Something that I have been meaning to write for a long while. So here is my story. This begins 46 years ago. August 1971.
At the age of 6, my parents took myself and my younger brother (2) on holiday. We stayed in Preston with a couple who were my dads friends. I had tonsilitis so was on antibiotics and was really thirsty due to the same. Or so was presumed at the time. The people we stayed with were extremely nice and we had a brilliant holiday. For the first few days. Then the nightmare for my family began. My thirst continued during this time.
After being out with my family, we returned and I collapsed. I am presuming that an ambulance was called as I dont remember anything. I was out cold, in a serious coma. I was rushed into Ormskirk hospital and my parents were told to prepare for the worst. Blood tests were done and it was confirmed that I was in a Diabetic coma. The hospital did not know what the outcome would be as I was in an extremely serious condition. Ive been told that a priest came and said prayers with my parents. This is where a guardian angel came into my life. A nurse called Rose (Rosie) Remember that 46 years ago not a lot was known about Diabetes so prognosis then was not high.
Photo by Bill Allen (Unsplash)
Rosie sent my parents home to rest and stayed with me all night, holding my hand and praying. Over the next 48 hours I gradually started to pull out of the coma and revive. ‘A minor miracle’ one doctor said. This began my very slow recovery in hospital.
Due to the fact that I had been in a coma and my blood sugars had been so high, my body had totally dehydrated itself. My Nanna came to visit and at some time in future years, we were talking about me being in hospital. She said she had never seen anyone so ill and grey. Nanna said I looked like a little skeleton with my eyes sunk back into my head. 🙁
I had no energy at all and my feet developed really sore patches that went septic due to the amount of sugar in my blood. I was bed bound for about 3 weeks.
My dad had to good home at the end of my first week in hospital which left my Mum and brother staying with his friend. He came back at weekends bringing me water from home as the water in the hospital was horrid. (our water at home is so soft not hard) Once I was allowed out of bed I began in a wheelchair then slowly learnt to walk again, gaining confidence and energy as I went.
Time went by, September, October and I was still in hospital. They said that I had brittle diabetes, which was very hard to balance. But we were getting there. I remember Bonfire Night, November 5th. My brother was not allowed into the hospital (strict rules in the 70’s) so I had to wave at him through the hospital window. Hard times for a 6 years old when you could not go out and hug your brother.
Towards the end of November I was eventually allowed home. I was told that I would always need to be on insulin and my parents had both learnt how to do this. Great big glass syringes and needles that you had to boil and reuse. How times have changed. Rosie had been there everyday when I was in hospital and on days off had even come and kept me company. My Mum was pleased to get home as things had become a little stressful at the friends house.
I went home and had to go back a year in school due to the amount of work I had missed. So began my life as a Type 1 Diabetic. I started off on one injection a day, pig insulin. I was told that there were several things that I may not be able to do due to how insulin dependant I was. This included having children, watching where I went, controlling what I ate to the gram etc. At the age of 6 going on 7 this is not what you wanted to hear. However, my life so far has proved them wrong.
During junior school, I had an amazing Teacher called Mrs Walker. She was also a diabetic and immediately took me under her wing. Mrs Walker taught me how to control my sugars, how to do my insulin myself and how to live with what I had been diagnosed with. I remember how we both used to sit in the corridor by the coat hangers with an orange and a syringe, practising how to inject properly. When I started to inject myself Mrs Walker bought me in a huge bag of sugar free sweets and some lovely gifts as praise and reward. Mrs Atkins, the Deputy Head, was also really important during my final years at Junior School.
Then I moved to secondary school. Mr Atkins (Husband of Mrs Atkins) guided me through my secondary years. The school was brilliant and made sure that I was allowed on trips. The teachers took time out to talk to my parents about my condition, what to do if my sugars went low and to confirm what foods I shouldnt eat (Remember I am now going into my teens and rebellious years). I did things that I had been told I may not be able to do. I travelled to Germany on a student exchange. I went on adventurous trips for Geography. I went to Rome and Venice. I was allowed to go on the school cruise and travelled around Italy Greece and Turkey. My parents made sure that I was never excluded. Even to the extent that at Easter they would always buy me a sugar free easter egg from Thorntons.
When I was 14, my brother became ill and amazingly, he too was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Noone other than myself had Diabetes. No parents, grand parents or great grand parents so it was not an hereditary thing. Two Oxford University students contacted my parents and asked if they could do a study on us both. Their results showed that it was a rogue gene between our parents that had caused us both to have this.
