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Lydia Parkhurst aged 19, is a second year geography student at Hull University and she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old. Lydia and her family were shocked to discover that she had developed diabetes at such a young age. In the second of a series of blogs on NHS England to mark World Diabetes Day, Lydia tells her story to highlight the condition.
I didn’t really know what Type 1 diabetes was. I’d only really heard of Type 2 and even then I didn’t really know what that was.
What really shocked me was when I learned how hard Type 1 diabetics have to work to keep themselves alive; and what a dangerous disease it can potentially be, if I don’t look after myself and take my insulin.
I now have to test my blood sugar and have doses of insulin around six times a day and although it’s been hard to adapt, I’ve had to accept that this is going to be my routine for the rest of my life.
It’s hard at that age to take on such a responsibility; to make it fit into your life and you have to remember to keep on top of it, as there is a lot to learn at the beginning.
I’m a positive person and I was determined not to let it get the better of me. For me, I knew that I had to manage the condition to avoid becoming seriously ill. You don’t really have a choice. It was a case of, live with it, look after it and make it fit in with your life. The alternative is becoming ill, seriously ill, being hospitalised, maybe losing my eyesight and other devastating complications that I don’t want to think about. It is a no brainer!
Not many people knew I had Type 1 when I was younger. Obviously my friends and family knew and were very supportive. I didn’t have to change the way I did things, I just had to plan beforehand what supplies I would need to take with me and always be prepared.
Diabetes has been described as an invisible disease but with the amount of time and concentration someone with Type 1 has to spend looking after themselves, it certainly isn’t invisible to them. I want people to know about the dangers of the disease regardless of which type it is. There is a great deal of news about people with Type 2 and the rising numbers of people developing it; but there is never any coverage about Type 1. That’s why I want to do my bit in this blog, to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes. It is a hard disease to learn to cope with, but I’m doing it, just as have many others are. I want to alert people to the fact that it’s just as dangerous and that we need to look after health to ensure we don’t become ill. People don’t realise that with a too high or too low blood sugar, diabetics can fall into a coma. It’s scary.
Every day we take responsibility for our own health. My message to others is learn to control the diabetes, and look after your health after all the consequences are too grave not to.