So we’re five days into Diabetes Week 2012, and there’s been so much going on in the Twittersphere and beyond, which is great to see and also great to be a part of (I *might* have made a little contribution, but that is for another time). One of the main things I’ve been interested to see is the much talked-about collaboration between Diabetes UK and JDRF. Both do absolutely fantastic work for us diabetics and it’s great to see them recognise that they have a common cause. It’s rare to see charities joining forces like this and much of the diabetes online community have been reading with interest about their joint goings on leading up to Diabetes Week 2012.
So today, all was revealed under the slogan ‘Are You Type 1 Aware?’ Interesting question, and I guess to anyone who hasn’t had experience of this disease landing on their doorstep with all the subtlety of a hurricane, the answer is most probably ‘no’. And why would you? But herein lies the problem. Type 1 diabetes creeps up on you with a bunch of seemingly easily-explainable and (at first) easily-ignorable symptoms, but combined they are wholly destructive and realistically, life-threatening.
The two charities are calling for a million people to take five minutes to become Type 1 Aware by watching the heavyweight of their campaign – a beautifully shot and wonderfully written video featuring young children who have been diagnosed with Type 1, and their parents. As a diabetic it’s obvious I’m going to have an invested empathy with this kind of work, but putting all that aside – this is a bloody fantastic video. During my time as a journalist I learnt very quickly to let people tell their own story instead of telling it for them. The parents and children in the video take us through the main symptoms of Type 1 and their experiences of them, crucially in their own words. As someone who was diagnosed at eight-years-old, I found myself nodding in agreement or recognition at each and every word spoken. This video isn’t dressed up with fancy actors, ridiculous lighting, or elaborate scripts. It’s honest, it’s real and it’s 100% accurate. The way some of the parents open up about how close they came to losing their child had me in bits. Because it’s true. I fairly often wave away the seriousness of diabetes to people who ask me about it, because now it’s just part of every day life; something we could do without, but something we just have to do. Something we have to get along with as long we both shall live, amen. But jesus, this stuff is serious.
One of the most honest blogs I’ve ever written (and if you’ve read any of my posts, you’ll know it’s fair to say I don’t hold much back) was on my diagnosis, and the daunting and absolutely terrifying period that occurred in the weeks before I got my lifetime membership to the Type 1 Club. Just about old enough to remember most of it, I had absolutely no idea what was happening to me, why I was feeling the way I was, why even the simplest of every day tasks had become such a struggle, why I was suddenly so disinterested in the very things that had, up until then, made me the happiest. As an adult, with the benefit of retrospect, I have often wondered just how terrifying that time was for my parents – I’d never heard of the word ‘diabetes’ when I was diagnosed, but I really don’t think they were far off either.
BUT – I was old enough to let them know that something was very wrong, and likewise once I was introduced to the overwhelming and completely new world of insulin, injections, hypos and the like, I could verbalise how I felt at any given time. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like as a parent to go through that absolutely terrifying plunge into the unknown with a toddler who can’t speak; who can only cry with thirst or exhaustion, who doesn’t understand that the needle that makes them bleed is actually keeping them alive. Being Type 1 Aware is so massively important, and if I’ve made no sense to you whatsoever in this blog post… then let the fantastic people in the below video explain why properly; better than I ever could.
To read more about the ‘Are You Type 1 Aware?’ campaign, head here.