This week was my 3 year anniversary of type 1 diabetes diagnosis. It's not an occasion that many will celebrate with a cake and drinks - but it's actually one of, if not the biggest date that deserves commemoration.
Whether I wanted it or not, my life was about to take a very different direction, and everything was going to become a lot more serious than I’d ever taken it before.
Life before diabetes
As you can see from the picture above, I was not risk-averse growing up. In hindsight, I took too many but somehow managed to get out relatively unscathed... (relatively).
I travelled because I wanted to see the world, but also because I was convinced life at home was too small - too claustrophobic. The more I travelled and experienced new places, the more addicted I became to meeting new people, new cultures and this led me to my wife, to Australia.
I was healthy. I exercised regularly, and I ate healthy foods (or so I thought).
I never took life too seriously and definitely thought I was pretty indestructible. I even used to look at my parents and grandparents, believing that they were growing old gracefully, so this was inevitable for me.
Both sets of grandparents were and are still in their 90’s and there are no serious health conditions that have shortened or affected my families lives. My late grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s but that was in her mid-90’s. Little did I know that is also referred to as type 3 diabetes - characterised by insulin resistance in the brain.
My sister has an under-active thyroid. Did I give much thought to its origins as I grew up? Nope. But this is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation.
The pieces of the puzzle were coming together.
I sometimes mourn my old life, or maybe I simply mourn how I perceived my old life. A life that was limitless and without undue stress. A life that encompassed adventure and thrills, where I met amazing people with starkly different stories and backgrounds.
With disease has come a heavy weight on my shoulders. A responsibility that I couldn’t have dreamt existed. But...
When I look at my new normal life and compare who I was before diabetes. I realise that I lacked depth. I lacked true empathy and appreciation for my fellow human being. Particularly people living through hardship and with disease or disability.
I realised that what diabetes took away, it replaced with something else; something truly humbling; something I wouldn’t give up for anything.
We can still travel. We can still have adventures and go thrill-seeking. We can still do everything we want to - we just have a little more to think about.
Initially (I won’t lie) - life went from bad to worse with my wife being diagnosed with breast cancer. This insidious disease deserves no recognition or even mention, but it’s all part of life, and you must keep moving forward - regardless of its impact.
My wife showed me that under immense stress and pressure, you can not just function, but thrive. She showed me how to turn something truly horrible into an inspiration.
Diabetes, amongst other things, has brought me great clarity of purpose. I am focussed on learning and supporting diabetics to the best of my ability for the rest of my life (and I’m not just talking about type 1’s).
I am more driven now than I ever was before this disease. I am devout in my pursuit of showing the world that diabetics can live just as healthy, just as long, and just as full as any non-diabetic.
We don’t just deserve that, but we’re capable of it.
When I now think about how tough life can be, I have a photo that brings me back down to earth and gives me a heavy dose of perspective.
This photo was taken 1 year after my diagnosis and halfway through my wife's chemotherapy, plus our 3-month old puppy, Bryn.
Believe the hypo