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Entry Number 6: A grownup with a job (and a childish view of how to manage diabetes).
I'm going to break from my short lived tradition of having a moan at the beginning of my blog today. Things are just peachy! Or they would be if I ate peaches. I guess I'll go with things are just... omelettey? I do like a good omelette. Couple of eggs, bit of cheddar, some red bell pepper, you just can't go wrong. I've got a great mother, but if I needed a spare one I would choose Gwen from Gavin and Stacey. She knows how to make a good omelette.
So, I left off with me going along through university. I will never, ever look back on that time with anything but fond memories. I grew up during that time. I met the girl of my dreams, my ability as a pianist came on massively, and I made lifelong friends. I thought I had my diabetes licked too. Unfortunately, I was wrong on that count. I finished my degree in July 2008, with a 2:1 BA in Music. I was really pleased. My graduation ceremony came and went, and I wore a very nice blue graduation hat on the day. My girlfriend decided she would go back to where she grew up for a while, to live with her parents. Fear not dear readers, this was not the end of the relationship! We decided we would try the whole long distance thing for a while. I stayed in Bath, and moved in with three of my friends from my music course. Imagine if you will, the sounds that came from a house containing three pianists and a trumpet player. It was a good thing we had nice neighbours.
I realised after graduating, that I had run out of a plan. Everything in my life had led up to university. It had been a simple list. Do GCSEs, do A levels, get a degree. Now I discovered there was more to life. This was where I started a long, slow descent into the world of retail. I figured I would get a job at one of the local music shops. So did a lot of other people. Some of them managed it. I did not. So I ended up working for a cornish pasty shop instead. All day, I was surrounded by food. Most of it was the wrong type of food for a type 1 diabetic. Possibly not the greatest plan in the world. But I was in control of my diabetes, right? All would be fine! But then again...
I started having more hypos. Somehow, I avoided needing paramedics, but my housemates had to sort me out on a couple of occasions. One time we were grocery shopping, and I collapsed in the middle of Sainsbury's. Another time, I was due to start work at 10am. I was woken at 1.30pm by frantic phone calls from my boss, when my bloodsugars were 2.1. There were plenty more stories. I had a season ticket to the diabetic roller coaster. And somehow, I still managed to be in denial. The problem was, I liked hypos. Maybe subconsciously. Maybe I like to think it was subconscious, but I knew full well. Perhaps I always had. When I was little, a hypo meant that I would be allowed to eat sweets. People would make a fuss of me. A hypo was a rare occurrence back then. Now, I was scared of getting complications, but I was starving all the time. I was extremely addicted to carbohydrate, and probably had been since secondary school. If I had a hypo, it meant I could eat what I wanted. It was a very, very unhealthy way to go through life.
Despite my diabetes being a big problem, I had a good time living with my friends. I spent six months cohabiting with them. One of them was a genius. When the letting agent asked us whether we wanted to sign a six or twelve month contract on renting our house, he said let's go for six months. As it turned out, the house was horrendous. The heating broke, there were leaks, and plenty of other problems. We decided we had had quite enough of it in no time at all. And I missed my girlfriend. I would see her every three weeks or so, but it was rubbish when we had to say goodbye. She decided she wanted to come back to Bath. So in January 2009, we moved into a flat together. Once again, I made a promise to myself that I would have better control of my diabetes.
About two weeks after we moved in together, I had a big hypo. I woke up with my girlfriend trying to shove sugar into my mouth. The problem was, I didn't know who she was. I thought she was a ghost, and that she was trying to kill me. I burst into tears, and tried to force her away. Luckily she persisted and brought me out of it. Once I was back to normal, she broke down herself. It was the first time she had seen me have a proper out of it hypo. I felt awful that I had put her through that. So you might think I would change. Nope. I got firmly into the denial club, and assured myself it was a one off. Never mind about all the hypos I had when I was living with my friends. They were isolated incidents too.
Just before we moved in together, I left my job. The hours were too few, and I wanted to do something with my degree. Of course, I didn't know what that something was. So I spent six months being unemployed. I knew I didn't want to work with food again. You might think that being away from cornish pasties and the like would be good for my diabetes. Actually, it was the opposite. Without a job, I had no routine. Sometimes I would get up at 7 in the morning. Sometimes mid day. Sometimes I would be in bed at 9pm. Sometimes 5am. This was not good for anyone, let alone a type 1 diabetic. My body didn't know whether it was coming or going. I didn't find a job in music, and eventually found myself back working in the food industry. I got a new job round the corner from where I lived, in a delicatessen. I had a very nice boss, but unfortunately, I wasn't great at my job. I got on well with the customers, but I could hardly cook at all. That meant I was never in the kitchen preparing the food, which was a problem. I only had the role for about 5 months. My boss said that the financial climate was difficult, and he had to lose a member of staff. I was the logical choice. Last one in, first one out type of deal. And like I said, I wasn't really cut out for it. So another 6 months going to the job centre ensued. Less routine, more hypos, more highs.
I tried to hide my problems from my girlfriend. I knew deep down that my diabetes was not going well, but I didn't see the need to worry her. Of course, she knew something was wrong. She has since told me that she was scared to bring it up, because I would just shut the conversation down with an irritable remark. Eventually, I got a job at a local shop. It was still retail, but it wasn't food. That was in February 2010. I got a sense of routine back, and this did help my diabetes to a degree. Later that year, I also managed to find work one evening a week, as an accompanist for a choir. I figured things were really looking up for me. I had steady work, and I had a foothold in the area I wanted to go into.
Did the highs and lows go away? Nope. I was chugging insulin and sweets like there was no tomorrow. To combat hypos, I would use fruit pastilles. I bought the individual packs, because I thought it would be easier than the massive bags. Once I opened one of those, the contents would disappear quickly. However, I would get through so, so many anyway. When we did the weekly shop, I would get 10 packs of fruit pastilles. Probably, they would be gone in two days. Three tops. I have never been overweight, but i'm not sure how. I would go hypo so easily in those days. We could walk a mile into town, and that would be enough to require a pack of fruit pastilles. I lived in a scenario of go high, inject large amount, go low, have large amount of sugar. It was very trying on my girlfriend. And I was getting terrified of the longterm implications. Every time I went for an eye test or blood test, the results were coming back fine. But I wondered for how much longer?
I decided that I needed to find a solution. That was in 2012. In the next entry, learn all about my attempts to find a way to manage my diabetes properly!
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