out more about Eleanor’s challenge, and how to donate, please go to www.justgiving.com/eleanor-harpum/

One in twelve people have diabetes and in 2014 it will kill 4.9 million people. To find out more about the disease, and its global implications, this is a good place to start: www.idf.org/diabetesatlas

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