Today is World Diabetes Day, a cause close to our hearts here at Angels’ Share Glass.
Diabetes affects more than four million people across the UK. It hit my own family not long after I launched the firm with my father Tom Young back in 2013.
It was a busy time – life was exciting, there were new challenges and lots of interest in our small company and then boom! my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
He had always been the slightly poorly child and, looking back, he had all the signs.
He was definitely suffering from the 3 Ts - Thirst, Toilet all the time and Tiredness - but it wasn’t until a relative suggested we get him checked for diabetes that everything clicked into place.
We went home, Googled the symptoms – as you do – and instantly realised that he was Type 1.
We were so very lucky we caught it just in time because although he was very sick, he was not critical.
We had no idea what was in front of us though. We shrugged in the hospital and thought: `Oh well, he’ll be fine, he’s only diabetic!’
Oh, how we look back now and laugh at ourselves for being so naive.
Type 1 is an autoimmune condition whereby the pancreas does not produce insulin to counteract the effects of too much sugar in the blood.
The only way to solve this faulty process is to artificially inject Insulin into the bloodstream.
This may need to be done up to six times a day depending on what you eat, how you exercise and if you are anxious, tired or stressed.
Every little thing affects your blood sugars – but if you don’t have diabetes you will never notice how magic your body is at keeping itself clean.
You may get the shakes if you haven’t eaten in a while or if you’ve had too much to drink - well that tired, woozy feeling is basically how a diabetic can feel almost everyday unless they have complete control of their blood glucose level.
And this is no mean feat – especially for a young child!
When this all happened, my son was only 6 years old and I was a really busy mum, starting a new company and also looking after a very sick mother.
The stress of it all could have done me in! But it didn’t – instead my family and I took control by learning and reading as much as we could about the condition.
We educated ourselves and our son as much as we could and during that time – and subsequently - we received tremendous support from Diabetes Scotland.
Without the essential support links they provide in local areas, I am convinced that we as a family would have crumbled.
On a daily basis, we also have to educate other people about my son’s Type 1.
There are lot of common misconceptions ranging from “Oh he can’t have this or that to eat, can he?” to “Oh he’ll grow out of it” and – one of my favourites, the rather bizarre – “I hear coconut oil can cure it.” I really want to scream sometimes, but then I remind myself I too had no idea what diabetes meant before.
Since his diagnosis, my son has also experienced hypo seizures.
This is the worst part of the Type 1 condition - the opposite being DKA.
To explain, hypos are caused by the lack of any sugar in the blood while DKA means the blood is being flooded with toxic sugar. Both are life threatening and very frightening.
Every day, my son checks his blood sugar levels by pricking his little soft fingers.
He then has to remember that every time he is going to eat, run around with his pals or get too hot in the sunshine, he will need to check and administer his insulin.
It’s a pretty tough situation for a primary school pupil to have to deal with.
But we are grateful that he remains well and happy and for all the help provided by Diabetes Scotland.
The charity runs family seminars and conferences all over Scotland to educate people and provide networks for families living with Type 1 Diabetes.
Technology is advancing all the time and one day we hope there will be a cure for all types of diabetes - the same way we hope cancer, MND, dementia and many other life threatening illnesses will be cured.
Freestyle libre sensor making life a little easier.
In the meantime, we do what we can and, since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, this is a great opportunity for us to give something back by raising awareness.
For more information about diabetes, please visit the Diabetes UK website - www.diabetes.org.uk – which also has a specific Diabetes Scotland section for Scots with the condition - www.diabetes.org.uk/In_Your_Area/Scotland