A shock diagnosis

I have not written a blog post for over 2 months now and the weight feels like a ticking time bomb preparing for detonation before I am able to retrieve the words I need to save myself, another day passes and still, no words materialise. It is ironic how at times the words pour like sand in a timer, a steady flow of emotions and thoughts ready to be translated and shared, at other times there is just a void, remarkably it is always at a time when you have the most to say that somehow they fail to appear, they are lost in translation and the more you search for them the more unreachable they become.

When you start to write a blog you wonder how much of yourself to share? how much of your life to actually publicise? should you keep certain things to yourself? or do you throw caution to the wind and publish before you get a chance to have second thoughts. It would be impossible to write a blog without writing about your life in detail, your thoughts and emotions, the events that lead you to a place which make you feel compelled to write about them, after all, we are shaped by our experiences, good or bad, they become the foundations of the people we are and the people we are still to become.

A recent event in our life, turned the world as we know it upside down,  everything we knew before was taken away from us, cast aside to the shadows and we were rapidly expelled onto a new path, one we could never have expected to be on and one which we are still trying to find our feet.  This new path is called Diabetes Type 1.  My lovely, healthy husband was diagnosed with this condition a few months ago.  It came completely out of the blue, there was no contemplation time, no time to research or get used to the idea, this life-changing autoimmune condition was literally thrust upon him and our family, we did not ask for it and we so wish we could give it back.

The first step was to learn what type 1 diabetes actually was, we did not even know anything about it. The assumption being that it is similar to type 2 which I always associated with having an unhealthy lifestyle. This was misguided thinking as type 2 can be reversible and does not require insulin, being overweight is a contributory factor in developing type 2. Type 1 is not reversible, it is out of your control, it is an autoimmune condition where your immune system destroys cells in the pancreas.  My husband is not overweight, he goes to the doctors about every 5 years, normally under great duress, he exercises, eats well.  There was no rationale we could find as to how this condition just appeared in his body. It is normally contracted in early childhood, there is no genetic risk factor, the doctors do not know why he got it, nor are they interested in finding out. Their approach is a typical one, treat the symptoms, forget the cause.  They advocate not to change your lifestyle for type 1 diabetes, you are advised to eat what you want regardless of consequence, their solution to medicate more and more. Type 1 diabetes means taking insulin for life alongside measuring your blood sugars up to 6 times a day. You have to count carbohydrates in everything you eat, eating becomes less about pleasure and more about numbers and statistics, cooking is no longer the joy it was previous to diagnosis as everything inevitably has an effect on the blood sugars and that can make you feel personally responsible for being an attributor towards a high reading. It is not just the rise in blood sugars you have to contend with, it is the low blood sugars too, a symptom of taking insulin. It is a meticulous condition that has to closely controlled at all times, every area of your life, your sleep, your stress, how you exercise is affected by this incessant disease.

It is disconcerting to recognise that your life can be changed in one conversation like ours was. It is not just being told you have a lifelong disease, but from that day on you have to learn immediately to not only inject yourself with insulin every day but also how to take your blood sugar readings, causing more pain to your already battered body. You are then literally swamped with information, most that are not even relevant to you with being newly diagnosed, the bulk of it becomes more significant further down the diabetes line. The thinking behind this overload is that you now know everything, the box has been ticked and you can fly solo. There is no thought for the staggering effect this diagnosis may pose on your mental health and that inevitably it would be easier to walk you through it slowly, give you time to come to terms with your fate. The realisation rapidly hits you that you are no longer a carefree person, you carry the weight of this illness on your shoulders. Most people would falter, fall apart, feel it be unjust, lose hope in life and oneself, not my husband, he took it, he listened, he was gracious and optimistic. He got on with it, he gets on with it, notably, it made him find the vivacity in life again. When the worst happens you have nothing else to worry about when your life spirals out of your control, the only option left is to join the ride, hold on and hope for the best.

It is not surprising to hear that we decided to take an alternative approach to diabetes. Our first thoughts were ‘How do we beat this’ after all medical professionals get it wrong all the time.  A condition like diabetes comes with a high level of unpredictability, no doctor can guarantee how the body will actually react, how long your body will produce insulin, everything is based on guesswork. There is no precision or rigour to their methods, there is a distended parameter of what blood sugar levels you should be achieving.  You hear varying fragments of advice, who do you trust? The overriding message we received was, do not change your lifestyle for diabetes, most people would adhere to this, after all, you have it now what can you actually do? We thought the opposite, you have diabetes, this is the time to change your lifestyle, after all, it is a progressive condition, the more insulin you take, the more your body will need. We found it astounding that no one is even slightly concerned in how a healthy person can just contract an autoimmune condition, surely that is something to feel uneasy about, something that has to be addressed. We researched and tried to learn more about diabetes, we read as much information that we could find that is publicised detailing alternative therapies, most involving taking supplementation, we got on board and decided that we would face diabetes head on and take the approach we normally take in life which is to question everything and to leave no stone unturned.

We are only at the beginning of this journey, it has only been a few months. My husband has been a willing participator in it all. He has not allowed himself to feel sorrowful, the adversity has made him stronger and he will never know how much I admire his steely determination and enduring spirit.  I am so proud of the man he has become and we push a step forward every day. He has partaken in a consultation at an allergy clinic who specialise in autoimmune conditions and has been advised to follow a 4-day rotational diet with no fruit and limited nuts. The NHS doctor had told him to increase his insulin levels prior to this consultation, with the help of the rotational diet he has now decreased it and hopefully, that will continue to be the case. He is having blood tests analysed to try and determine what actually caused it, their approach is to treat the cause, not the symptoms. He is also undertaking a breathing and cold therapy programme to help try and heal his body by means of oxygenation, this has hugely benefited his attitude towards getting diabetes and his overall wellbeing, along with dry brushing and supplementation.  We now await to hear his blood results and antibody findings. We remain hopeful and will continue to keep fighting this condition with all that we have.

This message is for anyone fighting autoimmunity or any other disease, do not be afraid to think outside the box, after all, you have it, you have nothing else to lose. That does not mean going against conventional medicine, think of it more as a partnership between the two. Small changes can make an immeasurable difference. Do not make the assumption that it will be easy, it is not, it is laborious, but you owe it to yourself, you owe it your family, to your friends, to be the best version of yourself that you possibly can be, to live a life that is not defined by autoimmunity.  You are you, you are unique and beautiful, it is not your fault that you have been chosen to carry this, you do not carry it alone, you must own it and keep fighting back, something that you throw at it might work, it just might, always keep hope in your heart and if you manage to do this know that anything is possible, believe the unbelievable, think the unthinkable and do not be afraid to try and do not ever give up……


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