1. When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes later than most at 25 years old in 2012. So I’m still quite new, however it already feels like a lifetime!
2. Has there been a moment in your life when you were grateful for having diabetes?
My diagnosis was devastating at first but it led to a new career that I love, living in a new city that I love, where I met my girlfriend who I love! I’m a strong believer in things happen for a reason and something good always comes from something bad in life. I’m happier with life post-diagnosis, even though I need to live with this disease for the rest of my life.
3. Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging fresh out of hospital as I’ve always found writing a therapeutic way to get things out. I have also been fortunate enough to take part in a few research projects that were really interesting and fun to take part in so wanted to tell the world and spread awareness of taking part in research.
Online diabetes communities are huge and very active, especially on social media. I get a lot of comfort and support from people in the same position as me, but they can be anywhere in the world.
4. Has diabetes affected your ability to exercise?
For the first year, exercise was avoided. It was just too much to deal with on top on everything else, plus my job at the time was extremely active so that keep the blood pumping.
In 2014 I climbed Kilimanjaro, which involved lots of training. Preparing for this challenge opened my eyes to the power of exercise to manage your levels. I’d always thought exercise would make things more complicated but over the long term it stabilises the fluctuations, mostly.
Occasionally, when I want to exercise and my diabetes isn’t behaving, it stops me but this is rare and is not an excuse to never exercise.
5. What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person?
As much as this disease is a burden on your daily life and frustrating as hell, it’s a condition that can be managed. Your future is in your hands and not your doctors, unlike most other chronic conditions. You will become an expert at nutrition, maths and understanding your body. You will become more disciplined and organised. Type 1 turns ordinary people into super heroes.
My best advice is find others with type 1 and make an effort to connect with them from time to time. Type 1 can make you feel lonely so there’s nothing better for your outlook than using others in the same position to bounce off. Whether that’s online, your local hospital, charity support group or your school or work place.
6. What is your greatest accomplishment?
I mentioned it earlier but my biggest achievement is climbing Kilimanjaro with type 1 diabetes. I never thought I could do something like this before I was diagnosed with type 1 but to do it with a condition that’s so demanding was a real achievement for me and built my confidence up a lot. Having the condition has made me more determined and I push harder with everything I do in life now. Climbing Kili hard, painful, frustrating at times, mentally and physically draining but by far the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I showed myself that type 1 is not going to hold me back.