I was diagnosed with diabetes 21 years ago. The big 2-1.
And yet, this is the first time I will actually acknowledge my diaversary.
It's not that I haven't thought about it, I've just never made it a 'celebration', per se.
But this year is different.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised this year has had a lot of 'firsts'.
This year has changed me as a person, hopefully for the better.
Feel free to just read the numbered list because this post is gonna be loooooong.
And it's probably going to mean more to me, than anyone else.
(Hopefully I'll look back on it someday)
1. Accepted for pump therapy
Earlier this year, my application to start pump therapy was successful. I never wanted a pump but after a week using a CGM, dawn phenomenon was an obvious problem. So I did it. I weighed up the pros and cons, decided it was the best thing for my body and took the leap of faith. This also spurred me to lose two stone before starting on a pump.
2. Attended DAFNE course
The DAFNE course is run through clinics to help people with diabetes learn more about carb counting, insulin adjustment and lifestyle management. I'm actually ashamed to say I'd refused this course a few times in the past. I know people now who are eager to do it and haven't had the chance.
It's a great opportunity to learn new things but most of all - you get time to talk to other diabetics and you also get a lot of time with your diabetic team. (Well, I did because they were the ones who run the course). This was actually the first time (in a very long time) I'd spoke to another T1D in person.
3. Visited Disneyland Paris
4. I started a blog!
Yep, I started a blog about living with diabetes. One which, I must be honest, I wish I had more time to run. I may not post much but I'd like to think what I do post is useful. If nothing else, it's more like a diary where I can unload all these thoughts and feelings.
I think this is the point I started to change.
I became more open about my life, to others and to myself.
5. Fighting burnout
Just like diabetes, my mind also has highs and lows. Mental health is a big part of living with any illness or disability and it took me a while to realise that. And that it's okay to feel that way. And that there are people around you who can help.
6. Snail Mail Club
In June, I signed up to Beyond Type 1's 'Snail Mail'. This is a free (or donatable) Penpal service, where you get matched up with another diabetic in the world.
My PenPal is Michelle, she lives in Canada and we're the same age. Penpal's may seem like a thing of the past. You're both on Twitter, Instagram, you both have blogs? Why bother?
Well... there's something unique about it, for me anyway. Michelle is my first and only penpal. We've sent mail back and forth, gifts included and I believe this is the start of a beautiful friendship.
7. Advanced Omnipod Course
I learned a lot that day. Firstly, a tonne of information about the pump I was yet to even look at. And secondly, by talking to PWD already on the Omnipod pump. I had certain expectations in my head and it turns out some of these people did too. From their stories, I could almost anticipate what changes I'd need to prepare for.
8. Started pump therapy
And finally, the day came. I started on pump therapy! I've blogged some of my experience so far and will do more very, very soon. MDI to Omnipod blog's.
9. Started using Freestyle Libre
Without a doubt, using the Freestyle Libre has changed my life. Having the Omnipod and Libre together is great. Without the Libre, I find it too easy to ignore my BG. So with it, and the pump, I have more opportunites to correct my levels. I won't ramble on and make this post even longer, I have a blog about the Libre, here.
10. My Nan passed away
My lovely grandma passed away, literally four days after I started on pump therapy. At the time, I wrote a weird blog about it. You can read here but this is a main quote I took from it...
"So, four days in to this massive life change of mine, my life changed again."
And the post itself is titled 'diabetes doesn't stop for anything'. We all know diabetes is a '24/7 - every day of the year' jobby but these two things hit me like nothing I'd ever experienced before, in my life. And I (somehow) got myself through it.
11. The Beyond Type 1 app
12. First pod expiration
13. Paragliding for JDRF
14. Gaining confidence
In Ölüdeniz, I noticed a lady in the pool wearing a Freestyle Libre and I started talking to her. That may not sound like a big deal but let me tell you, I am a nervous, shy, generally uncomfortable person, so it was kind of a big deal.
That is something I would neeeever usually do, which I wouldn't think twice about, now. Here's to growing confidence.
15. I met Hey Kaleido!
I then got the chance to meet them. They were doing a market research study, sorta thing. They came to where I work , I hired a boardroom and we got on with it... I wrote a blog about it, here.
Again with the confidence, this was starting to be 'the new me', the me who would willingly talk to strangers and arrange meetings and openly talk about diabetes.
16. Struggling with Necrobiosis
Necrobiosis has a big impact on my life, it's probably the thing I get most upset about and struggle with. I have a very open blog about it, which I think is my favourite post.
17. Taking a break
And then I was thrown in to a teepee, with my best pals, in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden, ten tonne was lifted off my shoulders. And the importance of taking a break hit me like a sack of potatoes. Down time is necessary.
18. Volunteering for JDRF
Standing outside Drayton Manor, where this JDRF event was taking place, my mom called me to make sure I was okay. As mentioned before with my lack of confidence, I don't think she could believe I was doing this.
I've never been one for human interaction and here I was in the deep end. I didn't know a single sausage (or person) and I was about to spend the night fundraising for JDRF. I mean.. WHAT?! Helllooooo 'new' Lauren.
The Onederland event was great, blog here.
19. Attended the Discovery Day
I was particularly blown away by John Fossey and his current research. It's always exciting to hear about new things and again, meet other diabetics.
20. Saw the Northen Lights
We took the coach to the middle of nowhere, lay on some spongey grass looking at the clear dark sky, thousands of stars, constellations, in fact... the Milky Way! That was beautiful enough. At that point, I remember thinking 'y'know what, even if we don't see the lights tonight... this is memorable enough'.
I was completely content with life, not a worry in the world and then the lights popped out to say hello. 10/10, want to experience again... immediately.
21. My first, 21st Diaversary
I'm not the same person I was this time last year, I'm stronger.
And with every year of diabetes, I will continue to get stronger.
(Albeit with struggles along the way)
Happy 21st Diaversay, to me.
Next hurdle is that 50 year medal... I'm coming for you!