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Entry Number Three: The Plot Thickens! (Or how my control took a dive off a cliff).
So, here comes entry number three. This will be a fun one to write. It concerns the genius of my teenage years, and a true lack of any responsibility towards my diabetes. However, before that I want to have a moan. There are tasks in life that one must do. Some are fun. Some are less so. I have just had to do one of my least favourite tasks. I have had to... to... *gasp* the suspense!!!!... I have just had to change my bike tire's inner tube. Still, only took me half an hour this time. Last time it was at least three times longer. I always seem to get a puncture just after I have forgotten how to change an inner tube. I'm so glad another tube is there to help me. YouTube to the rescue!
So, onto the subject at hand. Last time I regaled you with a grand tale of a great young lad, who never had to worry about his diabetes. My parents did all the heavy lifting with managing my condition, so things were pretty darn great. Then I went to secondary school. At this point, I was walking on air. I passed my 11 plus (despite not realising there was a back page on one of the question papers), and was going to Grammar school. That meant I could say I was one of the smart ones. I certainly thought I was. I planned how I would make friends, and enjoy being one of the big kids at big school. Secondary school was the pinnacle of existence, the peak of maturity after all. Well it was when I was 11. My diabetes was something to think about, but I had been great up to this point. And I was one of the smart ones. I was convinced it would be no problem for me at all. Secondary school was something I would take in my stride too. I never struggled with lessons at primary school, why would the next step up be any different?
Life tried to warn me not to be complacent. Oh, how reality attempted to drop its subtle hints. Three weeks before I started secondary school, Dad was taking me and my brother camping. I was looking for some walkie talkies. I fell whilst searching, breaking my arm for the second time in my life (at the time of writing I have had three arm breaks, a fractured skull, a broken nose and two broken toes. All of these were done through brute stupidity by myself). So off I went to secondary school a few weeks later, with my arm in plaster. Perhaps I should have realised then that one doesn't merely cruise through life, not having to think.
I remember the moment that my fall from diabetic grace started. It was lunchtime on the first day of school. I had eaten my lunch as usual, and everything was fine. Then, one of my new friends asked me if I wanted a sweet. I think it was an orange tic tac. This was an unknown experience for me. I decided to go for it. I told myself to live a little, once in a while. I ate it, and found that I felt fine. It was harmless, on its own. What came next was not. You see, there was a monster at my school. It pretended to be my friend, when actually it was the worst thing I could interact with. It called itself the school tuck shop. I had never seen anything like it before. Somewhere in a school that I could go and buy whatever I wanted, this was like a dream come true.
It started off really innocently. My friends would go to the tuck shop at lunch time, and I wanted to be part of the gang. I couldn't do sport at the start of term, because of my arm being in a cast, so I felt a bit left out of the social bonding experience. I asked my parents for lunch money, so I could get the odd diet coke. They consented, and I would buy myself a sugar free drink. To begin with. You see, the shop also sold packs of skittles. I loved skittles. When I was at primary school, I would ask if we could walk home instead of being driven. It was about two miles. That way, I would be allowed a pack of skittles to keep my blood sugars from going too low. Important note; I was allowed one of the 'fun size' packs that cost 10p at the time. What I started buying now was the full sized bags. Because after all, I was just a child at primary school. I was much bigger, a whole three months later, obviously. I needed more food to keep me going.
I suddenly noticed that something strange was happening. My parents were starting to look at my bloodsugar results, and say that they were going too high. At diabetic clinic, my doctor noted that my HBA1C was going higher than usual. Nothing to worry about, but not the norm. When asked if I was eating anything different, I said no. After all, I had always had the odd pack of sweets, right? Mum asked if readings got more erratic during puberty. The doctor said this could be what it was down to. I agreed. This was nothing to do with me, there was no way it was my fault. So I continued going to the tuck shop. I also realised I would have money left over if I didn't fancy a diet coke as well as a pack of skittles. Well, I wouldn't want it to go to waste. I had about the right amount for a pack of starburst as well (or were they still called Opal Fruits back then?). So now, I wasn't buying a diet coke. I was buying a pack of skittles and a pack of opal fruits/starburst. But come on. I was a growing lad! I was going through puberty! (I wasn't yet, It took me until I was 15 for my voice to break, and even longer to get any facial hair). I was running round at lunch time, I'd hate to have a hypo.
