10: Not One of My Favourite Numbers

Today is the 10th day of the 10th month and could be mentioned for a number of reasons, it is 1 month and 1 day until Remembrance Day, it is 2 months until my baby brother turns 21, it is 76 days until Christmas and 83 days until 2014. It marks 3 months and 1 week since I went on an insulin pump and 80 days until I have been T1 Diabetic for 16 years.

Today also marks the 10th year since my Father’s death.


So you’ll forgive me if I’m unable to focus on much else. There’s another thing that happened to me 10 years ago… I started suffering from Diabulimia. There often seems to be a social stigma around certain conditions and disorders; mental disorders especially. This seems to be lessening in some disorders with the array of famous people coming forward and admitting to being bipolar, for instance. There’s never much said about eating disorders though.

So, I’m going to talk about an eating disorder. I have never refused to eat when hungry, nor have I binged and purged, I don’t eat to excess and I have never intentionally dieted or avoided foods in a bid to lose weight. I have / do suffer from an eating disorder though. I did not start suffering because of body image (I’m not a stick, but that has never bothered me!). I went through this because one big, traumatic and life changing event made me feel that I had only one thing I could take control of in my life. My diabetes.

I can’t remember all the details of when it started, a lot of October 2003 is in a blur, but I know it started slowly. I would get up and go to school, as I took my lunchtime injection in front of the school nurse I had no choice but to take that one, but I would skip my morning injections or my evening ones and take one long acting dose to cover the day. I started buying biscuits and chocolate with my left-over lunch money, extra food, but no extra insulin.

The first time I was in hospital because of this was 26th October 2003. It was 5 days after my Fathers funeral. It was also my older brothers 18th birthday. It was the second time I had DKA and it hit me like a tonne of bricks, I felt awful, physically and mentally, my Mother spent her eldest childs birthday at the hospital with me. I was admitted and released from hospital on the 28th October 2003. This would be the start of years of unhealthy and destructive behaviour (for my diabetes anyway).

I won’t go into details about every date I was admitted to hospital, but knowing it was my fault everytime filled me with such horrible guilt. I could see what I was putting my Mother through, but I couldn’t stop myself. I just couldn’t make myself take my injections.

I think the problem was, I felt great doing it, it was something no one else could fix, only me, and that felt good. Every few months it went too far and I ended up in hospital with DKA, but the times I managed to stop DKA, I had such a rush because I had control. In hospital, it was always blamed on infection, I was just “susceptible” to them, no one ever questioned my lack of injections. I think if they had and someone had just spoken to me about it or provided some help, I just may have stopped this sooner.

It’s difficult trying to explain how destroying your body and being deceitful can feel good, it’s almost like someone had flicked a switch in my head that stopped me caring about myself, which meant that those that cared about me were shunted to one side whilst I was giving up.

Since doing DAFNE back in 2007, I haven’t had a self-inflicted trip to hospital. I have been taking just enough insulin to keep me feeling well, and blood testing approximately 0 times a day. I have been diagnosed with Maculopathy, had laser treatment and I may possibly need more. I am fully aware that I did this to myself and no good feeling can change that.

When I decided I wanted an insulin pump, I injected and blood-tested to prove that I could handle the responsibility, I started on the pump in July 2013 and life with diabetes has never felt better.


I look at the pictures of my Dad and me and always think… Would I have suffered with Diabulimia had he lived? Probably, I don’t think it would have gone on as long or as far as it had though. Going through this and doing what I have done is not worth it, long-term it is not worth it and never will be.

Would I do this again? Possibly, bad habits are hard to break and as easy as it is with a pump, I have to tell myself to blood test and bolus all the time, if I didn’t, I know I wouldn’t.

As much as I may have let my Dad down when it’s come to my attitude with my diabetes, I’d like to think that he’d be proud of the person coming through the other side. Whilst I’m not there yet, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s beautiful.


Too Fat to Dance

One memory from when I was about 12 or 13 was during dancing, I loved dancing, it was fun and I liked a lot of the people there, I started at my Dance School doing Modern Dance, I then asked if I could do Tap Dancing and when I was about 12, I wanted to learn Ballet.

I was self conscious from the second I started.

Because I hadn’t learnt Ballet before, I was put into the Grade 1 class… Firstly, I was the eldest in my class, every other girl there was no older than 8. Instant self-awareness. Secondly, I was awful at Ballet. Ballet didn’t come as easily as Tap or Modern did, but I was determined to do well (though when you’re out-danced by 7 and 8 year olds it isn’t easy). Being the tallest kid (for someone short) and the only girl in the class with boobs wasn’t pleasant and this was only made more obvious during the dancing shows we had to do… Something I always dreaded.

I eventually was put into the Grade 2 class, not because I passed the exams, but because I had surpassed the maximum age for a Grade 1 Ballet pupil… Confidence building stuff right there! I hated that dance school so much, I always think it wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for my ballet teacher telling me, on a regular basis, that I needed to do sit ups because I had a tummy and it wasn’t good for ballet.

In not-so-many words, I was too fat to dance in her class.


