Why I wish I was diagnosed in 1994, not 2010

This blog entry may, or may not, be a huge procrastination tool from finishing the last 400 words of a uni essay. If procrastination was a subject I’d be 100%ing all over it.

Is it better to be diagnosed when you’re younger or older?

It’s a question that has popped up on a couple of the forums I regularly stalk. I’m a supporter of the ‘I’d rather have been diagnosed when I was little’ side. There are lots of little arguments as to why, but these two basically sum it up.

– I wouldn’t know anything different
I see this point as being like only children not missing siblings they never had. If I had been diagnosed when I was little, diabetes would have been a part of me from the beginning. I would have grown with it, slipping comfortably into diabetes and embracing it as part of myself. Instead I’ve been awkwardly trying to grow into it from the age of seventeen. It’s like I’ve been trying to fit into a pair of too small skinny jeans, all while knowing there is a much comfier pair of track pants out there that my body just won’t let me wear. Worst metaphor ever, but we all know what I’m trying to say. I know what it’s like to eat without thinking about it, to only have injections once in a blue moon and not have to worry about anything more physically threatening than a cold. At least if I had been diagnosed earlier, I wouldn’t have tasted that freedom before diabetes snatched it and ate it right on front of me. Spontaneity? What’s that again?  

Now this is a really trashy point, but I think it’s valid. I remember getting drunk and not worrying about ANY consequences. No constant checking of BGLs, no wondering whether I’m low or tipsy, no going low during my sleep… I tried to do that again last year while living in England, i.e. say a massive “Fuck you!” to diabetes and stop worrying abour my BGLs for a couple of hours. Unfortunately I ended up in the local hospital with a double whammy of alcohol poisoning and DKA – needless to say it was not the smartest decision I’ve ever made.

More often than not I want to rip my pump out and throw it against the wall, watching it shatter (in my dreams it shatters) into a million tiny pieces. I think the reason I love the pump so much is because it allows me to ‘forget’ that I have to count my food and prick my finger – no injections for me! Well, until the next site change at least 😉 I’m still working on acceptance, and I want to fast forward and get to the point where I see so many other people with type 1 at – full acceptance and motivation. At the moment I don’t have either of these!

– My parents would know as much as me
Before I start this paragraph, know that I love you both incredibly and appreciate your support more than words! However, at the end of the day, if I had been diagnosed as a toddler my parents would have not had any choice as to what they needed to learn. It would have been everything. Carb counting, coping with hypos, exercise, injections – everything. Being diagnosed at seventeen luckily meant that my parents did not have to deal with a hypoing toddler, but it also meant that the bulk of my diagnosis was on me. They were able to take their time and learn as they went. Not that that’s a bad thing – I am an incredibly independent person and would never have asked them to do it all for me anyway. But it was incredibly lonely. I had no choice but to learn incredibly quickly – after all, it was my health that was at risk! When something like a diagnosis of a lifelong disease suddenly roars into your life, the first people you want are your parents. When your parents are just as lost and confused as you are, that loneliness trebles and you honestly feel like the only person on earth. I took care of myself and that sucked. I know I was seventeen, but I was still a child, and I honestly wish that this had all happened years ago so I didn’t have to spend the first year constantly telling Dad what a hypo was. We had a massive fight earlier this year because he didn’t know how to inject the Glucagon. If I had been little when I was diagnosed, he would have known, and I wouldn’t have had to sit down with him (or rather, ask Mum to, I’m too angry and hot headed – basically I’m too much of a bitch) and say ‘This is how you save my life’.

No, I wouldn’t have had a ‘carefree’ childhood or laid-back parents, but I wouldn’t be trying to accept myself as a person and find my way through life as 20 something while also still learning how to get on top of this stupid disease!

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9 responses to “Why I wish I was diagnosed in 1994, not 2010

  1. Daisy Lewis Toakley

    Awesome post as usual Mamma G! So much food for thought.
    One of my sister’s friends is a type 1, she was diagnosed when she was pretty little. Thus, as you have predicted, her parents have been diabetes experts for years and still take most of the responsibility for her insulin and pump and what not (she’s now 14). She sometimes eats a bag of lollies or piece of cake, tells her mum and then just laughs it off leaving her mum to have the headache of calculating her insulin. It definitely sounds preferable to being thrust into the disease the way you were, and I can’t even imagine how it would’ve felt trying to learn how to be a pancreas, alone, and in the middle of year 12.
    But also consider; imagine being a parent knowing you’re entirely responsible for the pancreas of your little kid, and the absolute terror you’d live with afraid you’d miscalculate or make en error, or your kid would eat something without you seeing. Especially if the kid was too young to tell you if they started feeling faint or clammy.
    Just a thought, I agree with you on the most part, but I’m sure most parents would want their kids to go as long as possible without the diagnosis, to be as care free as possible, for as long as possible, and to be as mature and as mentally tough as possible when they do eventually get diagnosed.

