Living with diabetes

15-06-2021

It's Diabetes Week, and this year Diabetes UK is celebrating the incredible diabetes community by sharing stories from all corners of the UK.

We catch up with our Scheduling Assistant, Jenny Roberts, who has worked for OutsideClinic for five years and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was just 12-years-old.

Hi Jenny - thanks for sharing your story with us. Can you tell us a bit more about your condition?

J: I have Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition where the pancreas no longer produces insulin. Insulin is needed to control the glucose levels in the body to stop them from going too high, so when you have diabetes, you have to have injections to replace the insulin and control your glucose levels.

How were you diagnosed with diabetes?

J: I was diagnosed when I was 12-years-old. It was quite a shock as no one else in the family had any experience with it, but we all took it in our stride. It's a case of managing it properly, or I could be very unwell. I have always just got on and dealt with it and try my best not to let it impact my life too much.

Did getting a diagnosis at a young age affect your childhood at all?

J: To be honest, it didn't affect my childhood too much because my diabetes is controlled with insulin injections, so I can still eat and drink what I like as long as I have some of my medication with it. It's also a very small injection, so most people don't even notice when I do it.

How does your condition affect your life on a day to day basis?

J: Living with diabetes means I have to be constantly aware of my glucose levels and make sure they aren't going too high or too low. I have to have snacks throughout the day and injections of insulin to keep my levels stable, so some preparation in the morning and making sure I have all I need for the day is required. It can sometimes be a struggle to constantly monitor my glucose levels and inject every day, but the good thing is that it's a great excuse to eat snacks.

What coping measures do you have in place to help you physically and mentally cope with your condition?

J: Coping physically has got better recently as I have been given a Libre sensor which is like a sticky pad on my upper arm. I can scan it with my phone, and it will tell me my glucose levels and keep track of it throughout the day, which has been so quick and easy to use. I cope pretty well mentally because I just think that there's nothing I can do to change the situation, so I might as well just get on with it as best as I can.

You are so positive, which is fantastic! Does work support you with your condition?

J: I haven't really needed any support because it rarely affects my work life. However, I know if I ever have a problem related to my diabetes, they would understand.

That's great to hear! You have a little one at home and are expecting another soon; congratulations! How does living with diabetes affect your life as a mum?

J: Thank you! Having diabetes when you're pregnant is incredibly difficult to manage. There are many risks to myself and the baby, resulting from glucose levels that are too high, so you have to be extremely strict with everything you eat and how much insulin you have. It's by far the hardest thing I've ever been through, but it's worth it, of course!

It's 100% worth it! What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed?

J: I would say it's not the end of the world. You can still lead a normal life and eat and drink what you like; you just have to make sure you compensate for it with your medication.

With it being Diabetes Awareness Week, we would like to raise awareness of the condition by sharing your story. Do you believe there is enough awareness in society?

J: There isn't enough awareness for Type 1 diabetes. Many people have no clue what it is or how the condition is managed, which can be difficult. The worst assumptions are that Type 1 diabetes is caused by being overweight or eating too much sugar, which is entirely not the case. I think more education and also maybe more representation on TV would help.

Getting your story out there is definitely a starting point for raising awareness. Thank you so much for your time Jenny and for sharing with everyone about your diabetes.

If you want more information and support for diabetes, then please visit Diabetes UK.