How I’ve learned to live with type one diabetes

Amber McGrath, 21, lives in Plymouth and has a blog about living with diabetes.

I have lived with type one diabetes for what feels like my whole life.

I was diagnosed at age four and I wholeheartedly believe that my parents took the blunt force of the diagnosis, having to come to terms with everything.

In a way I feel lucky to not know any different because much to my parents’ relief, my childhood was not tainted in the slightest.

I started to take control of my diabetes at the age of nine, when I learnt to monitor my own blood glucose levels.

In turn, I went on to administer my at least four daily injections, calculate my insulin doses and carry my diabetes kit and hypo treatments.

What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.

Becoming a teenager

Then came adolescence where the onset of periods and hormones came to play.

I developed a tendency to detest my diabetes in much the same way as I had learnt to take on its inevitable responsibilities a few years prior. I guess you could call it a rebellion phase. Although that makes it sound a lot more exciting than it was to experience first hand.

I fell into a long bout of what I now recognise as burnout and the resulting self-neglect that followed.

I would highlight years 15 to 18 as the period where I regained my living-with-an-autoimmune-condition balance.

I began to realise how I wasn’t only hurting myself but those that I loved in the process of my own self-destruction. I learnt to channel my emotions and trained my brain to interpret what this meant in terms of my blood glucose levels.

Amber

Starting a blog

Along the way, I launched my blog ‘diabetesgeek’ to share and document my life with type one diabetes .

I started to write in the hope that someone, somewhere would relate and gain comfort in knowing they are not alone.

As my blog became more successful and I found the diabetes online community (DOC), I was presented with fantastic opportunities and now regard myself as an advocate for young people living with type one.

Through the DOC, I began using the Freestyle Libre which opened up my mind to new technologies in the world of diabetes.

I started insulin pump therapy in 2017 which allowed me to find more freedom and flexibility than I had ever experienced with multiple daily injections.

I wear my devices with such utter pride and joy, I love being part bionic.

Fast forward to present day where I am studying for my degree to become a speech and language therapist.

My partner and I have moved in together cross-country and are flourishing in a new city to explore.

I love the way that life is shaping out for me and I can hand on heart say that it is down to my pure determination and hard work.

If you put the work in, you will reap the rewards.

Sure, diabetes can provide challenges, curveballs and unpredictability but I feel like it gives me a wider appreciation for life and the opportunities I am given.

I live my life in full bloom and it feels wonderful.

I hope you do too.

Useful links

Find out more about Amber by following her on Twitter at @diabetes_geek
or on Instagram at diabetesgeek.

And for more on diabetes, visit: NHS.uk

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