So today is Wednesday. My HbA1c appointment was on Monday.
I didn’t go.
I know, I know. I’m going to diabetes hell. But before you start tutting at how I’ve got to face up to these things, and how hypocritical I am after everything I’ve said about taking control, I didn’t not go because I was afraid. You can’t be afraid of diabetes because it’s there whether you like it or not, and also because even if you run from it, it will come and find you anyway, and deal you the worst possible consequences for not trying to at least associate with it from a distance.
I know this because there was a time in my life when I decided that I knew best when it came to my diabetes, and that “best” that I was so damn cocky about was, in fact, ignoring it completely.
I say “completely” – that’s not the case, but I was certainly irresponsible when it came to looking after myself. I look back now and it both horrifies and terrifies me in equal measure. What a prize numpty I was.
You see, I went through childhood as an absolutely ace diabetic. HbA1c’s of 6 or 7 without really over thinking it – but I was active, sporty and far too concerned with meeting my friends down on the green to worry about whether I wanted pudding or not, and also far too young to deliberate whether a glass of wine was a good idea! (The answer, in case you’re wondering, is yes). I think it was maybe more that I only had responsibility to a certain extent; while I did my own injections, ate properly and exercised right, this was all under the watchful eye of Mrs G. “Have you had your jab?” “Have you eaten enough?” “Have you got enough insulin?” “You’ll go low if you’re not careful, take this Lucozade with you” etc etc. Bless her, how she understood diabetes so well so quickly I’ll never know, but I guess it’s just one of those ‘Mum’ things that no one else can explain, because it’s just what Mums do.
But then, at 18, I went to uni and I was left to my own devices. I don’t know what happened, but I remember one day, in my third year (by far my worst when it came to my diabetes. It was a gradual process of disassociation me thinks) walking through the kitchen and seeing my blood glucose meter on the windowsill. I nonchalantly went to grab it to take it upstairs and I realised it was DUSTY. Yes, it had been there so long, like an unimpressive ornament, that it had actually gathered dust. The poor thing was like Woody in Toy Story when Andy becomes too old and too cool for his toys. But, my diabetic friends, we all know this piece of equipment is not a toy. These days it is in my handbag at all times, and I call on it at least three times a day without fail. It’s as important to me as other lifelines that reside in the Mary Poppins-esque depths of my bag, like my purse, or my phone. But back then, as I turned my nose up and picked it up with my thumb and my forefinger, like a bloke’s dirty old sock, this realisation didn’t even shock me into action. Moreover, I was probably quite amused by the fact.
Something about my third year at uni left me struggling. Looking back now, I was outwardly bubbly and confident – with plenty of friends and a good social life – but I was really quite miserable underneath it all. I was on the committee of the dance society, but I had become a chubby, lethargic form of my old sparkly self, when diabetes was something I acknowledged and worked alongside. Diabetes had become my enemy and a huge part of me had faded away as a result. A fat dancer no less. How beautiful, it strikes me as rather tragic. I had also developed a rather dangerous relationship with food, and I don’t know if that was the catalyst for my poor control, or whether it had happened the other way around – that dealing with diabetes, worrying about carbs and sugars and units had sent me a bit loopy when it came to what I put into my gob. Either way, it was a rather dangerous and sad place to be, and it’s not something I look back on with pride. Third year at university is supposed to be a time when you’re living life to the full, without a care in the world, excited about the future but living for the now. I was 21 for god’s sake. But I was just a bit lost; stuck somewhere between the happy person I was on the outside and the desperately unhappy, unconfident, uncomfortable, acutely self-conscious person that hid on the inside.
I wouldn’t say my diabetes was completely out of control – I took my insulin at least. But really, I think that’s probably the extent of it, and I clearly wasn’t taking enough. I remember calling up the doctor for my HbA1c result because I was too scared to go and see them. When the nurse told me it was 9.6, I exclaimed in surpsise: “Oh! That’s not that bad!” Of course, an average of 9.6 over three years is pretty damn horrific. But I was being ignorant then. I was fine, just fine. I could ignore my diabetes, eat (and drink!) what I wanted, when I wanted. Oh my poor, poor body. I’d love to know just how many VKs I consumed over the three years. But at 50p a drink, I was fully on that sugar-laden band wagon. Vile!
I didn’t get the wake up call to address things for many months. Remember those consequences I mentioned earlier, that diabetes likes to heap on you just when you think you’ve managed to cut all ties and live the good life without much thought for that rather irritating medical condition that’s so casually shat all over you for the rest of your life? Yeh, those consequences. They came for me and impacted like a ten tonne truck, and you can read about the good (and totally deserved) walloping I got here. But safe to say I got my chubby little bum in gear and dusted off the meter, simultaneously increasingly my prescriptions for strips as I started to test more and more. Hurrah! I’d migrated to the land of responsibility!
Enough of the violins, let’s get to the much happier present. So no, I didn’t go to my appointment on Monday, but it was not, thankfully because I’ve reverted back to being the above moron. It was, rather underwhelmingly, purely down to monetary reasons. I’ve rambled enough in previous posts (and posts) about my recent move down south, and with the move I left behind my diabetes support at York hospital, which is where Monday’s appointment was due to take place. But a round trip in the car is a good £60, and I’d also been booked to work both Friday and Monday in TV land in London, leaving me a total of two days in the North, eight hours of which would be spent travelling to and from said destination. No can do, oh stern diabetes gods.
BUT! I’ve finally transferred my GP down here (Hurrah! More offerings from the land of responsibility!), so pretty soon the HbA1c and retinopathy appointments will come knocking at my door from Basingstoke hospital. Not such a trek. I’d also like to add that I did call the clinic and explain why I couldn’t attend.
And above all this, I KNOW that my control is ok. I’ve got my trusty meter to guide me, which is inconspicuous and girlie and fabulous, I’ve got my health, and I am finally GOOD at this diabetes thing, at last, around 99% of the time. So I may have missed my appointment, but I’ll get another one very soon. And until I do get that magic (or not so magic) HbA1c number, I 100% know that I’m at least taking responsibility. I’ve come a long way, baby.