As a type 1 diabetic I am examined on an annual basis. It’s a bit like an end-of-term report, but without the cheating. These tests are designed to assess my liver & kidney functions, weight, cholesterol and average blood glucose levels – and to detect and prevent the many occupational hazards that come with being pancreatically challenged.
When I was first summoned to the local GP for my end of term blood test, I was required to fast for ten hours prior to my appointment. This was daunting for me because I’ve never fasted before. I was conscious that I could go hypo in my sleep. There was also the added complication of shift work; which has varying affects on metabolism and sugar levels.
I worked a way around this dilemma by only taking half of my meal insulin before bed. By morning my blood levels were still high enough not to spring any surprises. I arrived at the doctors, promptly late, and presented the nurse with an early morning urine sample – it still pains me to know that I’ll be filling those little samples for the rest of my life.
A few weeks later I returned to discuss the results with my practice nurse. We had met before, but she couldn’t remember; that was until she looked at my results; apparently, I’m their best student. I was delighted to be told that my cholesterol, blood pressure and Hb1Ac were bang on target. She then examined my feet –which could have wilted a cactus.
What I was not prepared for were the concerns the nurse seemed to have about my tight diabetic control. She appeared under the assumption that I was letting my diabetes control my quality of life. I immediately jumped to my defense and argued that I keep good control of my diabetes because I know my routines and I am playing the long-game.
She gave me a suspicious gaze; like that of a wife whose husband claims he reads Playboy magazine for the cutting-edge journalistic content. I returned her gaze; like that of a husband about to tell his wife that he really reads Playboy magazine for the tits. I began telling her how much of a committed perfectionist I am by nature; that I’d gotten the hang of diabetes quite early and that I am in no way restricted by my condition.
By the second month of becoming diabetic I had perfected my own routine. I recall having a conversation with my mother during that time in which she said, “So, you’ve decided to disregard the advice that the specialists have given you and do things your own way? You are definitely my son!”
I pointed out to the nurse that if diabetes was controlling my life then I wouldn’t have started going to more concerts and other events; I wouldn’t have passed my driving test or began travelling to other countries again. I wouldn’t be enjoying a new-found appreciation for fine food or sipping Tequila Sunrise under the Cardiff sunlight; seemingly freeze-framed as the frantic rat-race unfolds around me.
I wouldn’t have started writing, or perused hobbies that have enhanced and enriched my life; changing my overall outlook; my sense of identity, my beliefs, my philosophies. I wouldn’t be the unique, balanced and grounded individual that I am today.
And with that, I clinched the argument.