JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charityStoriesUniversity life and type 1 diabetes

University life and type 1 diabetes

Author: Vicki Gibbs's story | Posted: 22 April 2014

By Vicki Gibbs

A lot of my life revolves around diabetes. I have type one, for a start. I write a blog about diabetes. My friend, Lizzie, and I started a Facebook group for students with diabetes. I go to Circle D events, and various others such as the Hedgie Pricks Diabetes one I went to last summer. And I love being a part of the diabetes online community (known as #DOC on Twitter).

But it’s not everything. Honest.


When I was told I had type one diabetes, I didn’t really know what that meant. I’d studied diabetes in my GCSE Biology class, but that was about the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I was 17 years old when I was diagnosed. I was due to sit my A-Levels in about a month’s time, I’d just paid off my holiday with the girls from school and I was planning on going to university that September. When I was sat in that hospital bed, I remember my mum looking at me. She didn’t say anything, but I knew what she was thinking, and, despite the uncertainty in my mind, I turned around and said to her “I’ve just paid off my holiday, so don’t you even think about trying to stop me from going! Same goes for uni! If I get the grades, I’m gone!”

My mum was already worried about me going to uni, without throwing diabetes into the mix, and I can understand why, but I decided in that moment that my life wasn’t going to stop just because my beta cells had. And, trust me when I say, it hasn’t.

Four months after diagnosis, I went to Fuerteventura with my friends and I had the best time!

Five months after diagnosis, I turned 18, received my A-Level results and found out I’d got into my first choice of university (all on the same day, actually)!

Six months after diagnosis, I moved out and started university.

Two years after diagnosis, I moved to Toulouse, France, for five months and then to Alcalá de Henares, Spain for six months (the perks of being a language student).

It’s been an incredibly busy few years, but I have had the time of my life.

I’m not saying it’s been easy, because it hasn’t. Diabetes is a full-time, unpaid job, one I would retire from (kind of like my pancreas) if I could. I’ve gone through days of diabetes burn-out, which turned into weeks, which turned into months. I’ve had wicked low blood sugars and horrible highs. I’ve been admitted to hospital because of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and living abroad posed some problems when it came to my diabetes management.

Despite this, on the whole, my life is more than diabetes. Yes, I choose to focus on “diabetes moments”, particularly on my blog, and I’ve chosen to become an active member of the diabetes online community, but there is so much more to my life, so much more to my identity than this disease.

I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend, an auntie, a language student, a Brownie leader, and, yes, a person living with type one diabetes.

And that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, isn’t it?! Living.