The DiAthlete DiAgnosis

JDRF Lincoln

By Gavin

Diagnosis to type 1 diabetes is a tough one to take on the chin; even if you have a hard chin, the thing about this condition is that at any time it can pick it’s moment to throw punches at you. The way to handle it is by keeping your guard up: test those blood sugars regularly, always be prepared in situations and never let it get you down.

My diagnosis to type 1 diabetes was in January 2000, the turn of the new Millennium. So my DiAversary date each year is always easy to remember – I never get any presents or a cake though…

There is never a good time to get type 1 diabetes but in coming down very unwell just before the Christmas holidays in 1999,  I think that has to be up there as the worst time of the year to be living with diabetes and to not actually know about it, pre-diagnosis.

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are the need to urinate often, a strong quench of thirst, regular feelings of tiredness and also noticeable weight loss. These symptoms well and truly kicked in on me at the time. Before they came on, however, I had come down unwell with a flu virus – the ‘Millennium Bug’ it was labelled, everybody was catching it. In my household my parents and sister each came down with it, we had the whole family indoors off of work and school at one point, sick. The difference was each of my family members after a few days came back to being well again; on the other hand, I found myself worsening, suffering the above symptoms.

Of course at the time I had no idea what these symptoms meant and neither did anybody else in my family. I was constantly rushing back and forth from the kitchen sink, to get some water, to the bathroom to let it all back out! Christmas didn’t help, all the food, the carbohydrates, the sweets laying about – I might have been unwell but Christmas is Christmas, I was digging in! The more I ate, the worse I became. I was always this active, energetic child, running around everywhere putting holes in my trousers for making slide tackles on the school-playground! To be off of school for 2 weeks and then to have the 2 week Christmas holidays, it was clear I wasn’t myself.

Mother booked an appointment for the new year with the Doctor. With it being the new year and there being a virus spreading about, it took until the 7th January to actually be seen to. By this stage my condition very much worsened. I didn’t know it at the time but I was in a high risk state of what is called DKA, Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Basically, my blood sugar levels were through the roof! I was very fortunate not to have fallen into a coma.

I spent just over a week inside the Hospital, Queen Mary’s in North Kent, at first attached to a ‘drip-machine’ via my wrist to help bring my blood glucose levels down to normal. And then it was time to get used to the condition and meaning of it all. What insulin was and what my blood sugar levels should be.

There was one question on my lips that I cared about more than anything else to do with the condition at the time: COULD I STILL PLAY SPORTS!???

The answer received: “Diabetes will have a significant affect on your lifestyle, particularly in sports.”

What I needed was reassurance, some positivity, some hope. What I felt I received at the time was some guy stamping on my dreams.

I’ve been proving that guy wrong ever since…

If you have been recently diagnosed or have any questions on living with type 1 diabetes, please feel free to get in contact with Gavin: gavinc(dot)griffiths(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk or follow tips and advice on the DiAthlete Facebook Page.


 Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Sensation to urinate more than regularly
  • Frequent quench of thirst and feeling of dehydration
  • Weight loss, getting much thinner in size
  • Loss of characteristics, having mood swings and being less communicative
  • Becoming much more tired and sleepy

If these symptoms become familiar to you or you recognise them in a loved one, arrange an appointment with your local GP to have a urine sample and blood sugar levels test.