Type 1 Diabetes: Is it a big deal?

Type 1 Diabetes: Is it a big deal?

“It’s no big deal, they can control it so well nowadays, fifty years ago she may have died…”

A well meaning chap in the cafe said this to us today after watching my daughter who has Type 1 Diabetes inject her tummy.  I was split in two, part of me wanted to hug the man for not treating my daughter differently, for showing an interest, for not looking at the chocolate muffin on her plate and telling me she shouldn’t eat it.

But on the flip side I wanted to stomp my feet and cry, ‘ but it is a big deal, it is always, it is life changing, it is madness at times.’

Mum always said I should have gone to drama school…

The over sensitive emotional me was out in full force owing to a hypo at 2am which robbed us all of sleep.

The question of how big a deal is Twin Girl’s diabetes rolls around in my head daily.  Physically she is fine, emotionally I find her moods tie in with her sugar levels and that can be hard to parent; and some days parenting can be hard enough. It won’t kill her, with good diabetic control she won’t lose her sight or a limb. If she eats well she will live well.

So it’s not a big deal, right?


She will need a doctors note before she can drive, she will need to renew her license every three years.  When she becomes a alcohol drinking teen she will need to wear a medical bracelet to help let people know when she is hypo not legless. She may rebel in her teens and want to lose weight, she may quickly work out that if she doesn’t take insulin she can eat the entire of Tesco’s and still lose weight.

She can’t be left at a swimming class, a dance lesson, or her gymnastics club because her teachers aren’t trained to ‘care’.

So it is a big deal, right?

I don’t have any answers, I think if truth be told some days diabetes is like a bit of forgotten fruit at the back of the fridge.  It just sits there quietly causing no harm to anyone.  Other days it starts to rot and the odour demands  my attention and we have to deal with it.

It makes itself a big deal.

Since Twin girls diagnoses I have read stories of kids who starve their body of insulin in order to achieve a svelte body.  I have heard tales of teens rebelling and smoking and drinking to excess and falling into hospital owing to lack of diabetic control.

Before twin girls diabetes I read stories of kids starving themselves of food in order to achieve a svelte body and I knew of teens rebelling and smoking and drinking and ending up in hospital through lack of control.

Diabetes is a pretty big thing, but so is parenting.  I think seeing the good in everything helps your head deal with the worry.

I read a book recently where a girl who had diabetes commented…

“I find it a hassle updating my licence every three years, but on the plus side – got to update the terrible photo for free!”

There is a lot to be said for always looking on the bright side.


  1. January 30, 2013 / 7:08 am

    And with your positive, brave, clever little girl, you know she’ll cope extremely well. She’s already proved how amazing she is and I have no doubt she’ll continue to amaze you. x

  2. Trish
    January 30, 2013 / 7:22 am

    I think your feelings are totally understandable. As our children grow up we still worry about their health and safety – will they do drugs, drink heavily, get into cars with reckless pals who are driving. You have an extra worry and, you’re right, it’s a big one. Hopefully as the years move on and you all get used to the rigmarole of diabetes, the raw anxiety you feel now will ease a little. But it is a bugger!

  3. January 30, 2013 / 9:15 am

    Of course it’s a big deal. There are always going to be people worse off than oneself but it’s never helpful to have it pointed out and it’s definitely not a comfort when you’re wrestling a medical emergency at 2am.

  4. Rosie
    January 30, 2013 / 9:36 am

    Just wanted to say – I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since I was 4 (that’s over 20 years now) and I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to make sure people don’t realise it’s a big deal! It can be an utter pain to control, and the stress of appointments won’t go away – but most of the time, it doesn’t affect my day to day life in any major way. When people tut at me for eating a chocolate biscuit, I tut right back at them – as you say, eat well and you’ll live well – it works for non-diabetics too!

  5. Neil
    January 30, 2013 / 10:55 am

    Of course its a big deal!!! Its a huge fail by yer man!!! Sure there are massive improvments in medical care and everything else that goes with diabetes but its not to be underestimated. Its a long term illness that you have to deal with every day and if not then you will get into trouble. I’m just glad he didn’t say it to me… I would have given him list of things that are not a big deal!!!

