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We’ve Come A Long Way Baby…


How are we all? Good I hope… SANTA’S COMING!!!

So, in an unheard of turn of events, my diabetes has been very much behaving itself lately. I KNOW. Can it be we finally cracked it?!

Of course not.

But what I have enjoyed lately is that my diabetes has very much been in the background of an otherwise exceptionally enjoyable set of goings-on. Which is kind of how it’s supposed to be right? A little food, a few units here; a long run, less units there; inhaling some greasy chips after a night out dancing, hmmm – a couple of units and keep an eye on it in the morning. Etc etc. It’s like I’ve just been watching from afar and my diabetes has piped down and stayed on the periphery for a little while. The most wonderful thing of all about this is that I didn’t really notice. Don’t think, just do. Just live. Lovely.

(Except for the fact I currently have four different blogs in draft. Young, Fun and Writing None.)

Untillllll…. I got sick. Woe. Just like approximately 40% of the population right now, I suddenly found myself far from my finest hour, completely out of nowhere. And I know I’ve had this Type 1 nonsense for a long time now, but this little bout has been quite a learning curve. I don’t really do sick. Ever. And when I do, I’m pretty much the world’s worst sick person because sitting and festering is just no fun. I LIKE being at work, I LIKE being around people. Unfortunately people do NOT like being around a raspy, coughing shadow of a woman rapidly morphing into an unidentified creature who hacks her way through meetings and every now and then can be heard wimpering into her computer in the corner. Can’t think why.

The first inkling I had that I was getting sick was my blood sugars, natch. Same foods, same units, but suddenly my BGs were creeping up to the low teens. Hmmm. Carrying on regardless, I ignored the wheeze in my throat and carried on my plans which, on the particular weekend in question, involved returning to my old uni to give a talk to media students about getting into the industry (I know. I have no idea either).

Loughborough is a funny place for me. On one hand, I found media and fell in love with something that I’m now lucky enough to do as a career. However, as I’ve often spoken about, that particular geographical location immediately takes me back to a time when I was particularly horrendous at being a diabetic. For the best part of three years. With quite significant knock on consequences, or the very real threat of them at least. So it felt quite strange returning and wondering around the campus – to my old hall, to my old department, to the union and everywhere in between. Wonderful, but strange.

Ah look, a wide-eyed 18-year-old little fresher Jen!

2005. Ah look, a wide-eyed 18-year-old little fresher Jen!

More than anything, I was quite reassured to see how far I’d come in the responsibility status of taking care of my body. I use ‘responsibility’ lightly, given the bordering-on-ridiculous number of mishaps I find myself in. On a daily basis.  (I got stuck in TWO DIFFERENT revolving doors this week, on the same day. TWO). I go from feeling mild amusement to pity to contempt and back again. And if that’s how I feel about myself, god help the poor souls around me. So to say I ‘manage’ my diabetes is really quite ridiculous – I know from reading other diabetes blogs, and chatting to other wonderful members of the DOC that I am almost putting us diabetics to shame with my all-the-gear-but-no-idea haphazard whirlwind way of dealing with this. But that’s kind of why I’m here, telling you about it. Soz.

The reason I come out with the ‘R’ word (that was responsibility folks, before I waffled off on a tangent) is mostly down to an observation from a very wonderful friend of mine, who’d returned to Loughborough with me to also give a talk. Now, I love my job (LOVE), but hers is insane; and there is one reason, and one reason only, I can say this and defy scorn: she has a Nando’s Black Card.

Game over.

(If you’re sat there thinking ‘Nando’s What?!’ See the below. You’re very welcome.)

Annnnyyywaayyyy; the observation was thus: I nonchalantly got my diabetes-related bits out just before my talk started (noooo, not those. My blood glucose meter if you please) to test just to make sure I wasn’t going to pass out in the hour that followed while ‘delighting’ a few dozen bright-eyed media students with a talk entitled ‘Social Media and the Online Revolution’ (refer to the all-the-gear-no-idea comment above. Quite). Ashleigh took it all in and mused ‘You’re a really bad diabetic aren’t you? I don’t remember all this before’.


Two things: I firstly had to explain that with Type 1 there wasn’t a ‘really good’ or a ‘really bad’ about it – you have to test, measure and inject multiple times a day regardless. Secondly: the reason she couldn’t remember any of it was because my glucose meter lived on the kitchen windowsill for the majority of my three-year course at university, gathering dust. ACTUAL DUST. And thus, despite the fact that we lived in each other’s pockets thanks to setting up camp in the media centre and working until 5am to meet the publication deadline AND doing the same course; she’d never really witnessed me giving a shit about the disease.

Mostly because I didn’t really give a shit about the disease…

2009. Definitely not giving a shit about the disease.

2007. Definitely not giving a shit about the disease.

So you see, fast forward to 2012 and her random musings made me feel a little bit proud.

