What was it like to be diagnosed in a pandemic? I feel like I have yet to experience what life is really like with diabetes. Since my diagnosis the UK has been in and out of lockdown so I have little to no experience with managing diabetes in public or at school/college/with a job. Sometimes worry about how I will balance life with diabetes after the pandemic, when things start to go back to normal. Currently I can focus all my attention on managing my diabetes but soon that won’t be the case. I often wonder..What is diabetes like in the ‘real world’? How do people juggle diabetes with normal life?
It all started during the first lockdown in the U.K (May 2020). At first it was nothing serious. I started to feel dizzy and was constantly tired, but within a couple of weeks my health quickly started to decline. I had lost a lot of weight and couldn’t keep any food down. I was drinking 4-5L of water a day but nothing quenched the thirst. I was In a lot of pain and my mouth and throat felt acidic like they’d been burnt. I was getting behind on my studies as my concentration was getting worse, I couldn’t focus on anything and just wanted to sleep. My doctor advised to ring an ambulance and I was taken to hospital and diagnosed with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). This is how I found out I was type 1 diabetic. It was definitely a shock but my nurses were incredibly supportive and answered any questions we had.
Hospitals in the uk currently don’t allow visitors in adult wards due to social distancing. I was lucky enough to be diagnosed 3 months before my 18th birthday so I was on the children’s ward and my mum was allowed to stay with me even at night. I felt incredibly grateful for this. I can’t imagine having to deal with diagnosis alone. Being in hospital alone can be incredibly scary and lonely (I’ve been in hospital alone since turning 18 and I’m so glad I didn’t have to deal with that during diagnosis.)
After being discharged from hospital I adjusted to life with diabetes quickly as I had no other distractions. I took a gap year from education to focus on my health as college and university aren’t the same now anyway due to covid. There are definitely many positives and negatives to this. The pandemic meant I had plenty of time to recover, rebuild my strength and learn how to manage my diabetes. I don’t have to book time off work or out of college for my many hospital appointments. But on the other hand how do I act when life goes back to normal? How do I answer people’s questions when they’re curious about what’s on my arm or why I’m injecting? What will people’s reactions be when I inject in public? How will I respond to negative comments? Sometimes diabetes can feel like a full time job in itself when I have sleepless nights of high or low blood sugar and my entire schedule is full of diabetic related appointments. So mixing this with normal life can feel daunting.
Pandemic or no pandemic, diagnosis and diabetes in general is HARD. One day our life is normal and the next it’s been completely flipped and we have to relearn how to survive. One wrong move and our blood sugar goes crazy which can feel exhausting.
Follow my diabetic journey @type1.journey where I talk about my experiences with diabetes, both positive and negative.
Hi. My name is Emilia, I’m 18 and I live in Durham, England. I have been Type 1 Diabetic for almost a year now (Diagnosed 18th May 2020) and this is my diagnosis story during the COVID-19 pandemic.