Naturally, things progressed exactly as you would expect. My HBA1C continued to rise. I was also high on sugar the entire time. I couldn't concentrate on anything. My schoolwork went to hell. I used to be top of the class at primary school. I looked forward to end of year exams, because I would ace them. Not this time. At the end of year 7, I came bottom of my class for over 60% of my subjects. I know this for a fact. At grammar school, you're a statistic, not a person. Your grades are the important thing. On our exam results, they would give you the position you came in class. I came 32nd out of 32 on a lot of subjects. Other than music and english, I bombed hard. I got 35% for Geography. I thought about how unfair it was. Obviously this still wasn't my fault.
At this point I did the sensible thing. I sought help, got my grades back on track, ate sensibly and all was fine. Oh wait, no, it wasn't quite like that. Sorry, let me rephrase. I became withdrawn from my parents and healthcare team, continued to trail behind at school, and just kept getting worse and worse. However, I pretended everything was fine. I came up with a cunning plan. Seriously, this was genius. I tested and injected myself, and had done for a few years now. My parents knew my blood sugars were high because I told them my results. So instead, I made them up. And it worked! '5.6, well done!' Mum would say. 'Things are getting back on track, I'm so pleased'. She had no reason to doubt me. I had always had good control before. She didn't see me at school, stuffing sweets into my mouth. Things got into a nightmarish status quo. every three months I would go to diabetic clinic. My HBA1C hovered around the high 7s, before inevitably finding its way into the 8s, the 9s, and finally the 10s. I think my worst was 10.8. I couldn't lie to myself all the time, and hated writing down my results. So I stopped. Then, I would have a massive panic when I went to clinic, because if I had not been writing my results down, I would get in trouble. I didn't care about my poorly controlled diabetes. Complications happened to other people. I cared that my specialist nurse would tell me off, and my Dad would shout at me when I got home. So I would 'nip to the loo' when we got to clinic, and furiously write down 3 months of forged results. No one was fooled. My DSN would ask me to look her in the eye and tell her these results were true. Unfortunately, I had become good at lying. I would glare across at her and say 'I swear hand on heart that these results are all true'. All the frustration I was feeling, every bad decision I was making, I blamed her for. If I could get her off my case, I had won in my view.
Only I wasn't stupid. Not really. Only acting like I was. I knew that I was potentially damaging myself, and I was terrified. I dragged myself into a miasma of misery. I would run to the loo five or six times a day, checking my urine for blood. I was convinced I would see it every time I did. At night, I would lie there and promise myself that I would eat sensibly the next day. Inevitably, lunch time the next day would come around, and I would cave within minutes. I started getting wild highs and plenty of hypos too. I decided that as I was eating loads, I needed loads of insulin too. I was on a twice a day regime at that point. each injection had 75% long acting, 25% short acting insulin. I think I was meant to give myself around 25 units each injection. The dial went up to 60. So I just started injecting the maximum. My blood sugars were a bouncy ball. Crash, rocket, crash, rocket, the cycle continued. My parents tried to talk to me. They tried shouting. They tried being on my side. They were the best parents anyone could ask for when it came to my diabetes. But I was my own worst enemy. There was only one acceptable thing in my view; that I be allowed to eat what I wanted, when I wanted. Anything else was unfair. Except at night, when I was in bed, worrying. Constantly worrying.
So there you have it folks! Today's post was all about how I ruined my teenage years, and sowed misery amongst my doctors and my family. And of course, a warning about the pitfalls of getting a bike puncture (I already shudder at the thought of the next time I have to change an inner tube). Next time, read about my later education years, and the start of the turnaround! Sorry it was a grim one today, but them be the facts of the matter.
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