Diagnosed at age 6, in 1998 I feel that I have been lucky to essentially have always had diabetes for the majority of my conscious memory – and as such I can appreciate that for those who are diagnosed later in life managing diabetes may not come so easily or as natural.
I was brought up with the firm message from my family that diabetes had to be managed, but more importantly it had to fit around my lifestyle. From the get go I was empowered with the knowledge and understanding of my condition so that whilst it would be an obstacle in my life and something I had to think about and consider, it would never be something I couldn’t overcome. I was told from a very early age that having diabetes wouldn’t stop be from doing the things I love or becoming the things I aspired to become. I think this was a very important message to learn, however I think it’s one that we can all learn and at any age.
Having said all this, I think perhaps it was this message that perhaps also lead to my downfall…
On December 23rd 2016 I was rushed into hospital, blue lighted in an ambulance after my housemate had found me very unwell. This episode actually began some 48 hours beforehand with a bout a food poisoning which quickly developed into DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis).
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.
The condition develops when your body does not have a sufficient supply of insulin. Insulin normally plays a key role in helping sugar (glucose) — a major source of energy for your muscles and other tissues — enter your cells. Without enough insulin, your body begins to break down fat as fuel. This process produces a buildup of acids in the bloodstream called ketones, eventually leading to diabetic ketoacidosis if untreated.
If you have diabetes then I please urge you to visit the NHS website here to learn the early warning signs and symtoms of diabetic ketoacidosis — and know when to seek emergency care.
However in my stubbornness I felt I could manage it as I regularly do when I get unwell. But when my breathing became compromised and my housemate could hear my grunting with each breath from the next room, he had no choice but to intervene, calling 999 immediately as I drifted in and out of consciousness.
Through excessive coughing and vomiting over the previous 48 hours, I had ruptured my oesophagus. By the time my parents had made it to hospital to see me, I had lost around a litre of blood and the surgeons were scrubbing up. It amazes me still how quickly I went from feeling a little unwell and heading to bed to literally being on my death bed in resus.
As I went for a final CT scan before my emergency surgery my family were told to expect the worse. No no that Christmas would be missed this year – that was a given at this point – but that at the very best case we would be looking at a minimum of 6 weeks in hospital post surgery.
However, Christmas miracles do come in all shapes and sizes. The CT showed something remarkable that nobody could believe, scar tissue showing healing already in the oesophageal tract… 5 days later (two of which in the High Dependancy Unit of intensive care) and I was up and out of bed working again at my bedside table on my laptop, and 5 days after this I was released from hospital having made a “miraculous recovery”. Even the medical professionals couldn’t believe what a turn around I had made, and there was reluctancy to discharge me as I “shouldn’t be this well so soon”.
One month on… Come the start of February it was as if nothing had ever happened, and I even got back on my beloved bike. I had always been a keen cyclist and family and friends will vouch for the fact that I would have thought nothing of a 100km ride out for lunch and back before heading of the work that evening. I live for cycling, so getting back on my bike was a hugely emotional and symbolic step for me.
However over the next few weeks I quickly noticed that all was not as well as well as it had first seemed. My body was battered and bruised in every way. My weight had dropped with muscle atrophy so I had little strength, my cardiovascular fitness was non-existent and soon I began to notice a whole heap of other symptoms develop as I began to try and return to normal life.
I never realised how quickly I could lose my health, my independence and freedom. I had listened for years to consultants, nurses and GPs talk about the consequences that poor control of my diabetes could have, however I always felt like I’d see it coming. I was hit by all these at once without any warning signs and that’s been really scary. To see my seemingly indestructible fit and healthy body wasting away in front of my own eyes and not be able to stop it has been upsetting for myself, but also my family and friends around me.
First things first I have to progress on my long road to recovery. However my goals are not just personal achievements now, I have 3 targets in mind…
…I can’t sit by and watch others go through this without sharing my story
…help other type 1 & insulin dependent diabetics take better control of their diabetes.
…raise funds for diabetes related charities and organisation to help them with their research and education programs too
Here are some of the events that personally I am taking part in, however you can use the button below to view all events associated with Diabeat-This.com and our users…