    I reckon it’s better to have got carelessly drunk and had a pash on the streets of Chapel, than to have never known what it feels like to have a careless drunk pash on Chapel. Think of all the cake stalls we wouldn’t have been able to gorge on if you’d been diagnosed at 2!

    • yeah, I’m crossing my fingers and toes that my future kids don’t get it! if I muck up it’s just my health, but to send your child into a seizure hypo…dear lord I’d be terrified.
      Yeah I can definitely see where you’re coming from, and there’s definitely arguments for both sides! In the long run I think it was better getting it when I was still youngish, to break fully formed adult habits if I’d got it at 30 would be a bitch. The fact that I’m writing this and that post with a blood sugar of 24 probably made me a lot more resentful and frustrated than I would have been at a bgl of 6 🙂

  2. I was diagnosed when I was 9, and my parents are still not smart about the disease. But I agree with you on a lot of levels that it is easier on me now. I have adapted to a healthier way of living. But I grew up without an insulin pump and 5 second glucose tests. I still loved and craved sugar, maybe even more so. And I fear the harm I might have done my body with my erratic sugars. But if I knew then what I know now….yes I’d choose the earlier diagnosis any day! And I believe it has made me healthier.

  3. Interesting post! Im 27 now, diagnosed when i was 12. So I guess i’m that person you sometimes wish to be lol 😛

    Well, its strange, I think, definitely my age was the limit, I mean I wouldn’t have wanted this any younger…!

    That point where you said you remember what it was like to go out drinking without having to worry about checking blood, or taking injections.

    Well, turn it around! Make that a positive!! At 12, I didnt drink so I’ve never had that experience. I always do wonder what it would be like though, to walk out the house without my needles or glucose monitor, eat and drink regardless of anything else! You’ve had the chance to experience that, an experience someone like me hasn’t! Thats gotta be a good thing right 😛

    But I take the other point too, at 12 I got diagnosed and just accepted it immediately, maybe I was too young to know any better, I imagine it might have been more difficult to be diagnosed 5 years later maybe!

    But some other of the things you mention I had too, especially the parents thing lol. But I guess you mean younger that 12.

    But hey, at the end of the day this is life right, we just gotta get along with it. Easy to say I know, but there are a lot worse off things that could have happened to us! Thats what I always think when i have to go inject again 😛

    • exactly! It sucked getting it after knowing life without it, but I could have gotten cancer, been hit by a car and have no legs, broken my spine etc. Diabetes is shit, but there are many more shittier things out there 🙂

  4. opposite side of the fence this time!

    I got diabetes when I was four and I’m on the opposite side of the fence, I wish I got Diabetes when I was 20! yes, I understand that this is all I know and so that makes this routine for me and maybe easier because I don’t know what I’m missing, But by the time i was 20 I had been in hospital 20 or more times, gone into DKA to the point I had hospitals fighting over me because they thought I was going to die and they wanted me to die in their hospital for insurance reasons, my parents went through hell! my mum had to quit her job to come up to the school and test my sugars three times a day because the school refused to do it. which means my family had less money, and now had more bills between the chemist and countless doctors appointments. I had kids who didnt want to be friend incase they caught it, I was five at this time so it wasn’t like i could exactly explain it all, I just cried.
    I became that unpopular kid almost instantly. I wouldn’t be so scared to try the pump out if I got it when I was older but needles are what I know now and are what ill stick to! I wouldn’t have had so many complications already, like gang green, DKA, lumps and scars etc.
    I wouldn’t have missed so much school… and yes I did complete school with all Highs and Very Highs but it took a lot of extra work!
    But the most important reason I wish I got it later in life is because now that my pancreas hasn’t been doing its job properly for 16 years (and I’m only 20 now) and thats probably taken more time off the end of my life than if I had of got it when I was 20. thats time I won’t get to spend with my future children, grandchildren, family and friends. time I won’t get to do more things in my life.

    • 😦 I can definitely see your point, it must be so hard to have had it for that long and go through puberty especially with t1d! being young is difficult enough! I’m sorry for what you’ve been through, sending love and prayers your way! x

  5. I hear you on all of this. I was diagnosed at the same age (and year) as you. I feel exactly the same way as you about all of this. But I still wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I’m so grateful that diabetes and imperfect BGLs are only a fraction of my life today. I have time to get it right without feeling the pressure of potential complications from years of living with diabetes. And as much as I hate diabetes is today, I think I’d hate myself more if I’d gone through childhood with it. It sort of motivates me a bit, weirdly. Great post!

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