Aileen O’Reilly is a journalist who can be found often in the pages of the Irish Examiner, and quite often shares her diabetes story there. It was actually when I came across this piece, “Putting it all on the table - Diabetes, eating disorder, depression, cancer” that I was moved to reach out to her to tell her about the benefits of Thriveabetes. I love her shot from the heart writing and her fascinating posts on Facebook.
Aileen diabetes story started 30 years ago at age 17 years. In her career, she started out as a music journalist and is now freelance but I think you will find out much more about Aileen’s career and health as well as some intriguing stories in this podcast she did with Stephen Naughton’s “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Podcast series.
In this post she shares a recent experience where she had to cancel a holiday to take care of some diabetes “crap” and her positive attitude in spite of it causes me to have huge admiration for her and I desperately hope that we can meet in real life on my next trip to Dublin.
Without further ado, and I promise you it’s a wonderful read. Introducing Aileen O’Reilly:
Diabetes Can, Sometimes, Get in the Way but It Doesn’t have to Stop You
Aaaaahh.... how life happens when you're blithely making other far more exciting plans...
Right now I'm supposed to be soaking up the sun on a 10 day travel writing trip to Pattaya in Thailand - my case was packed with my short-shorts, bikinis, sun dresses and sandals, I had my ticket, I was dreaming of beach parties, snorkeling and trips around 5 star resorts....
Instead I'm sitting in a hospital bed in my PJs in Tallaght-fornia (Tallaght hospital), minus my passport and factor 30 with my left leg elevated after getting a sudden foot infection and having (yet another) toe amputated!
And yet I still have quite a big smile on my face.... when you're probably naturally assuming I should be traumatised and just more than a little bit peeved
Not at all.
If I'm honest I'm just glad I had the foresight to cancel the trip at the last minute when my foot didn't feel that great and hot-foot it (pardon the pun) over to the hospital where I was told by my vascular surgeon that I'd be permanently separated from the offending bulbous red toe the next morning.
Shocking as it sounds this, unfortunately, can be the not-so-fun side of type 1 diabetes and the result of long term nerve damage to your extremities. At 47 I've had the condition for well over 30 years and for many of those years I didn't mind it as I should have.
Editor’s Note: I asked Aileen to expand a bit more on why she says she didn’t mind herself as she should have and she replied that in her 20’s and 30’s she didn't take her insulin or do any blood sugar testing. My response was that it’s not unusual that people with diabetes, especially type 1, to struggle with denial, anger, acceptance and grief around dealing with our diagnosis and that 20 years ago we didn’t know that this was a serious psychological issue and it’s only being explored in recent years.
These says I am more engaged in my own health care but problems with my feet can still arise out of the blue and rapidly escalate.
A small blister between two of my small toes was the latest issue - it became an ulcer, was treated successfully with antibiotics but suddenly became a deep rooted infection that got into the bone all in the space of a week.
So why am I so cheerful?
Is it just that I'm still high after the anaesthetic? Or am I just one of those really irritating impossibly cheerful glass-half-full people regardless of the blatantly awful situation?
Actually, no. I'm really not.
The fact is that while the toe may be gone - the foot is once again healthy and once again I get to walk away from the problem WITH 2 feet.
So yeah..... forgive me if I'm kind of relieved and smiling.
Life has thrown me quite a few curve-balls in the past few years - cancer, depression, eating disorders and yet right now, despite the small matter of losing yet another toe, I can cheerfully say that my life is better than it has been in a long time.
Chances are, if I'd ignored this latest foot problem (as I was sorely tempted to with the prospect of this trip to paradise looming) "you'd have lost a lot more than the toe" the lovely nurse minding me calmly told me this evening as I was happily munching my post surgical tea and toast.
I firmly believe that life is all about what you make of it and as I lie here in my hospital bed just a few hours after surgery I'm very very thankful that I made the right decision and will therefore be back travelling very soon on two feet - not the prettiest ones maybe but that's not enough to keep me from wearing my sparkly sandals on my "temporarily postponed" Thai adventures!
Thank you Aileen for sharing some of your diabetes story with us. And watch out for her articles in Newspapers near you ;-)
Here are some of her already published articles that I came across:
Why we talk about diabetes complications
Because not talking creates a subtle stigma around complications but we also want to challenge healthcare professionals to change the language they use when communicating with people living with diabetes.
If you’ve been affected by diabetes complications, i invite you to join the #DiabetesComplicationsTalk Closed FaceBook group where you can share your experiences and learn how to increase knowledge and awareness on diabetes complications.