Taking back control

A few people I know like to believe they know the ins and outs of this disease, when they really don’t. But there are people within our healthcare system that really should know most of what there is to know when it comes to Diabetes.

Personally, I’ve never had a great experience with my hospital or the consultants / specialists / nurses. Now don’t get me wrong, this hospital has saved my life and I will forever be grateful for what they did for me. However, when you are visiting a clinic where the people are supposed to be specialists, it’s always worrying and kind of upsetting when you go, just to be made to wait for hours, for someone to look at a few numbers on a page and tell you everything you are doing wrong.

I understand that diabetic specialists have trained for years to learn about this disease, and I genuinely respect them for it, but it will never top living with Diabetes day in, day out, 24/7. I’ve said this before but it really is true, each diabetic is different and different things will work for them, but I’ve learnt that I prefer a little trial and error on my part rather than someone telling me what “should” work. I lost count of the amount of times I would be questioned on something I had said, as if I was making things up. They did not understand that maybe my diabetes didn’t always follow the rules, and I am almost 100% sure I was not the only one who felt this way.

There have been times when I was younger and my parents would ring the hospital for advice, the general hospital as it was normally at a time when the specialist clinic was shut, and the general nurses had no idea about Type One Diabetes. My mum once got told that they would call her back once someone had “read up on it”. Not very encouraging when you have a young unwell child.

I began my current job when I was 17, and it became harder to make hospital appointments. My work were very understanding, but the problem was within the hospital itself. I once had an appointment for 2pm so I took the afternoon off work. It was a good job I did, as I was sat in a waiting room for 2 hours before a nurse saw me for 10 minutes. It wasn’t anyone’s fault as such, they just didn’t have enough staff and they were doing their best, but it’s hard to plan an appointment, say to work that you would be back for a certain time when you could never guarantee it. Another time while I was in there, a nurse who had never spoken to me before, just skimmed over my notes, looked up at me and snorted with disgust as she told me “I was going the right way to end up blind, or with my foot chopped off”, as if that was what I was aiming for. I was 18, sat on my own in hospital, fed up and that comment not only scared the life out of me, but angered me to the point where I had to walk away.

I was constantly having to change appointments and it resulted in me being discharged and labelled “non-compliant”. I was so angry, after all I was trying my hardest, but I wasn’t risking my job for an appointment where I wouldn’t get to see the right people or I’d just be treated like some kind of idiot when I eventually did get seen.

It spurred me on to get a grip of things and look after myself better, to prove a point. Admittedly, I should have had this attitude the whole time, but this really was a turning point for me. Fast forward a couple of years and my Hba1c is the lowest it has been in for a very long time, all my other blood test results are pretty good too and that’s all down to me and my handling, not to mention the amazing support I get from my family and friends.

(Hba1c is a blood test that, to put it as simply as possible, gives an average figure of how my blood sugar levels have been over the past 3 months)

I really want to stress that I’m not just attacking nurses or the NHS, etc. I understand that a lot of health care systems are currently over worked, under staffed and not on the wage they deserve. They do the best they can do and I am grateful, but there have been times where I’ve just been treated with an ignorance or a rudeness that’s unacceptable.

I know there will be at least a few people reading this, who will feel the same, or will be experiencing the same right now. If you are, then seriously, you need to know that you will get there. I would come home from the a hospital appointment and cry for what felt like forever, convinced that I was never going to get the hang of this and I was destined to never get to grips with being diabetic.

Now, I might still have some way to go, but I’m doing better than I ever was before, and that’s down to my hard work and I really am proud of how far I’ve come.

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