Tomorrow my daughter’s diabetes will be four years old.
13 days before Laura’s fourth birthday, on 10th May 2007, I took her to the doctor’s, thinking she had a minor infection. My worst fear was that we’d come away with a course of antibiotics. I wasn’t looking forward to having to make her take a course of tablets. If only we’d got off that lightly!
Instead, we were immediately admitted to hospital as an emergency. The diagnosis: Type 1 diabetes.
“Are you in a fit state to drive?” said the GP as I sobbed silently behind Laura’s back. “If not, I’ll call an ambulance and we’ll blue-light you there.”
Neither of us was being over-dramatic. Without treatment, Laura could have become critically ill within hours – and dead before she could turn 5.
Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes can strike at any age. My husband Gordon was diagnosed in his 40s. It strikes at random and without cause. It’s not lifestyle related. It’s no-one’s fault.
It’s a death sentence if you don’t take your insulin. And even if you do, it’s a life sentence, because you have to keep taking insulin, every day, for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, you can’t take insulin as a tablet – it gets broken down by the digestive system before it can get into your blood. So you have to have it administered by injection (typically 4 jabs a day) or via a pump that is permanently attached to you via a canula, 24/7. And you need many blood tests every day, pricking your finger to get a sample, to check that your blood sugar doesn’t go too low (causing horrible short-term hypos) or too high (risking nastly long-term complications). It’s no fun at any age.
We’re lucky: we live in a country with a National Health Service and so Laura and Gordon are kept alive. In many developing countries, diabetes is still be a death sentence.
But there is hope: active research programmes run by the JDRF and other international organisations are on the verge of finding better ways of managing diabetes. They seek easier means of delivering insulin, less invasive ways of monitoring blood sugar, therapies to reduce the long-term health risks. One day, with enough funding, they may be able to prevent and even cure it.
On Sunday 15th May, 8 days before my daughter turns 8, I will be running the Bristol 10K race, raising money for research into a cure. £60 will pay for one hour’s laboratory research by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I’m hoping to raise enough to pay for a whole day’s research: £480.
With enough funds, the day will eventually dawn when Juvenile Diabetes is cured. Please help me hasten the advent of that day. Click here to donate whatever you can spare. No amount is too small. Thank you.