This blog is about a child with diabetes, who learns how to do it alone, far too early.
Its also about me as an adult and how this has affected me, for the good and the bad.
And about my day to day life, living with this disease.
The story of my diagnosis isn't an easy one to tell. It happened in a very turbulent time in my childhood. Study has shown that most IDDM (Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) diagnoses are triggered by some sort of trauma or a traumatic event in the child's life, causing an auto-immune response that tells the body to release antibodies to attack and kill off the part of the pancreas that produces the hormone Insulin.
If you don't know what type 1 diabetes is, now is the time to look it up, I don't want to bore you with too many facts at this point :)
My mother left my father a few years before i was diagnosed. My mother moved us (me, my sister and two younger brothers, as well as our step sister, the oldest, from mum's former marriage) an hour away from the family farm to live in town.
I've always tried to hide the past to protect those I love, and I am sorry if by me telling my experiences causes shame or hurt, but this is my story and I was just an innocent child, going through an extremely challenging time in my life and the fact I turned out as well as I have is a miracle. Hiding my past doesn't help those who might be in a similar situation, and this is my, if i can do it, so can you! blog.
Picture a 9 year old child, newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, living in an over populated, unkept, unorganized, mess of a house with kids and teenagers running wild (with babies) and add an alcoholic mother on heroin and a bad ass (not in a good way) step sister, her boyfriend and derelict friends who all also shoot up drugs, smoke weed, do speed, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and break the law. And lets not forget their prostitute friends. It doesn't make for the most nurturing environment at all....
The first sign that I might have been heading down the juvenile diabetes highway was during an asthma attack which hospitalized me for a few weeks. I was about 8 years old, but close to being 9 years old. The details are all a little foggy but I remember being in the kids ward, my mother was visiting and I was extremely thirsty. Id had an IV in and was getting O2 and fluids but nothing was enough. After my mother went home I fell asleep but woke up because i needed to A) go to the toilet and B) get another drink but I couldnt get out of the bed for fear that id knock over about 20 glass bottles someone had lined up along side me in bed. I know now that I was hallucinating but at the time I thought it was completely real I was trying to be as quiet as possible. I can still remember the glass bottles!
The next day I told them what had happened and they decided to test my blood sugar level.
I don't remember what the level was but I know it was higher than it should have been and the Doctor said it must have been much higher the night prior.
I was taking a course of steroids for my asthma at the time and they can cause a raise in blood sugar levels in non-diabetics so it was soon amounted to that and that was it, case closed.
Some time after this event, who knows when for sure, it could have been weeks or it could have been a month or two, I do know that I was 9 years old and it was probably around August and my health started to deteriorate, fast. I dropped weight all of a sudden, I'd been a chubby kid all through my school years (and even now... lol) so the weight loss i didn't mind but wow was I cranky. And THIRSTY, and constantly peeing! I remember the day I was diagnosed, I was so thirsty I actually started taking my drinks with me to the toilet, it was literally going in one end and out the other! My head felt like i had a tension headache filled with sand and everyone around me was nuts.
My mother was a very skilled and knowledgeable nurse before she had 5 kids, her father is an insulin dependent diabetic and her mother a type 2 so she could see, even though I was the middle child, of a large family, in a very unstable home, that some thing was wrong.
Mum took me to her fathers house so he could test my BSL (Blood sugar level). He tested on every meter he had in the house.... all the same result, HI.
Meaning my bsl was higher than the meter could read.
A normal bsl is between 4 mmol/L and 10 mmol/L, the meter stops reading at 30 mmol/L.
Mum then took me to the hospital where they tested my bsl and got a level of 36.6 mmol/L (658.8 mg/dl for my American friends) Here is an easy converter if you're curious :)
I was out of school for a few weeks trying to learn all about my disease. Learning how to test my BSLs, how to draw up and inject insulin, how to document all my readings, medications, diet and ups and downs. I learned how to recognise what a hypo is and how to treat it, how to count meal portions and more importantly, what I can and can not eat.
My mother was with me at every step of the way at this point, but that wouldn't be for long....
All the skills I learned in the first year of being diagnosed would have to help me and carry me through years of doing it all alone.
So now you know Why I'd like to blog....
But you may be wondering Who I actually am...?
Ill start with who I am now, and my consecutive blogs will be about growing up with diabetes and.... hopefully over coming some of the struggles I've be having recently.
I sort of feel as though i am writing letters to myself, like diary entries. But here goes nothing!
I am Fran Squire, up until about 6 months ago (Aug 25th 2012 to be exact) I was Fran Eykamp. So, newly married to Matt (my love) and soul mate. Living on a farm in rural NSW Australia with my two dogs Jewels and Basker, my two cats Betty and Archer (Archie) and my husbands two working sheep dogs Pip and Ray.
I am the middle child with 2 older sisters and 2 younger brothers,
who, believe it or not, all do not suffer from any of the autoimmune diseases that
I do, thankfully. I tell myself I must have been the strongest child
because I was given all the fun and expensive aliments. haha...
I am 27 years old, born on the 1st June, 1985. I was, in fact, the best birthday present my sister has ever had, stealing her 1st birthday thunder with the arrival of me, by C-Section on what was her birthday the previous year on the 1st of June 1984.
I didn't finish high school but did attend University obtaining an advanced diploma in Nursing at 25. I am currently hummming and ahhing about going back to get my bachelors degree or not... At this stage being a photographer is winning.
I love photography and would love to take photos full time, but at the moment I'm learning from the professionals, helping out with wedding photography, and seeing where that might take me.
I was diagnosed with Asthma when I was 12 months old. Which is virtually unheard of, and the disease has had me in and out of hospitals my entire life. Today though, i am safe to say, that i have not had any major asthma attacks in the past 2 years! I still take medication and suffer from asthma during exercise or when triggers hit, but overall, I am very happy to stay out of a hospital bed!
I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1996, I was 9 years old.
I bought my first pump at 19 years old, so at this point i have been pumping for 8 years.
I recently bought a continuous glucose monitor (in my 2nd week now)
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 5 years ago that I treat with medication. And I could also have polycystic ovarian syndrome (POS) We will soon find out!
So that is me, in a nut shell, I am sure you will find out more as the blogs continue, no use overloading you right now!
This is Me and my husband Matt with our dog Basker and Jewels in the back ground.
My name is Fran, I am a type 1 diabetic living in rural NSW Australia.
My up bringing was far from the norm and when you throw type 1 diabetes into the mix it can make for some interesting life stories!
From talking to other diabetics over the years, I've come to realise that what I went through as a kid and now as an adult, is rather different from what most others went through as juvenile diabetics, I've also realised that no two type 1s are the same. While we all might have the same disease, we all have different lives and other complications that all contribute to how we manage our day to day lives living with diabetes.
While some of the events in my life will sound horrible, I dont want this blog to be a sad story of my life. I want this blog to be an uplifting and motivating reminder that "You can do it". And that no matter what you might be going through, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We all have our ups and downs!
I am actually starting this blog at a time in my life where i feel a little out of control and burnt out. I am hoping that if i continue to write you will see my transformation into the healthy person I want to be.
And who knows, it may help someone in the same situation and give them hope. Life can get better, we all know living with diabetes isnt easy, but sticking together makes life a lot happier!