My elegant illness

Being diabetic is not massively disruptive to my life. Granted I know little else, having been a mere 4 years old when I was diagnosed. It must have been upsetting for the crumblies when I was diagnosed and also quite worrying– seeing as it’s a fairly serious long-term, chronic illness with some deeply unglamourous long term side effects if neglected – although it can potentially halve your shoe budget if you need a cheeky leg amputation at any point. It’s the short term side effects that are the most dramatic however – the hypoglycaemia.

This is the hideous state where your blood sugar gets falls to below normal levels and you check out of awareness for a while. Now the bigger problem with diabetes is that your sugar is too high, too often– and in fact it is this raised sugar levels that cause the long term side effects. But you can go for years with noticing this and only later does the blindness and heart disease and nerve damage and kidney failure and leg amputation kick in (although with an amputated leg your kicking ability will be somewhat impaired. However if you are responsible and monitor your sugar levels on a daily basis and take all your injections (4 per day for me at the moment) then you can avert this.

But when your sugar is low then the impact is more sudden and dramatic. You (or at least I) can sense it approaching. A sense of panic for no reason, muddled thinking, inability to concentrate, the sweats, irritability. If you catch it at this point then you take yourself to a quiet corner and eat sweets or chocolate or Coke. Or if nothing else is available then some sugar sachets in the coffee corner.

It can sneak up on you unexpectedly. If you eat a meal smaller than normal for example. Or if your take your regular insulin dosage when your blood test is slightly low, then the fun can start a few hours later. I remember about 18 months ago I was at a job interview for a footwear company in Haarlem when waiting for the interview panel to arrive, it dawned on me that the horror was approaching. Now it’s hardly a big selling point to be babbling incoherently and sweating profusely, while trying to appear professional and capable. Luckily there were sugar sachets on the table in front me. I swallowed a few and hoped for the best. The interview went OK – although I am still waiting to hear back from the company about whether or not I was successful. I think I will give them an even 2 years to let me know before I chase them for an update. It’s clearly been a difficult decision for them to make.

Well today I had a mild dose of the horrors at work again. I was in a meeting with my boss about my customer. I was doing OK until I felt the panic and stress.

I asked to be excused for a few minutes. I told the truth as to why – I work there – I am not lying after signing the contract.

And I bought a Wispa bar from the machine. It’s about 30 years since I’ve had one of those.

They are not the tastiest really – I should have had a Bounty Bar. It’s so seldom that I eat chocolate that I may as well get the good stuff when allowed.

Oh well – never mind. In a fit of inspiration on the walk home from the bus stop this evening I bought a 2 euro rabbit ear aerial on the offchance I might be able to connect my TV.

And it works. For the first time in 6 years I have a functi0nal telly.

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