So maybe it’s not so surprising that I still think I’m fat and my insulin tummy is far more than just that or that I decide I can’t dance and shy to the back of a room whenever a dancing opportunity appears. Maybe it’s not so surprising that more than 10 years later, at the age of 24, this still affects me.

A lot of people are body-conscious and a lot of people are insulted or called names, directly or indirectly, some people brush it off and ignore what was said, other people (myself included) take it to heart when they know they shouldn’t. I don’t believe that what was said to me was intended to offend or be taken so harshly, but it was. Too many people don’t seem to realise the affect they can have on someone who may already have a fragile mind. Having your best friend (at the time) tell you a few years later that she thinks she’ll stay the same size 10 and I’ll balloon to a 14 or a 16 doesn’t help either.


So, I’m leaving this one for everyone and anyone whom has had something said that has made you feel bad about yourself (personally and physically), NO ONE can make you feel inferior without your consent.

After all, I’m still a size 10-12 (UK), I have a boyfriend who loves me inside and out and  I have some wonderful (and not so wonderful) curves. So, who really cares about my insulin tummy  but me? I may still be self conscious and very body shy, but next time I’m out you may just see me run to the middle of the dance floor the next time a good song plays.

After all, you’re never too fat to dance.


Unrecognised But Oh-So-Real

This post is mainly a story, with a story within a story, so I’m sorry if I bore you to tears, however, this is important to me and maybe it’ll mean something to you too. Apologies for the length, it’s difficult to summarise a lot of this.

It’s the start of Diabetes Week, as you may (or may not) know, I am a Type 1 Diabetic, December 29th 1997 (at the age of 8) I was diagnosed with diabetes, at the time I had no clue what sort of impact this diagnosis would have on my life, I can still remember life before diabetes, before injections and before blood tests.

someone I love

The story I want to tell you began in September 2003, almost 6 years after my diagnosis, I was 14 years old and whilst I didn’t like my injections or blood tests (who does?), I tolerated them and dealt with everything as best as I could, the year had been good and bad, I had a hospital stay due to dehydration during the summers heat wave, however, I had been put in touch with JDRF UK and my family and myself were taking part in their Walk to Cure Diabetes, I had even arranged a non-uniform day at my school to raise funds.

On Friday 26th September my Father had a heart attack, I remember everything slowing down even though we had to hurry. There was a rush taking my older brother out of school (I had a teacher training day and my younger brother went to the same school my Mother worked at) and we rushed, along with a couple of my Aunts, to Guys Hospital, London. I remember waiting for hours before we could see him, it was awful, he was hooked up to every machine imaginable, unconscious and unresponsive, this wasn’t the same man who said goodbye to us all before he left for work that morning.

The next two weeks were a blur, I held the non-uniform day the following week, raising £1500 for the charity, I completed the Walk to Cure Diabetes with many, many members of my family on the following Sunday. All I remember from that is the Friday morning, 10th October at about 5am I woke up to use the bathroom, my Mother heard me and took me downstairs, my Aunts were there, I knew what was coming before my Mother opened her mouth… All I can say about that is, I felt my heart break.

From this incident, I went down an incredibly dangerous road, when I was diagnosed diabetic my Mother was warned that I would go through a ‘rebellion’ throughout my teenage years, neither of us imagined it would be as bad as it was. I suffer(ed) from Diabulimia.

Diabulimia is not a recognised medical / eating disorder, until last year I didn’t even have a name for what I was doing. Diabulimia is when a Type 1 Diabetic deliberately stops taking their insulin, usually for the purposes of weight loss. Whilst weight loss was a factor for me, my main reason was not wanting Diabetes anymore, I wanted to feel normal and like I had some control that wasn’t dictated by an injection every few hours.

After my Father passed away I starting skipping injections, I was surprised by how easy it was, I had to take my lunch time Nova Rapid as this was monitored by a school nurse, but at home, I took one Lantus dose most days (Levemir when I changed insulin) and I wrote false readings in my test book. 16 days after my Fathers passing (on my older brothers 18th birthday) I was sick, I felt awful, I couldn’t move without vomiting, I was hospitalised with DKA that day. I know what you’re thinking, was that all really worth it? Of course not! So you stopped then? Well… Unfortunately, breaking a habit / addiction isn’t that easy.

After 3 days in hospital, I was released, my sudden DKA was blamed on an infection (I got away with it…), it was over a year before my next incident. My Mother met someone and he moved in, he made her happy and none of us had a problem with him, unfortunately, I was lapsing into my old dangerous habit and on 26th December 2004 I was admitted to hospital with DKA, my Mother knew I ‘forgot’ injections and questioned whether this happened because I didn’t like her partner, I told her I had no problem with him (truth) and I must have forgotten (lie). I still feel terrible for lying to my Mother, I just couldn’t let her down, I felt dirty and disgusted with myself for having this secret, I felt that no one would understand and everyone would tell me what to do, this secret, I felt I had control over, I was sure another hospital appointment wouldn’t happen again. After 2 days I was released from hospital.

