This weeks post is from Kieran Flanagan who I met at Thriveabetes 2015, I didn't know him then, when he leaned over and jokingly told me not to get a swelled head. :-O It was only in the weeks after when he contacted me about how to set up a type 1 diabetes support group in Galway for adults, that I came to know him a little. Kieran's guest post is about not ignoring when type 1 diabetes becomes more of a struggle, that it's ok to not feel ok but that feeling not ok should only be temporary.
Kieran has lived with type 1 diabetes for 21 years, he's just two years younger that me - diabetes years that is. Today though, Kieran is a member of our diabetes online community who needs it more than ever to keep him on his journey with diabetes. And we know that he is not alone. Out of the blue Kieran emailed these words to me and I felt they needed to be shared. We tend to over accentuate the fact that diabetes doesn't stop us from doing anything but the truth is, sometimes it does put a spanner in the works and talking about it is always good.
So in Kieran's words, here is his story;
OK here goes nothing.
I took part in a small group discussion at Thriveabetes 2016 about living with diabetes complications and I’ve decided to write about what I’ve been going through these last few years in my life with type 1 diabetes.
I’m not going to start from the beginning as I’m sure being diagnosed was troublesome for us all. My real trouble started after my twins were born three years ago. Everything just got too much for me; trying to balance work, sleep, diabetes and doing my bit around the house. I work long hours; 14 hour days but I’m off for 3 days a week, so just managing my diabetes with work was tough alone. But just after the babies came along I hit a wall in my life and I didn’t think I was any good to anyone. I was deeply depressed.
It took me a long time to understand what was wrong with me and it didn’t make any sense until one visit to the clinic and where my consultant and his words changed a lot of things for me. His words were “How are you feeling and don’t say fine?” That was all it took, I spilled the whole lot out; from feeling crap one day to feeling on top of the world the next. I believe only for my consultant and my family, I wouldn’t be here at all today.
I went to counselling for 18 months and got the help I needed and learned so much about myself and others around me. My counsellor didn't know anything about type 1 diabetes but they didn't need to. Diabetes was just the sideshow of what was really going on but that's what was suffering the most. That was about two years ago. And everything seemed to be back on track. But then, just when all seemed rosy, I was hit again, this time with a diabetes complication. This time I think it’s bigger.
My kidneys are failing.
I was told 6 months ago that I’m heading for a transplant in 2 or 3 years but, if I’m honest, I think I’m looking at one a little bit sooner. And my a:c ratio is one point away from putting me one the transplant list. The irony is that my HbA1c has shown a sharp drop in last 6 months. After I changed my lifestyle completely to try lengthen the time to a transplant. But it seems my a:c is doing the opposite.
I will never know if those couple of years where I was struggling to manage my diabetes are the cause of my kidney failure but my gut tells me that that period wasn't long enough to do all the damage it has done. It doesn't make sense how I got here so fast.
I know I’ve a huge battle on my hands in the coming years. . I don’t know if this will make sense to any of you but if I can help one person out who is like me, who feels like they are the only one living with diabetes complications feel less alone then I will tell all. I hope I can. I have two messages for everyone living with diabetes. If diabetes gets you down, and it probably will at some point, Please talk to someone! Or if you’re pissed off with it, just don’t ignore it!. It doesn’t go away. And talking about it can only help. If that has to be a counsellor then remember that they are people just like us, except they don't judge and they are better equipped to say the right thing.
Thank you Kieran for your courage. And remember if you are struggling with your diabetes or anything - find someone to talk to.