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Hello Diabetes!

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 by Ben and Diabetes

So where to start? I guess the first weekend in October is the best place. I was on holiday with my wife and parents-in-law in South Tirol, Italy. We were celebrating my mother-in-law’s 60th Birthday and had rented an apartment in Kaltern. We arrived on the Friday (only about a hours drive from Innsbruck) and opened a bottle of Prosecco to start the celebrations. After a great evening of Toerggeln, folk music and dancing we went back to the apartment. Although it was late and I was tired and perhaps a bit tipsy too :-), I didn’t sleep well. I got up about 5 times during the night to go to the toilet which was very unusual for me.

In the afternoon on the Saturday, I was really thirsty but put it down to all the Speck (smoked ham) I’d been eating at lunchtime. Saturday, Sunday and Monday night was the same as Friday, up almost every hour to go to the toilet.¬† On Monday I started to feel a little weak and thought that I had a bladder infection. We decided to cut the holiday a day short and drive back to Innsbruck on the Tuesday, so that I could go to the doctors and get my “bladder infection” sorted out before work on Thursday.

We arrived back in Innsbruck on Tuesday morning and I made an appointment with the doctor at 17:00. At the doctors the assistant tested¬† my urine and blood…this is perhaps where I started to suspect something was wrong. Urine was fine but she pulled a strange face when she read the results of the blood test and walked out the room without saying anything. The doctor then came in, sat down and said I need to go to the hospital because I have diabetes.

To be honest I can’t say it was a shock because I didn’t really know much about diabetes so I didn’t know the implications of what he was saying. I remember my mum telling me a story about a friend of theirs who had diabetes and had to eat mars bars or something when he was jogging…..oh and I remembered some guy, on a soap I used to watch as a kid, that had to inject something into his body every now and again. That was my sum total of diabetes knowledge.

I drove home and thought about finishing off the meal I was cooking before I left to the doctors (pumpkin-potato curry with chunks of turkey, delicious). I got home and told my wife Sabine that I have diabetes…..from the expression on her face I gathered diabetes was not so cool. So I finished off the curry while Sabine did some research on the internet and after about 10 “ohhhs” and “ummms” I gathered the trip to the hospital was probably going to happen that evening…..just after I finished my curry!

We drove to hospital and on the way Sabine explained to me what she had read. At the hospital in Hall they ran some more tests and told me that I have type 1 diabetes and that I need to stay.

I stayed in Hospital for 4 days and left on the Saturday. As far as hospital stays go it was really quite nice. I was on information overload and had been through a real low phase on Wednesday when I learnt about exactly what it meant and started to read about all of the potential complications and implications…….blindness, amputations, average life expectancy shortened by 15 years, increased risk of heart disease and strokes, nerve damage etc etc etc. However, I resolutely decided that this wasn’t going to get the better of me. Sure, it’s important to know about the complications that can arise but only so that you know how best to prevent them. There is no point whatsoever to dwell on any of this. I have diabetes, it’s not going to go away, so I’m going to make the best of it!

Actually, what gave me inspiration while I was freaking out about losing my foot and having facial paralysis, were articles and blogs I found about people who do amazing things despite having type 1 diabetes e.g. Geri Winkler (Austrian Mountaineer – first insulin diabetic to reach the summit of Everest) and Jay Hewitt (Ironman Athlete). This was such a huge relief to me. Just to know there are people out there pushing themselves and reaching their goals despite having diabetes. I though to myself “if these guys can do it, then there’s nothing stopping me!”

So that’s one of the reasons I’m writing this blog. It helped me tremendously to read about others leading fulfilled, successful lives with diabetes. I also want to show that it’s possible and I intend to be one of these guys.