Type 1 superheroes give us the strength and power that we don’t always know we have. Mine is my wife

Author: Daniel Newman's story | Posted: 09 November 2018

JDRF's Daniel with his superhero wife Kleo

My type 1 diabetes superhero is dedicated to fighting the evil of high blood sugars, night-time hypos and everything in-between. As with all good superhero stories you need a bit of background so here it is.

I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for over 22 years. I was diagnosed at the age of 10. If me and my type 1 diabetes were on a well-known social media channel, our relationship would be listed as ‘complicated’.

Recently, we have been on better terms, but still have our misunderstandings. They say that if you do a specific task for 10,000 hours then you become an expert. I’ve been doing the type 1 diabetes thing for over 192,000 hours and I’m still far from an expert.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not always been engaged with managing my type 1 diabetes, particularly during my teenage years. The pressure of being a teenager who is trying to make sense of life, trying to fit in and trying to manage a chronic illness was all too much.

In my mind something had to take a back seat and for me it was my type 1 diabetes. I went through the years managing it in a relaxed manner. I tested my levels if I felt like it and wasn’t honest with my diabetes team because of the shame and guilt I felt about not being ‘good’ at managing my type 1 diabetes.

I had reached a point where all things type 1 related was too much and I just couldn’t handle it. I felt that every decision I was making related to my type 1 diabetes was the wrong one. It became a self-perpetuating cycle. Although I didn’t realise at the time, I had burnout. This period of burnout stayed with me for a number of years until things started to change.

We all know that a superhero comes in and saves the day, gives you the strength you need to continue and gives you powers that you never knew you had. Mine was no different.

My type 1 superhero doesn’t wear a cape and doesn’t have type 1 diabetes but for the past eight years has taken every step with me on my type 1 diabetes journey. My type 1 superhero is my wife Kleo.

Taking on type 1 diabetes for someone not living with the condition is no small feat. For the first time I felt like I had someone in my corner that believed in me and knew I could succeed. That feeling was overwhelming and one I will never forget.

Kleo knows the territory that comes with having a type 1 partner and understands how a hypo can be temporarily debilitating and how a hyper can knock the stuffing out of me.

After 19 years of being on injections, moving to an insulin pump was nerve wracking but I had someone there by my side getting excited about it.

Kleo researches type 1 diabetes so thoroughly that at times I think she is my consultant, but the most important thing my type 1 superhero does – living with the fact that from now on the butter compartment in the fridge will only be used to house insulin supplies. As with all superheroes, this doesn’t faze her.

My type 1 superhero may not have type 1 but having someone in your corner sharing your highs and lows makes a real difference.

Living with type 1 diabetes can be isolating at times but a support network, however big or small, makes all the difference.

On November 14 I will be celebrating my type 1 superhero, will you be celebrating yours?