Lydia Parkhurst, 18, had ‘autopilot’ assumptions about type 1 diabetes before she was diagnosed. Her journey so far of life with the condition has involved plenty of highs and lows! She shared them with JDRF.
Autopilot – Diabetes – that’s what you get when you eat too much sugar, right? But at four stone, weight was definitely not my problem and at 12 years old I was oblivious to what type 1 diabetes was. The same day I was injecting myself and checking my sugar levels. Taking type 1 in my stride and 6 months after with a HBA1C of 6.2% I was offered an insulin pump with undying support from my parents and sister!
High – I signed up to be a youth Ambassador for JDRF. That’s where my passion accelerated! I attended my first Youth Ambassador Day where I met my friend, Maya, unexpectedly meeting again five years later as a roommate on a diabetes camp! I’ve had many fantastic opportunities such as holding fundraisers, doing speeches to over 500 people and meeting new friends – which is so important- being a teen with type 1 can feel isolating at times!
Low – GCSEs are the bane of every teenager’s life! Even more so with type 1- stress and diabetes do not mix well! A spoonful of sugar does not help our medicine go down! During GCSEs I was put in a separate room due to the anxiety I was experiencing and problems with my diabetes. This meant months of fluctuating blood sugar levels. Sometimes my bloods would be high because of adrenaline, other times my blood sugars would go low with no extra insulin added. UNPREDICTABLE is an understatement.
High – Last year I was lucky enough to upgrade to an omnipod insulin pump which I love and I was given the amazing opportunity to lobby in Parliament with JDRF on the #CountMeIn campaign! I got to speak to many politicians including Andrew Gwynne and I explained to Ed Miliband how type 1 diabetes is an important issue. Being able to speak about something so important to me helped me gain confidence, reminding me I own my diabetes.
Low – A Levels – The exam conundrum started again and again pressure was a big factor. After LOTS of persuading from my Diabetes Specialist Nurse I was sent to see a lady to help me deal with the stress. If anyone else is struggling with this, it is normal, there is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s ok to ask for help. I learned a lot about myself during this time and only now I realise that the stress wasn’t only affecting my diabetes but me as well. Being a perfectionist with type 1 diabetes is not easy!
High – Through JDRF and the #countmein campaign I became a lot more involved in Twitter. Social media is so important to any teen! I found there is often someone online to help. I also met so many friends on a diabetes camp where we weren’t the odd one out because we all had type 1. My best friends make teenage life with Type 1 easier, because they understand what you are going through.
Today– Despite my type 1 being a roller coaster during my exams I’m going to university! I’ve recently been travelling around Europe with my friends and I found type 1 did not stop me at all. I’ve decided to inspire people through my YouTube channel and blog to raise more awareness – from the view of a teen. Own your diabetes, it’s not easy, but think about what you’ve achieved, and how far you’ve come.
It’s hard being a teenager and it’s harder being a teenager with type 1 diabetes. But has that ever stopped us?!