Friday, 19 April 2013

The Obligatory Hendrix Perm

Well having decided to start a blog site the next major hurdle was where the hell do you begin?

So I decided to start at the most logical place where these shenanigans first came about. The day of diagnosis.

Looking around at other sites it seems Obligatory to have something on diagnosis or its impact in your first couple of posts. So like the beautiful sheep of my native homeland of Cumbria I will follow the flock as this seems to set the tone.  So here goes with my story………


The day was 13th September 2004 my diabetes date of birth. That makes me nearly 9 years into the crazy adventure of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. There have been some crazy highs and some deeply depressing lows (maybe some more about them in future posts). However in the main I am now fairly well controlled with the multiple daily injections of Levemir and Novarapid insulin.

As well as being a thirty something year old with T1 diabetes I am also a father of two, a brother, a son, and husband. In the last 2 decades I have earned my pennies being a consumer scientist and a chocolate salesman, but in more recent times as a public health nutritionist who is currently managing a research program in the NHS. So much potential for diabetes related blathering to follow.

Anyways I digress - That diagnosis.
The day in question is etched onto my memory forever. However I want to start a few days earlier. My wife and I were enjoying the last few days of our holiday in Greece. I woke up one morning and had to get a doctor out to our hotel. I had a medical problem.

[Point of order No1 - Mum, if you are reading this, be warned- I am about to mention my penis on the internet]. The medical problem was not diabetes (or so I thought)…………. but that my penis was about to fall off. This was rather worrying for a 28 year old male!

As it turned out my penis was not in fact about to fall off, but I had a very bad case of Thrush. [Thank God and Praise the Lord]. Having never had the misfortune to encounter Thrush before, I was more than a little horrified to say least. I was also more concerned about where this damn thrush had come from. I was thinking my wife, who did not have thrush, [NB – my wife told me clarify that point at this juncture], would be thinking I had been doing the do with someone else or something.

Point of order No2 (for my mum really) – The inability of people with diabetes to process carbohydrate if not controlled properly with insulin means you excrete excess glucose in your pee. This extra glucose forms a delicious “all you can eat buffet” for the little Thrushy beasties. Yuk!!! Therefore thrush is often one of the first symptoms of uncontrolled blood sugars.

So the doctor came out gave me some pills and some cream and that sorted that. For the last two days of the holiday I did an unusual thing. I drank loads of full fat Coca Cola. This was highly unusual for me as being a foodie and nutrition conscious type of guy I never usually consume fizzy drinks. However I had this uncontrollable desire to consume loads and loads of coke.

We returned home from holiday on the Sunday as I was starting a new higher education course on the Monday. By chance I sat in the lecture theatre next to this Irish guy who I had never met before. After a couple of hours he turns to me and says “you are hammering the water this morning, were you out on the beers last night?”  I reply “no but for the last 3 days I’ve been able quench my thirst”.

This chance encounter quite possibly saved my life. He persuaded me to check my blood sugar levels on his testing kit. So out comes a new aseptic finger pricker and he drew blood from my finger. (The first of many thousand times since).

I looked down at the display and it read 44.7mmol/L. naively I enquired if that was about right? For the record a healthy person should have reading of around ten times less concentration at only 4–7mmol/L.
The Irish man very assertively informs me I better get to hospital.  He would not take no for an answer “if you do not go now I will ring a taxi and take you there bloody myself”. So I eventually get to A+E, the nurse tests my blood and says “47.5 that’s the highest blood sugar reading I have ever seen”.  This is not what you want to hear when in an A+E department at a major hospital. As they say the rest is history.

So that was 2004 the year of my diagnosis. Thankfully I have not seen readings anywhere near that since that day although like all people with diabetes I have my ups and downs. I am very lucky to have been diagnosed and still be treated at North Tyneside General Hospital who have looked after me in this journey with T1 diabetes.

The moral of story is

  • I was unaware of the symptoms
  • I was rather blasé about going to the doctors
  • I was young, fit and assumed it was nothing serious                                                   
  • (Consumed by that air of invisibility that good health and youth tends to foster).

As we know there is a growing obesity epidemic in this country and the related rise is Type 2 diabetes is going to be a major health problem. The need for knowledge of the symptoms of diabetes to be communicated to the general public has never been greater.

This story is dedicated to the Irish man who came to my rescue, seen my symptoms and acted on his gut instinct. He did not walk by on the other side. I will forever be eternally grateful to him. He is currently having his own non-diabetes related health issue at the moment. I am hoping that being the inspiration for this blog site will make him proud and it brings a smile to his face at this difficult time. Thinking of you buddy.
So off we go on this blog site thing and as it begins to evolve and take shape and as my Irish friend would say. I hope you enjoy the craic! 
 “I love you baby like a miner loves gold. Come on sugar, let the good times roll.” (J Hendrix)

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