People with type 2 diabetes write back to their younger selves, to share personal insights and reflect on their experience of living with diabetes and starting on insulin therapy. In this post, Chris reflects on living with diabetes.
At 31, Chris wasn’t the sort of person who was eager to curtail his social life. Convivial and gregarious, he was working long hours in healthcare and putting in long hours partying with friends. He frequented private clubs during the week, where he taught line dancing, and ventured out to bars at weekends.
By the time he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which ran in his family, he had dropped down to going out one or two nights a week because he felt so tired and lethargic. By taking medication and trying to watch his diet, it wasn’t long before Chris was able to resume his social schedule.
“I was out three or four nights a week. I was single, had no children and loving life,” he remembers. “My grandfather had type 2 diabetes and he managed pretty well with it. So was I – or so I thought.”
Now 44, he works as a senior support worker in a residential care home and lives in Littlehampton, UK. Chris is writing to himself shortly after being diagnosed with diabetes.
Dear Big C
Howdy. So, now you’re 31. Who’d have thought that would seem so old? You’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It seems so daunting, but really, it’s not. You’ll need to make alterations and a few years down the line it will seem a whole lot worse, but you will survive it all. You may lose control of your blood sugar levels at times, but you are capable of gaining back that control.
So, what do you do now? Make changes to your diet. Watch what you drink. ‘It’s easy,’ they tell you. Well…we know it’s not. But you can do it if you try.
The one big message I have is: watch your weight. I know you have always yo-yoed with your weight but now, more than ever, you need to gain control. The key is to change your lifestyle. So how do you do it? Start with taking command of your weight. Also, you don’t have to drink every weekend. Take some time off from drinking.
The tablets and diet will work for a while and then the big one will land. The specialist will offer insulin therapy. Take it. You’ll think all sorts of negative things, but it’s not as bad as it seems. At work, you’ve drawn blood from enough people to know what you are doing. And let’s be honest, the needles are small.
You’ll worry about hypoglycemia – the thought that you might suddenly experience an episode if you are driving or out of the house. In fact, at the start you’ll let your blood sugars run a little high if you know you are going out or having to drive so that the risk of a ‘hypo’ will be minimal. But later you’ll learn how to control your blood sugar levels and will be able to respond quickly. You can handle all this.
As I – your future self at age 44 – write this now, I have hit another low. My blood sugar control is actually out of control, but I have a wonderful new diabetes nurse who is going to help me. So, just like you, I will need to look at my lifestyle and make a few changes. Also writing this letter to you is helping.
It gets better. Honest.
Love and hugs,
This story has been edited by Ellyn Spragins and shared with support from Novo Nordisk Canada. The views and opinions expressed are not representative of Novo Nordisk, and should not be considered treatment advice. Novo Nordisk has permission to share this letter and included personal details.