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My type 1 diabetes diagnosis – and why I’m sharing my story

Sophie’s story

Photo collage of Sophie as a child running in her garden, and today wearing her CGM on her arm as she exercises

When I think back to my diagnosis it was, and will always be, one of the most challenging things that I have dealt with – and continue to deal with.

I still remember it as if it was yesterday. My appetite wasn’t like it usually was – I mean, I was only eight so I didn’t have THAT huge of one, but I would still usually eat my three meals a day! So I began to throw my sandwiches away at school, hide them under sofas and in the bins at home (I didn’t really think that one through though). And my thirst was through the roof, not to mention the number of times I had to pee.

I also began to suffer with recurring thrush. Of course thrush isn’t unusual in females, but when it happens that often and you’re screaming with pain, that’s when you know something’s not quite right. The thrush was due to the high sugar levels, and this can also be an early indication of type 1 diabetes.

When mum made the doctor’s appointment I don’t think she was quite expecting the outcome. She spoke with the doctor telling him everything that was happening, my symptoms and how long they had been happening for. And then it was my time to shine: my blood sugars were taken and they were 26!

Now, in school you’re taught the higher the number the better the grade. Turns out, when it comes to blood sugars those rules don’t apply. A non-diabetic’s blood sugar should be between 4 and 8 mmol/L.

The doctor turned to mum and told her that it was very likely I was diabetic but that I would have to go to hospital straight away. Within the hour I was whisked away onto the paediatrics ward and into my own room. Eight-year-old me didn’t know what was happening, but having a TV and PlayStation in there really did soften that blow.

Of course I was quite dehydrated, even though I was drinking lots, which meant a cannula had to go into my hand. The nurses were honestly amazing. In an attempt to calm me down, they would put bandages and splints on my teddy so I felt more comforted. I don’t think that was probably the best use of NHS supplies, but nonetheless it worked and I will always be grateful for their compassion. (That and the magic numbing cream they used to insert the cannula – that stuff is amazing).

It wasn’t long before the diabetic nurses came in and gave us all the information and support that we needed. Then the time came for the insulin… something I was NOT going to willingly participate in! I mean, can you blame me? Needles weren’t exactly something I was a fan of, and especially not when they needed to go into my skin! I felt for all the other children and staff on that ward because I screamed at the top of my lungs for a solid 20 minutes.

I did it though.

From that very moment in the doctor’s office my life changed. It’s as simple as that. Not only mine but my family’s, my friends’ and even my school teachers’. Out went drinking and eating whatever I fancied with no second thought, and in came the sugar-free drinks, rigorous meal times, hypo awareness, NovoRapid/ Levemir, multiple prescriptions, hospital appointments, hospital stays, ketones testing, blood glucose testing, HbA1Cs, and that’s not even all of it!

Being so young when I was diagnosed helped – I think so anyway, because I can’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t had to follow a routine or take medication – so for me personally it was so much easier to adapt to. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t come with its fair share of complications and feelings though.

This is the exact reason why I created my blog, Type 1 Confessions. There, I will be sharing my story – my frustrations, my experiences and covering topics that are rarely spoken about (like diabetic burnout). My aim is to ensure that others living with diabetes know that they are most definitely not alone.

I also have a growing TikTok account devoted to spreading awareness about type 1 diabetes through relatable videos. If you feel like you checking that out you can find it here.

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