Mum and Dad were brill. They were well versed in what to do when my brother was diagnosed. Life continued.
We went on family holidays, visited all sorts of places, did the Edinburge Tattoo about 4 times as my dad arranged trips with the Royal Mail.
I finished school and since I was more practical than intellectual, I decided to go to Techinical College. I picked a City and Guilds Course Hotel Reception and Law, as I wanted to become an Air Stewardess. I would not do this until I was 18 so for 2 years I had time to fill. This was an ideal course. It was such fun, made some brill friends and we went to London for a weekend which when you are 16, and out in the evening at clubs is a real eye opener (again remember this is 1983). Halfway through the course I was offered a job in a hotel, so I left on the understanding that I would go back for my exams. I did, failed the first time but flew through the second time as I had experience behind me. I also passed my Driving Test.
As a fun thing, I used to meet my friend after college and go Ice Skating at Solihull Rink. This is when my life changed again. The start of another chapter. One evening, a group of us were chatting when my friend had a real argument with me and went home. Left high and dry I was invited back to Dave and Kims along with Gordon. Gordon and I hit it off and over time became inseperable. In 1985, I again crossed another thing off my list that I was told I may never reach. I got married.
We both understood that having a child may be something that would never happen. I loved my husband and found out that before we were married, his Dad told me, Gordon had gone to the Library to find out about Diabetes, what he was taking on and how he could help me. His Dad said he knew I was the right one then : Made me laugh.
I transferred with my job to live near my husbands work. I worked at the Leofric for 4 years and thenstarted working at an Accountants.
6 years into our marriage I went horse riding. I became really ill afterwards and went to the Doctors. A question she asked was ‘Are you pregnant?’ I laughed and said ‘no Way!’ I was wrong. The next few months were hard. Regular hospital visits, lots of blood tests, a bleed they thought was a miscarriage and then with 7 1/2 weeks to go my waters broke. I was taken into hospital and told to have total bed rest. Gordon popped in each evening to see me and tell me about life outside. I had loads of visitors including on the Sunday my Grandad. He sat on the end of my hospital bed which then promptly collapsed. I have never laughed so much. Monday morning I woke with stomach ache. I ate my lunch including a banana. By 3pm I was in total agony. Calling the nurse I was told it was indigestion and not to worry. By 4 I was rolling around so a Doctor was called. As Gordon was walking to the ward I passed him on the way to Labour ward. Epidurals were administered and at 7.25am on Tuesday, our beautiful daughter Hannah was born. Rose was to be her second name after the nurse who had helped me through my time in hospital at 6. She was taken into SCBU and I met her the next day as could not see her due to my epidural. (This is 1991). 7 weeks early and weight 5lb 2 oz. She was perfect. Another tick off my box of things that I could not do. x x
4 years later I was told I was expecting again. Again I had a suspected miscarriage. The scan showed there was still a baby there. However at 29 weeks, Chloe Ann, our second daughter, was stillborn. I was extremely ill afterwards. Not a chapter in my life I like to talk about much but we decided that we were blessed with Hannah so would not have anymore children.
My life went on. I went back to work when Hannah was 6. I worked in Morrisons then went on to work in schools in various roles for the next 20 years. My specialism was SPecial Needs and I gained many qualifications in the same. I graduated at the age of 46 with a Certificate in Teaching and Learning Dyslexic Children.
Sadly, in 2016 and very unexpectedly, my brother died from a Major Heart Attack. It was not Diabetes related. This made me rethink my priorities in my life and make what years I have left enjoyable. I resigned my position in Education.
I am now working at home trying to build my social media following and to do things I enjoy, crafting, cooking, writing about products and being my own boss.
I am still married to Gordon, it will be 32 years this year. We have ups and downs like everyone but we have learnt that life is what you make of it. You struggle then you grow. Gordon has been so good to me over the years and we have a good life together. Our daughter is now 26 and we have two beautiful grandsons aged 9 and 5.
My Diabetes still continues to be up and down. It always will. I have had some eye issues and had laser treatment. If you ever need this do not worry. My weight has gone up but after 46 years of insulin I take each day as it comes.
My parents are exceptional people. They taught me things that have got me to where I am now. My daughter is an honour to have as a daughter. My grands are my World and my husband is my Rock.
I laugh, I cry, I moan, I get excited, I enjoy some time, I hate others but most importantly each day is a new day and one I am glad to be here. My life could have ended at 6.
Would you change anything?
So the moral of this story is if you love life enough you will fight for it. Never give up as hurdles can be got over and successes made.