Living with diabetes #DiabetesMonth

I remember back in 1989 my husband, Steve, asking my mum if it was okay to propose to me. He's awfully sweet like that (looks pointedly at any boyfriend of Briony's) and it made my mum's year... LOL... Of course she said yes, if you've met Steve (and I know a lot of you have in GRL and Munich) then you'll know he's a pretty cool guy.

She only had one concern (well, apart from the fact he wasn't a millionaire, which I think she'd been holding out for) and that was the fact he was a type 1 diabetic (diagnosed as a teenager, his pancreas had just died :( ).

We didn't know a lot about diabetes in our family. MS yes, cancer yes, heart attack, yes, asthma, yes... but no diabetes. We also didn't have the Internet and to us diabetes was as exotic (and as scary) as a tropical disease.

So, to cut a long story short we married in August '92, and there I was, married to a type 1 diabetic. There were hypos, there were hypers, there were emergencies with insulin, but in the 26 years we've been together Steve has only been hospitalised once, so the dramatic stuff hasn't been the kind to have him in hospital, it's been the smaller problems that have dogged him. Insulin that doesn't work, old style needles he used to use way back that stuck, sickness bugs that throw his control off, a few eyesight issues. But he is also a runner, and is fit and healthy, and diabetes is as much a part of our lives as autism is now.

He injects several times a day, tests his sugar more than that, and he's found creative ways around what he can and can't eat. Luckily he doesn't have a sweet tooth anyway, but he does love crisps (chips for the Americans among us!).

He's recently changed his diet. He read a book about small injections, small carbs, etc, and is a different man.

He's going more or less carb free, and as such his injections are smaller, which means less swings, and no more high readings before bed because he was scared of hypoing.

And hypo's, wow, let me tell you, as an outsider they are fucking scary as shit. They can be funny as well because sometimes a hypo just makes you seem drunk (next time you see him, ask him about the naked sock incident), then others make you go grey and shaky and so damn low and depressed it's hard for Steve to imagine there is a way out the other side.

Diabetes has changed his world. He wanted to be a farmer, but that was never going to happen, and instead he found computers, he worked in the financial district in London, commuting four hours a day, he supported the IT for an old investment bank, and he managed all of this while diabetic. He's a very strong person although he never sees that in himself.

I didn't realise that November was diabetes month, perhaps I am more caught up in Autism month (April) to think about diabetes. After all, diabetes is something everyone knows about. Right?

I couldn't be more wrong. Seems like the emergence of so much type 2 diabetes (often late onset, where the body is becoming immune to insulin, often age and weight related), means there is a lot of crap floating around about diabetes. The social awareness is that overweight = diabetes, and I think Steve finds that concept hard to swallow. Every article on obesity uses the word diabetes somewhere and this connection is insinuating its way into public consciousness.

Anyway, if you've read this and want to know more about diabetes then there are a million websites with the facts. But if you want to know more about living with diabetes itself, then you should ask Steve, or someone like him.

What is diabetes? from Diabetes UK


  1. Love this post so hard. Type 1 Diabetes is such a hard thing to live with and it affects the whole family. It's so frustrating when time and time again it's linked with Type 2/sugar/obesity. I love reading about adults with Type 1 as it gives me hope for my Type 1 daughter :)

    1. Your right. It's the hidden effect on the whole family that often gets missed & I feel sad about that now I'm on a better path. I'm pretty certain Type 1 will be fixed in your daughters life time and I kind of reckon that will be the best present she will ever get. Hope your all doing well.

  2. My friends granddaughter was diagnosed about 18 months ago with type 1 diabetes at age 11 she and her family are adapting really well, she has a few problems with her school and their lack of understanding but I admire her so much. She could teach diabetes awareness already.

    1. She sounds amazing and she will be so happy with your admiration. I've had a good friend tell me that and it helps a lot.

      It also sounds like she is not letting the Diabetes control her life but with the help of her family, she is controlling it. The fix will come in her lifetime I'm sure.

  3. My late husband was diabetic and I know what you mean about the scary hypos. I still have nightmares about the time his Blood readings dropped to 1.3 whilst he was asleep. It was pure luck that he was the kind to wake up when his sugars got low or there's no saying what might have happened. As it was I nigh on broke my neck fetching some extra glucose tabs from downstairs when the one he had didn't work.

    I am glad your Stephen is doing so well, he is an example to others that diabetes is not a death sentence, nor is it an obesity thing. I hope that Diabetes Month helps dispel some of the false ideas floating around out there.

  4. Wonderful post, RJ (and Steve). Thank you for sharing your story. <3 (I love that Steve ask your mum for your hand in marriage!!!)

    My late father-in-law was a diabetic, as well as having heart disease. He had triple bypass heart surgery two months before my hubby and I were married in July of 1980. While my hubby does not have diabetes (he is the oldest of four, and two of his sibling DO have it), he does have heart disease (he has two stents).
    Science has come such a long way since 1980. There are so many better medications and ways to distribute those medication (pumps, for example), that it is not the death sentence it used to be.
    So happy that Steve is doing so well.
    **big hugs**