By Sarah Bolger, Financial Advocate for Dosh
This year, 2021, marks 100 years of insulin. In 1921 Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully managed to isolate the hormone insulin. Within a year people suffering from this fatal disease were being treated and the previous death sentence of usually no more than 2 years became decades. They sold the Patent to the University of Toronto in 1923 for $1 each so that as many people as possible could be saved.
Roll forward 100 years and scientists are now investigating the link between Covid 19 and the increase in children being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes since the beginning of the pandemic. The cause of Type 1 is unknown, but it is believed that Virus’ play a role. We believe that Charlies autoimmune system may have been overstimulated by Norovirus which landed him in hospital a couple of years before diagnosis, but we don’t know that for certain
The discovery of insulin saves my Sons life every day.
Before I was the Mum of a Type 1 Diabetic, I was just a Mum. .
Then T1D came into our lives and all of that changed. Now don’t get me wrong. If I could click my fingers and Charlie didn’t have this chronic health condition, I would in a heartbeat, but he does, and I can’t. So, here’s where we had the choice. We could let this thing overwhelm us and affect our lives forever or we could choose to see the positives in it and that is the choice we made.
When your Child is diagnosed you leave the hospital with lots of glossy brochures and a handful of emergency numbers. You read the blurb and it can scare you to death with talk of complications such as kidney failure, blindness, Heart attack, stroke, amputation, and depression. These are all very real risks if not managed correctly but for us we made the choice to spin the scare factor for Charlie and embrace the positives. The brochures don’t tell you about the tiny pink scars which are all over his stomach and arms from pump changes and the lumps where insulin builds up under the skin. They don’t tell you about the blood all over pyjama sleeves where you knock and dislodge the cannulas in the night. Balancing these downsides with the positives when we can as often as we can is the way we cope as a family.
These are the ways that T1D has moulded Charlie and made him the person he is today. He knows he is different and unique. He accepts and embraces it.
Charlie has spent the last 8 years having conversations with healthcare professionals and having them listen to him and respect his words and his opinion. He is quite capable of calmly explaining and educating people who say, “ooh you can’t eat that can you” or “did you eat too may sweets when you were younger to get diabetes”.
Years of having to calculate how much carbohydrate is in everything that he eats, and drinks has turned him into a maths whizz. He could do calculations in his head at 10 much quicker than I ever could.
Charlie knows there are things beyond our control and he just accepts that. He knows he can’t just go out with his friends without making sure he has his blood glucose meter and sugar tablets and phone with him. He knows that he can’t just sleep over at a friends without a training session for the parents about emergency measures. He also knows that some friends won’t have him over at all as its just too much responsibility for some. He knows he has to take his exams in a separate room to his friends not in the main hall so that he can hear his alarms and the exam clock can be stopped while he adjusts his levels. We have always told him he can do anything he wants in life, but he just needs to plan a little better than the next person.
He knows he needs to keep fit and healthy as this helps keep his blood sugars stable. Charlie plays ball hockey and has played abroad representing GB and he also coaches an under 10 team once a week. He also knows he has a Mum with a Mary Poppins style bag with a constant supply of Haribo’s, jelly babies and sugar tablets. A sweet for every occasion and he knows how to use them..
He knows he has to stand up for himself and say what he needs for his condition and has learned to do so over the years but that has grown his confidence. Charlie is now 15 and he recently saw a job advert on Facebook for our local pub. “I think I will pop in and see them” he said as he toddled off down the road. That was two months ago and now he works front of house for them a couple of shifts a week. He is so calm and confident. I wish I had been like that aged 15!!
He has had to grow up quickly and realise the implications of his actions on his condition. It also means though that he seems more mature than other 15-year-olds and has actually mentored newly diagnosed children with Type 1. When he was newly diagnosed, he gave a talk in school about his condition. When he showed his friends his pump and CGM they thought he was bionic!!
You try deciding on a whim you want a slice of pizza, then having to calculate the carbohydrate in it, give your insulin and then wait 15 minutes for the insulin to start to work.!! Also, when we go on holiday, we are always that family in front of you that have to unload the medical bag into about three of those trays at immigration and can’t go through the scanners so have to be patted down and swabbed!!
We have a celebration on the anniversary of his diagnosis every year – his Diaversary!! We celebrate how well he copes each year and how proud we are of him. We have cake!!!! He thanks me every morning when he sees how many times, we have been up in the night to correct his blood sugars. He also realises how lucky he is to have life saving technology such as his continuous glucose monitor and tubeless insulin pump. Not everyone has access to these. For me, I get to see the most beautiful sunrises most mornings on my way back to my bedroom from his.
There are many other attributes I could talk about such as Flexibility, resilience, mental strength, empathy, planning skills, multitasking, and coping with disappointment but I would bore you all silly.
We very rarely get Charlie’s blood sugars in range for a full 24 hours , in fact I can’t remember if we ever have, but we do our best. We focus on the LIFE in Life with diabetes. Its not easy but we always try to stay positive and have fun. In fact, if you ask Charlie, he will say we are a bit of a mad family
This month, Diabetes awareness month, be aware of the signs in your Child. The link below shows what you need to look for. Type 1 Diabetes is a life-threatening condition if left undiagnosed. Go straight to your GP and insist on a blood glucose test. The symptoms can sometimes look like other less serious conditions so trust your gut if your child displays the tell-tale symptoms.