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:29 pm

      I see your point, but on the flip side so may people make a huge fuss of my daughter and grumble when they see her eating chocolate it was a refreshing change to not have someone criticise

  6. January 30, 2013 / 11:59 am

    I have a very close childhood friend with diabetes and also my stepsister. It is a big deal most definitely, but they dealt with it very differently. My friend controlled it properly, didn’t play up too it, and we almost forgot she had it, apart from when she had to inject herself. Now she is an adult, I don’t think it has come up in conversation for years.
    My stepsister on the other hand rebelled against it, and drank herself silly because she wanted to be a ‘normal’ teenager, she struggled with the fact she put on weight, although she wasn’t even slightly fat, just a bit bigger than she would have liked and she just generally wanted to be ‘the girl without diabetes.’ Funnily enough, she now is absolutely fine and has it completely under control.
    I think it is a big deal and it will be a big part of your little girls life- but you sound like a family who can deal with the rough, and she sounds very brave. It doesn’t have to define her life if she doesn’t let it. Hugs to you all. xxxxxxxx

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:28 pm

      Thanks Katie x x x

  7. January 30, 2013 / 3:55 pm

    Totally agree with Middle Aged matron – it IS a big deal, and still something that has to be managed and constantly monitored (for the rest of her life). But your little girl sounds very sensible and more importantly she has the support from a woman/mother like you! X.

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:27 pm

      God knows where she got the sensible streak from x

  8. January 30, 2013 / 6:22 pm

    And you do. And will. So you’ll all be fine

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:24 pm

      Thanks x x x x

  9. January 31, 2013 / 12:29 am

    You are coping and dealing with difficult change. I guess the shock is still there. You will learnt to tuck it into your lives x

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:23 pm

      Thanks Hayley x

  10. January 31, 2013 / 8:28 pm

    I had two boyfriends that were diabetics (not at the same time). One was sensible, one really wasn’t. The POD Father’s granny and his uncle both have diabetes – they’re winning. Of course it’s a big deal but people deal with illness in different ways. You’ll all adapt and it will become the norm. As for the renewing your licence every three years, it’s alright – I did it for years (epilepsy). It’s much better than relinquishing it! Keep that chin up missy xxx

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:20 pm

      Didnt realise we had epilepsy in common, and got distracted by thought of you having two boyfriends at same time! x

  11. January 31, 2013 / 9:25 pm

    It’s hard to know what to say when people are well-meaning but put their foot in it a bit… At least you know that people aren’t going to immediately think of her as ‘different’ and make her feel self-conscious about it. My friend’s little girl has just got one of those permanent insulin pumps where you programme in what they’ve eaten (they can eat whatever they want!) and it gives them the right amount of insulin, it’s fantastic. We went to Pizza Express to celebrate and she has dough balls to start, pizza for main and dough balls to finish! Bless 🙂

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:19 pm

      We hope to get on a pump by the end of the year – i think it would be easier, in saying that she still have dough balls, pizza and chocolate pudding! x

      • February 9, 2013 / 3:14 pm

        i was 4 when i was diagnosed 40 years ago!!I have all my limbs still and have 3 non diabetic children,it is a big deal but life is wonderful despite hypos resulting in seizures,its only a couple of days and they are further apart now!It is a forgotten disability. Keep educated and stay smiling,its only part of you!

  12. February 2, 2013 / 8:28 am

    Oh Jane, it must be so hard watching twin girl go through all this, but you are an amazing mum and she will be fine.

    Big hugs, xxx

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:18 pm

      Thanks emma x x x x

  13. Diary of a premmy mum
    February 3, 2013 / 9:01 pm

    Oh I know this feeling so well. First there is the worry and then there is the worry about about the worry. Or as you put it, ‘the deal’ and how ‘bigger deal’the deal is..
    And for sure seeing the positive side helps, if you can bring yourself to do it often then even better still!!

    • northernmum
      February 4, 2013 / 10:18 pm


  14. February 7, 2013 / 12:07 pm

    It is a big deal, especially when they’re little and going through so much change physically and around them and they just want to fit in etc. I only know from my parents and a bazillion adult relatives (who are Type 2 so its slightly different because it came on in adulthood) that just the annual check ups and additional checks on everything can be annoying and worrying all at the same time, just in case its developed a bit further. But it does become a whole new normal eventually ….I hope your eventually comes very soon.

    • northernmum
      February 8, 2013 / 9:32 pm

      Thank you lovely lady x

  15. February 10, 2013 / 8:51 pm

    Molly is a lovely bright girl. She is very capable and the way she has dealt with this has been amazing. Testimony to Molly and to you. Things will get easier.
    Cross your bridges as you come to them. Keep talking to her. Tell her your fears. Keep her on side. Not all teens rebel – it might not be a bridge you have to cross.
    Molly’s life is going to be challenged by diabetes but since when did you not rise to a challenge? and frankly, I can’t believe you didn’t produce a daughter who doesn’t rise to a challenge and make it her own.

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