Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My Type 1 Support Group.

This week, I thought I would just give you a couple of lines about the Type 1 Support group that I am part of.

We meet every month in Ennis, Co. Clare and there are usually about 6 of us. Six is a nice number; it means we can relax a bit and really talk about what’s bothering us in our diabetic lives.

Last night, we meet in the Temple Gate Hotel and there were 4 of us. There was myself, who has had type 1 for almost 19 years, a lady who has grown up children and has type 1 for about 20 years, another lady who’s 12 year old has had type 1 for 4 years and another lady who has had type 1 for 46 years.  Even though we were from different stages of live and we were diagnosed at different ages; we all had something in common.

This group has been a huge source of strength to me as I face the everyday “challenges” in living with diabetes and also a great source of local information. Through this group I have learned about the choices I have in terms of medical care and I’ve picked up quite a few tips and techniques that others use to improve their diabetes management.

Another benefit to being part of this support group is that you don’t have to translate the lingo; you can talk about hypos, hypers, HbA1c’s, etc. without having to explain what each word means.  This makes for a very relaxed conversation.

All in all I’ve had a positive experience with my group and I would encourage others to reach out and try and find a group in your area. I know there are type 1 groups in Dublin, Cork & Sligo; Diabetes Ireland would have more information about if there are other types of diabetes support groups in your area.

I had been living with type 1 for 8 years before I met another person just like me. It was only then that I realised I didn’t have to live with this by myself and I didn’t have to feel this isolation. It was like walking into a warm room from a draughty hallway.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Diabetes and Pregnancy

This season of RTE’s OperationTransformation  has been focusing on type 2 diabetes in a big way. This is my first time to watch Operation Transformation and I find it a very interesting programme though not why you would think.

I was extremely interested in the piece about how unfit our school aged teenagers are, especially the girls. That was eye opening but when I thought about it not surprising.

However, it’s the feature on Petrice, which aired on Wednesday, 8th February, that inspired be to write this blog entry. Petrice was overweight and always figured that when she decided to start a family she would get in shape first. However, the best laid plans….. And got pregnant un-expectantly. During her pregnancy she developed gestational diabetes.

I have type 1 diabetes and had it before I started my family. My diabetes played a huge factor in deciding if I was going to have a family and really made me focus on what I had to do to prepare my body for developing a healthy baby. I had 10 years to learn as much as I could about diabetes before I started my family – imagine finding out all the scary things about diabetes and pregnancy after the fact! I felt for Petrice and how she was trying to cope with having diabetes and then think about how it was affecting her baby.

I started to think back to how I felt during both of my pregnancies. My first pregnancy went smoothly and resulted in a healthy baby (TG). It was really hard work; constant testing of blood sugars, lots of doctor’s appointments, faxing in by blood glucose diary weekly, accounting for every morsel of carbohydrate, feeding lows all the time and living in fear of the highs.

My second pregnancy happened just after our transatlantic move and my body was stressed, I was a little overweight and I had a two year old to take care of. I still put in all of the work and thankfully the result was another healthy (if not very large) baby (TG again).

Each time I was pregnant I had the same anxiety but tried to push it to the back of my mind and focus on nurturing a healthy baby. It’s amazing how this growing life makes you take better care of yourself and work twice as hard at managing your diabetes well without grumbling.

It’s like competing in a long distance race; you just want to get over the finish line. Your first question in the delivery room is not “Is it a boy or a girl?” but “Is everything where it should be and does s/he look healthy?”

Diabetes never lets you take a healthy baby for granted.