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My struggles as a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic (long read)

Discussion in 'Emotional and Mental Health' started by JoeCo, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. JoeCo

    JoeCo Type 1 · Member

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    I've written this to help me come to terms with what's been circulating in my head, and also to help others who may feel or experience the same feelings, particularly those who are newly diagnosed, realise that they are not alone.

    Shortly after graduating from university last summer, at the beginning of what should have been a very exciting chapter in my life, I became extremely ill and was hosptialised with DKA. The hospital experience was brutal to say the least. I think that was the most traumatic thing about it all, being in the hospital all those days yearning to just go home and cry on my own bed. To go from a relatively normal life to having to inject myself with a needle 4-5x per day was definitely my breaking point.

    But here is the shame: it took me until December to fully "recalibrate" / "return to relative normalcy" if you will. Yes, December. I didn't start looking for full-time jobs until December because before that I didn't even have the energy to put together a cover letter when all I could think about was potential future complications or whether I should take orange juice, lucozade or dextrose tablets for my next impending hypo; there's a strange decision most people will never have to ponder.

    I've since been lucky to have been invited to a few interviews, though no success so far, and I'm consistently asked by interviewers about what I've been doing all these months; it's a terrible question to have to answer, because I can't actually tell them the truth, it's too shameful. On occasions I've made up lies, "I was travelling" or "I've been very selective about where I apply"; other times I have been as close to honesty as possible and cryptically say "I was unfortunately ill for a few weeks, which set me back a while, but since then I've been searching for jobs full time", but this never seems to go down well with interviewers and I wonder if it puts them off. The feedback from my last interview was horrendous: apparently I lack dynamism. When I read that I wanted to scream. If only they knew, maybe they wouldn't have said that, maybe they'd understand why I'm a little dull these days. But they can't know, it's none of their business, and in any event not my place to expect them to even care.

    Will I find a job? I'm sure I will eventually, but that's not really my point. I guess what I'm getting at is that the feeling of just being diagnosed with a life long condition, plus the feeling of being at the mercy of others for a livelihood, and competing in the City nonetheless (not exactly a friendly place when you need a job), is eating away at my sanity, despite my best attempts to stay strong and ambitious. I have no choice but to suit up for these interviews, smile wide and put on a happy show for a panel of strangers who will eyeball me, judge me, ponder that big gap on the CV, and then most likely trash my CV in favour of someone else after I've left the room. It's a strange, oppressive feeling, as if there's literally no control over my life. It's a complete lack of freedom as dictated by a potent combination of mother nature and society. Or maybe I'm just weak. Regardless, I think the biggest challenge for me isn't controlling my blood sugars, but just coming to terms with this reality. At times it's truly frightening but I somehow manage to press on anyways.
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  2. therower

    therower Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @JoeCo . As somebody who didn't even go to university let alone graduate I'll try to keep this short and sweet.
    You're young, ambitious, well educated and type 1 diabetic.
    Only one problem is the diabetes and it's the only one that's impossible to ditch. Unfortunately at the moment YOU have DIABETES. That has to change. DIABETES needs to have YOU.
    YOU need to be the master, the controller, the person who uses diabetes to make you stronger.
    It's not easy but it can be done, there'll be blips and bad days along the way, learn to learn from these days and become even stronger.
    My philosophy ( now that's a big word for me :) ) is this.
    I don't have diabetes, it has me. And I'm a real horrible bas**rd to live with. I respect my diabetes but we live my life my way.
    27 yrs with this now and fitter,stronger and a far better person than I was prior to diagnosis.
    Honesty is one of the most powerful tools we have. Don't ever be ashamed to be diabetic. Be proud , you already know how difficult it is for you to survive, let other people now with a positive kick ass attitude.
    Next interview tell everything, one day you'll get a T1 interviewer or an interviewer who knows a T1 ( yes you aren't the only one) and he or she will know that you possess that something special and you're a fighter and a winner.
    Good luck. ( a long bloody post this time of day, I'm only on line because I woke up with low BS ) :)
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  3. Scott-C

    Scott-C Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    @JoeCo , we've all been through that why me, it's for life phase, and it still comes back to haunt us from time to time, but, believe me, we all eventually come to terms with it.

    Like @therower says, it's got to live with you: get used to the fact you've got to make a few accomodations like carrying sweets around with you, tweaking your sugars every now and then, and then just carry on as you did pre-dx.

    The way I look at it now is that my T-cells did a bit of accidental friendly-fire on a bad night on my beta cells, so a bit of my body is no longer working. So I need to help it out now. It's part of me. I don't hate it: I co-operate with it, even though it can be a bit of an unruly teenager at times.

    You say it's life long. This is going to sound a bit harsh, but it's with the best of intentions. If you had been dx'd before the 1920s when Banting and Best discovered insulin, that DKA which hospitalised you would have killed you. It still does in countries where the government is too pathetic to organise basic health care. Or at best, you'd have been put on a starvation diet with highlights such as "thrice-boiled cabbage". Sure, it's life long, but the point is, unlike pre-1920s, you're getting to live your life instead of dying.

    Read the book by Thea Cooper, Breakthrough... It tells the story of the discovery of insulin, with a bit of politics thrown in, in the shape of Charles Evan Hughes, a prominent US politician at the time, and his T1 daughter, Elizabeth. The writers found a letter by her where she writes a letter to her parents about deciding to take her first self administered shot instead of having her nurse do it. She writes that she's decided to be the "captain of her own ship". That 14 year old stepped up to the plate in days when T1s had to re-sharpen their needles, boil them, and had to more or less guess on the uncertain potency of insulin. For hypos, "the feels", she takes some molasses, "a kiss".

    Sure, it's messy, but after reading that book, I'm grateful I'm T1 now and not then. Live your life.
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  4. noblehead

    noblehead Type 1 · Guru
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    The job market is very competitive @JoeCo so don't give-up on the job search, just be open & honest about the gap in your CV as most employers will appreciate honesty.

    Good luck and try and keep a positive state of mind.
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  5. Fruitella

    Fruitella Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi, while job hunting maybe get some volunteering set up so you have current stuff on your CV. You will find employment that you really want but maybe have to get some seasonal, short term contracts first. Lots of other new grads will still be searching for full time work. And yes, I would say had unexpected health issue that is now resolved if asked. Good luck - the job with your name on is out there.
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