Last weekend, I met a load of type one diabetics. Reading that sentence back, it sounds like kind of an unusual thing to say, I know – but it is unusual. Before last year, I’d only ever met one other (lovely!) T1 diabetic since being diagnosed myself, and that was when she spotted my Libre in the gym changing room and asked me about it. So I’ve made a bit of an effort to try and meet more of ‘us’ over the past year or so, and every time I do, I always feel really grateful and pleased that I have – and last weekend was no different.
I was joining the evening drinks part of an event called ‘TAD’ (I’ll explain in more detail below), which basically allowed me to enter a room of probably around 100 people insulin injecting or pumping, finger-stick testing, and of course chatting and drinking (equally as important) just like me – which at first was almost a bit surreal, but also really nice.
I met loadssss of people and the evening was all a little bit of a whirlwind if I’m honest (!), however thinking back on it today, one thing that I think I really took from it was how differently people manage their T1D – and how important it is to do what’s right for you.
The first girl that comes into mind I actually met around 6 months ago. We added each other on Facebook, and I remember reading a while back how she’d adopted a low-carb diet, and that it was working wonders for her. Fast forward a few months and catching up with her at TAD, the story was no different. Her HbA1c is the best it’s ever been (I think she said down to the 4 or 5’s – incredible), but most importantly she’s having fewer hypo’s, less swinging blood sugars, and felt confident and in control of her T1 – which in my opinion is awesome.
A couple of hours later, I went to grab a burger with a some other T1’s, and ended up sitting next to another pumper I’d yet to meet. Noticing I’d ordered a bunless (or ‘naked’ if I’m trying to be savvy) burger with salad (after a rough few days of blood sugar swings, this was my attempt to ditch the carbs in hope of preventing any huge up-and-down spikes), he said ‘Ahh where are your bun and chips?!’ Moaning about my ‘fed-up-ness’ of rubbish blood sugar patterns, he went on to explain his approach to managing his T1 – and, I’ll just add, how he maintains another incredible HbA1c in the 5’s.
First thing’s first – this guy doesn’t avoid carbs. He also doesn’t count carbs – he just knows his body, and has a feel for what insulin his body needs and when – which I think is really cool. For example, when ordering our meals, he pre-bolused one unit of insulin from his pump ‘just to take the edge off’ – knowing that a (delicious) brioche bun would nudge those blood sugars up quite quickly, he explained how he’d always pre-bolus a bit – but not the whole amount needed for the meal, just in case the food takes a while to arrive, or you decide not to eat it all etc. He then will continue to bolus the rest of the required insulin when his food arrives, and will add a unit here or there as necessary as the night goes on, depending on what he eats and what his body needs.
So there you have it – almost 2 polar opposite approaches to managing T1D – yet two examples of amazing control and confidence with T1D. What this made me realise is whether you decide to limit yourself to 30g carb a day – or decide to not ever carb count at all – all that really matters, is that you do what’s right for you – and that really does vary from person to person. Sure, us T1’s all have the fact that our pancreas is buggered in common – there’s no changing that. But how you want to work with that? Well that’s up to you. There’s no textbook approach to T1D (if only it was that straightforward!), or ‘right or wrong’ way to do things – it’s a completely different challenge for everyone. But if you can find an approach that makes you happy and comfortable with your T1D, then in my eyes – you’ve nailed it. I’m not sure I’m quite there yet – but after last weekend, I think I’ll have a play around to try and work out what works best for me.
TAD (‘Talking About Diabetes’) is a London based event that’s been running for 2 years now (thanks to the wonderful Partha Kar (Twitter handle @parthaskar), which features a series of inspirational speakers who live with T1D and definitely do not let it stop them. Although I wasn’t able to make it to the actual talks this year, TAD had some incredible speakers – from the amazing Roddy Riddle (who ran the 155 miles Marathon Des Sables amongst other vast feats – no biggy), to the bubbly and super talented Jen Grieves (@MissJenGrieves – her blog is great – so honest and down to earth!), to the lovely Adrian (@AdrianLong3) sharing what it is like to be diagnosed with T1D out of the blue at the age of 40 – and that’s just to mention a few of the amazing speakers.
If you’re interested, keep an eye out on their website as the talks were all filmed and should be uploaded in due course (which I’ll be watching like a hawk as I defo want to watch!)