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Shiba Park: Type 1 has been an emotional curve

Shiba Park is one of our forum members who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in his forties. In our latest Meet Your Diabetes Family, Shiba Park, as he’s known on the forum, talks about how his diabetes has been an emotional curve.

After clearing up uncertainty over his type of diabetes, he has found acceptance of his diabetes and talks about the part the Diabetes Forum has played in that.

  1. What is your diagnosis and when were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three and a half years ago.

  1. How much did you know about type 1 diabetes before being diagnosed?

Not a lot really, I’d not really thought about it before being diagnosed but I’d recognised the symptoms.

  1. How do you manage your type 1 diabetes?

I use an insulin pump.

  1. What support have you received since being diagnosed?

From the professionals, not a lot, although I didn’t feel like I needed much medical support. I got a book on the subject recommended on the forum which has been helpful. My family have also been my main source of support.

  1. When did you join the Diabetes.co.uk forum?

Around four to five months after being diagnosed.

  1. What were your first thoughts when joining the forum?

I’m not very sure, I felt I needed something and there was no one to talk to about it and the Diabetes.co.uk forum in particular made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

  1. How has the forum helped you with managing your diabetes?

My story is a bit different as I’m extremely sensitive to insulin. I’ve had medical professionals ask me ‘how diabetic are you?’. At diagnosis, I was a classic type 1 clinical presentation, they assumed I was type 2 because of my age (I’m in my mid 40s) despite the fact I had a BMI of 16 and was losing weight very rapidly. I knew I didn’t have type 2 but I still wasn’t sure what I had.

Discovering the forum has made me realise that there are others like me and that I’m not an oddball. It’s helped me to feel at peace with type 1 and get to the point of acceptance.

  1. What’s your favourite thing about the forum? Any favourite threads for example?

Not really, I usually go on lots of different threads, I like to learn about the different diabetes types.

  1. What advice would you give to someone who’s just been diagnosed with type 1?

Go and buy the book ‘Think Like a Pancreas’ when newly diagnosed. I found it a lot easier to read than Dr Richard Bernstein’s book, I didn’t get on with that as much.

Also, don’t keep it quiet, let other people know so they can be there for you. I have a friend with type 1 who didn’t want to tell anyone. I agree that support can be a double-edged sword sometimes, I get a lot of comments off people telling me I’m looking well, and it makes me think ‘well, have I not been looking well?’.

It’s been an emotional curve but I’m getting better and better. Its been a lot of work for my wife but my family have been great, my son did a lot of Googling and he’s become more aware about looking after his health.

  1. What advice would you give to the family of someone who’s just been diagnosed to help support them?

Don’t overthink it, don’t be too anxious. It’s not their problem, it’s my problem and I own it. It’s not their responsibility. Don’t ignore it, but don’t be too pushy. My wife was worried about me having hypos at the start and while I was, I learned to manage them. Have faith, it’s a big change but I feel I can do everything I’ve ever been able to do. It’s not stopped me from doing anything. If you want to be supportive you could also read a book about it.

I think its important to remember that type 1 isn’t just something that can be diagnosed in childhood. I also think people need to challenge their GP if they think their diagnosis isn’t right. My wife’s cousin is a GP and she gets it but her husband (also a GP!) still doesn’t think its possible that you can be diagnosed with type 1 when you’re older. So, don’t be afraid to push for a second opinion.

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