Part two of my self-titled Responsibility (yeh, we’re going for caps. And what of it?) came later in the evening, when we headed out to sample the delights of Loughborough’s bars. Delights = another loose term. Loughborough is smallll, and this is WONDERFUL for many reasons, but the choices are… limited. I have spoken many times before, brutally honestly *CRINGE*, about my e-number supplemented nights out at uni (may I reiterate that I NEVER took my insulin out on a night out. Ever.) and there were at least five of us alumni going for a ‘back to the old school’ vibe and playing out like it was 2007 again (I got THREE DOUBLES FOR TEN POUNDS PEOPLE. God help us). Apparently the first port of call for living like students again was to order a ridiculous number of the below beauties:

The Look of Love...

An emotional reunion.

May I point out that this wonderful chap is about to be betrothed.

Strawpedo was called (oh, the 2005-based lolz) and the order for five VKs was placed.

Cue my panic screech: ‘Four, just four please. I don’t want one’.

VK fans: ‘Boo, Jen what are you doing; get involved (again; uni-based chat)’.

Jen (in a rare moment of integrity): ‘I absolutely cannot drink those’.

VK fans: ‘Don’t be ridiculous’.

And so it went on. I won, eventually, but not without a few light-hearted ‘you’ve changed’ jibes.

Well yes, I probably have. But only to a point – I settled on a shot of tequila as a compromise.

And so the strawpedos came and went without passing my lips. Hurrah. Success. I feel the need for a hashtag. Ready? #smug

That’s not to say the night progressed without ‘incident’: I witnessed a student peeing against a cashpoint, I did a significant amount of somewhat questionable Irish dancing to B*Witched (whooo?) and saw a man walk into a glass door instead of walking into a takeaway.

Oh Loughborough, I missed you.

What also happened is that by 4am my voice had completely gone.  But after a long day and eventful, laughter-filled shriek-fest of a night, I assumed this was par for the course. That, and the unfortunate use of dry ice in one of bars. I didn’t realise I’d also taken a train to 1999.

The next morning however, my voice had not returned, and the two hour train journey home  was interrupted by frequent dizzy spells and hot/cold flushes that weren’t brought on by laughing entirely at the previous night’s events.

Ohhhhh nooooo. Here comes the fever.

I rolled into work on the Monday with nothing more than a pathetic wrasp of a voice, which I’m pretty sure was an improvement on my usual deafening screech (again, soz), and was presently frogmarched straight to Boots where I begrudgingly spent SEVENTEEN POUNDS on various pills, potions and lotions to help me out of my feverish haze. I’m generally fairly stubborn about reaching for the pills for anything (the irony here being that I rely on them to keep me alive); preferring to make my body stand up and fight godammit (see seven day ignorance over the seriousness of the gaping infected wounds in my feet here, of which I now have two rather ugly scars as a momento to offer me a daily reminder of my overwhelming stupidity), but said marchee in question has more of an idea of what’s good for me than I do, and thus I was not about to argue.

God bless you woman. You know who you are.

Two hours later and I was on another planet, thanks entirely to this hefty stash of goodies:

Mmm... tasty.

Mmm… tasty.

What wholly mortified me as I was searching for these treats was the insane quantities of sugar in literally every single medicine. It was quite frankly outrageous. I know Mary Poppins makes a good point – you know the one – but MY GOD did I need some serious insulin as a supplement to the pharmacy-load of medicines I awarded myself. That cannot be good. How is that the norm? That to cure ourselves of ills we feed ourselves a very dangerous very addictive man-made substance? Something is very wrong with this picture.

But then – and here I am all Devil’s Advocate – the one item I did manage to purchase sans sucre was throat lozenges, but the aspartame in those bad boys was almost worse (diabetics, you know what I’m taking about).

Rock, sugar-laden hard place plus me, coughing, spluttering and feeling faint = I want my Mum.

All that this compounded to me was that there really is no escape from the ramifications this disease has on us ‘chosen ones’ (oh, the joy). Minute, but many is how I’d put it. Every little thing, every single day, takes hold, especially it seems, just as we think we’ve sussed it. I’m as much in the dark when I’m in a complete day-in day-out routine as I am when I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. It’s a disease full of contradiction and I think that’s why it’s so hard to crack – it’s serious but not serious, life-threatening but not life-threatening, debilitating but not debilating. It doesn’t stop me doing things, but it definitely could. The only way I’ve found I can get along with it is to take it hour by hour, situation by situation, hormone by hormone. But there are definitely certain things that are more welcome in my insulin-laden life than others. And Loughborough, as much as I love you, those VKs can stay right there in 2007.

2012. Delighted by life. And Vodka Slimline Tonic.

2012. Delighted by life. And Vodka Slimline Tonic in a red cup.


One comment on “We’ve Come A Long Way Baby…

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