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“Research into a cure means a lot to me”

Marcel Somerville: DJ, Presenter, Blazin Squad, @marcel_rockyb shares his story

Marcel Sommerville, who has type 1 diabetes wearing a black vest

My diagnosis during lockdown

I was 34 when I was diagnosed. It was in the middle of the first pandemic lockdown and I didn’t feel well. I thought have I got COVID? It all came on really rapidly, in just two weeks I lost a lot of weight, I kept on needing to go to the toilet, I was really thirsty.

I had some blood tests done at my GP surgery and I was waiting a few days for the results, but that very day I remember eating a plum. The natural sugar in the plum tipped me over the edge and into DKA.

I can remember sleeping then vomiting and drifting in and out of consciousness. It was horrible. My girlfriend called an ambulance and when the paramedics came all I can remember was a blur of flashing emergency lights from the ambulance and the lights of the A&E department. Because it was lockdown my girlfriend wasn’t allowed to come with me so I was on my own not knowing what was happening.

After the doctors had put me on a drip I was taken into the intensive care unit. It was a really crazy experience because my girlfriend had just told me that she was pregnant and we were going to have a baby, but there I was in ITU, my life in danger.

Then when the doctors had stabilised me they told me I had type 1 diabetes. I remember them pumping me with all this information about how my life would change, how I’d need to carb count, check blood glucose levels, and manage my ketones for the rest of my life. It was a massive shock to my system.

I remember thinking not just how my life would change, but also I remember thinking ‘I’m going to be a dad, what kind of dad will I be with this diagnosis’. Then I thought ‘Mate, you need to take note of everything the doctors say so that you can be the dad you want to be’.

Getting to grips with type 1

So I took all the information I could get hold of, I got used to carb counting and injecting insulin, and very soon I got a technology treatment called Freestyle Libre on the NHS which electronically measures my blood glucose and sends readings to my phone, with a trend line showing if my blood glucose is going up or down. That has been a game changer to me as I can more accurately figure out what dose of insulin I need to treat myself with.

Research into a cure with type 1 means a lot to me. I’ve got to make so many daily health decisions: like how many grams of carbs have I eaten, how much insulin do I need to inject, when should I inject and are my blood glucose levels right now OK for me to drive.

There are 400,000 people living with type 1 in the UK. There’s a really good online community, people are really mutually supportive, but there are researchers who are working to actually cure this condition, so that every one of the 400,000 people could live life as they want, just like everyone else. That matters a lot.

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