Almost 2 years went by without incident, in November 2006 I was admitted to hospital in DKA, why? Yep, you guessed it! Someone hadn’t taken their injections. For the first time I was admitted to the adult ward at my hospital, I also had a nurse who asked my consent to insert a catheter when I was delirious (something I would not have consented to), I refused the Central Line they tried to administer (fortunately, the doctor agreed that it was not necessary). I was in pain and discomfort, however, for the first time ever, I seemed to have a doctor who understood, he acknowledged just how hard everything must be for me and how teenage years were probably the worst years to be diabetic. I was certain I was going to beat my Diabulimia this time.

Exactly one week after that, I was readmitted to hospital. For once, it wasn’t self-inflicted. I had been given a bad infection because of the Catheter I would have refused (I always refuse now, I am more than capable of walking). I was back in for a few days and determined to inject and blood test and do what I needed to do.

In 2007 (my worst year), I turned 18, I went out a lot more, I had my first ‘proper’ boyfriend (SA) and my first ‘proper’ breakup, I had a lot of decisions to make about my future. I don’t drink, and never have, so alcohol was never an issue for me, but it was a stressful and dramatic year. It was also a year that really changed everything. At the start of the year, I was miserable, I was still skipping injections frequently and I couldn’t remember the last time I tested my BG. When I started going out with SA, I thought I’d found someone whom understood me and with whom I could be myself (diabetes and all). In March I was admitted to hospital for 3 days, just before my Final Major Project show at college (I still did the show, after all, the show must go on)… I had no visitors but my Mother, at the time, I wasn’t concerned. The first slap in the face came in June (although I didn’t know it until October), I was admitted to hospital for 6 days, I was staying at a (former) best friends house at the time and she was more concerned that I had vomited on her carpet, rather than the fact that I was, in fact, dying. SA came to see me the day I was admitted, mainly because he was with me at the time, as did some other friends. My best friend came to see me the day after and promptly had a go at me, telling me I needed to see a counsellor. She didn’t once ask me what was wrong… I didn’t see SA or my friend again that week, I was in the hospital for 6 days.

Luckily for me, I had a wonderful DSN who first told me of DAFNE and managed to put me on a course where someone had dropped out less than a month after being put on the waiting list. DAFNE really opened my eyes. Carb counting! Why had no one told me of this wonderful thing before? Suddenly, diabetes had this whole new appeal, sure, it may mean more injections, but it gave me a brand new freedom I had never felt before. In September 2007 I graduated from DAFNE.

The following month I broke up with SA and I realised, looking back over the years and especially at June, my best friend was no longer my best friend. I started to clean up my act as it were, I began blood testing and injecting and counting my carbs, if only that were the final end to this happy tale. I was admitted to hospital once in February 2008, for 1 day (my shortest stay).

Since February 2010 (for Norovirus), I haven’t been hospitalised. February 2008 was my last case of DKA.

bigger probs than 6mm

My battle with Diabulimia is far from over, it’s remarkable how long an addiction / eating disorder can lie under the surface. Since 2008 I have still been skipping injections, usually taking 1 dose of Levemir and 1 dose of Nova Rapid in the morning, blood testing was far and few between. In late 2010 I was diagnosed with Maculopathy (a form of Diabetic Retinopathy), I have had laser treatment for this once in 2011 and I was told last month that I will likely need another batch before the year is out, this is all because I skipped injections and spent half of my diabetic life not looking after myself.

What has really pushed me to improve is the idea of an insulin pump, I began researching when an old friend of mine was diagnosed with diabetes last year and was really keen on the idea of a pump. My research showed me just how much pump therapy had improved since it was first suggested to me many years ago. I also found out that I was unlikely to be given a pump if I couldn’t prove that I could look after myself. I did everything from November 2012, I tested my BG and made sure I injected and carb counted. I corrected as necessary and kept records. I asked my consultant about pump therapy and he recommended me in March 2013, I was approved by the pump clinic in April and I have had the approval from the CCG. I start Insulin Pump Therapy on 3rd July 2013.

I have been on a huge journey with my diabetes and with Diabulimia especially, having people in my life that want to understand is so important, my boyfriend has been so brilliant and understanding and he has looked after me when I’ve needed it and I have friends who are curious and willing to learn. Stumbling across the DOC on Twitter has been a great influence as well, finding the people who understand you and what you’re going through, some having been through it too is just amazing, I may not know any of them in person, but that doesn’t make any of them any less like a wonderful (slightly crazy) family.

don't give up you're better than that

I want to say, if any of my readers are suffering from Diabulimia, speak up, speak to friends, family, the DOC, For me having support and the feeling that you’re not actually alone may have saved me years ago. I no longer feel as though I’m letting people down. I still struggle taking all my injections, but, more than ever, I know I can beat this. 

I may have Diabulimia, but Diabulimia doesn’t have me. Not anymore.

To start things off…

I don’t want to start off with a huge about me and what particular reason there was to make me create a blog. So I will start off with a poem written by James Richard Green that I love;


Untitled Thought No. 4

Words spin like threads of wild silk,

Entwine us in worlds as white as milk.

They thrust and parry, soon we know,

Our words become our greatest foe.