Know your type – Finding out… THE BOMB

I’m back with a slightly delayed 2nd edition of KNOW YOU’RE TYPE which is all about the start of every diabetics journey and, in my personal opinion, is the key and most important stage of Diabetes.

Hearing from a doctor that your body, for no known reason whatsoever, has decided to stop working (In the pancreas department) I found quite confusing and unsettling. I didn’t really know what to make of it to be honest. I labelled this section ‘THE BOMB’ because it does literally feels like something has landed in your life and made a big mess of things. Depending on your reaction make sure you allow yourself to react however you feel necessary. Once you’re on the correct insulin the medical experts will help explain things and give you space. Like a ‘bomb’, this kind of news does have an impact and it may take time to clean away the debris but I promise you that eventually, like most explosions the gap is filled (due to insursance or in this case assurance) with a new shiny version of what was there anyway. For me the news didn’t actually hit properly until I came home. Once I’d passed through the couple days in hospital, being regularly checked on and had some visitors come in whilst I ate ice cream and free food, being back in my normal everyday environment but not feeling normal felt strange. It was daunting to think that this was an unwanted life time sentence and not knowing what might happen to me if I give up.

That’s when I stop there and say LET YOURSELF DIGEST EVERYTHING. Whether it’s friends, family or whoever that’s around you be near people that care about you and will give you the support you need.

As a parent finding out that your Son/Daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, it can be very difficult to come to terms with. Know that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT, I was a very active child involved in a lot of Dancing and Sport as well as having a normal healthy diet. Not that I can speak first hand about this matter, being childless. As a parent you take full responsibility for what happens to your child but this condition has no exact way of choosing its patient so don’t blame yourself. It is a very normal reaction to have and know that a lot of parents would feel the same way, there are support lines and diabetes nurses on hand through Diabetes UK who are used to dealing with distressed parents so don’t ever feel alone or responsible.

People get diagnosed at different times of their lives and for different reasons. Diabetes has been studied to be associated with anything from stress to genetics to diet. Whatever the reason if you’ve got it or, if you’re reading this for the benefit of someone that has it or can’t read for themselves, then know that the reason is sort of irrelevant. You or they have the condition, it’s the moving on that counts not dwelling on the “why’s?” and the “what if’s?”. However, please know that they are joining what now statistically makes up 6% of the entire population of the United Kingdom. That’s 1 in 16 or roughly 4 million, give or take a few thousand. SO you or they are not alone!

Because of these great numbers it means that in general 9 times out of 10 if you ask a room of people if they know someone who’s diabetic there will be someone who at least has an aunty or a cousin that has it and will vaguely know what you need… in the worst case scenario. Countless times I’ve found myself needing sugar and a diabetic has been conveniently present ready with a Dextrose/Lucozade/chocolate bar in hand so don’t fret and if not a diabetic then someone will have something sweet… because… everyone loves sugar!


This might be a silly thing to say but if you’re ever low in or near a supermarket, ignore all your British instincts and don’t wait and cue to pay for the drink/food, you NEED it, health comes first! Have it asap and… obviously make sure you pay for it later. My dad once ran into a Co-op, grabbed Lucozade, and bolted out shouting “my son’s a Diabetic!” Let me tell you life can get pretty hilariously dramatic

I was diagnosed at 15 which is fairly common but I realise some people can be diagnosed from as young as a few months old, some can be born with it, mothers can develop it from giving birth (Gestational Diabetes) and some people, although much more rarely, can be diagnosed at 30+ years old! Hopefully, without giving you a list of chart information, whatever age you were diagnosed you’ll be able to take something from this whether it be from dealing with the responsibility of looking after yourself (or someone else) to what’s the best way to prepare for a night out! But … one step at a time.


Although there’s no definite reason as to why I was diagnosed I believe it was down to stress of exams at school however my Grandad was Type 2 Diabetic and diabetes is said to be likely to skip a generation so could be down to having that pancreatic weakness. Anyway, all of a sudden I started to become very tired all of the time and developed an immense thirst so was drinking anything up to 8 litres a day which consequently… put it this way I spent just as much time running and asking to go to the toilet than I did actually sat in the lessons.

This happens because the hormone that my body stopped making (Insulin) digests SUGAR. So without the hormone my blood sugar levels were rising higher and higher. The brain’s clever way of dealing with this, as it figures out what’s wrong is by telling itself that your body needs fluid, in the hope that the sugar will leave your body when you urinate… clever right? … I thought so.

Luckily as my grandad was diabetic I could use his blood glucose monitor which revealed to me that my levels were abnormally high. Which was when I was taken to the hospital and given the news… revert back to ‘THE BOMB’ section.

If you feel like you or a friend are showing these symptoms please advise them to seek medical attention because almost a million people in the UK are guessed to not know that they have the condition and the sooner you diagnose the issue the sooner you can start adjusting your life so it’s back to normal (nearly). Most people that are unaware that they have the condition end up having type 2 due to the fact that it’s a slow result of poor diet and lack of exercise. However if you’re not aware of the symptoms, as I wasn’t, it can be extremely dangerous if your sugar levels are too high and climbing as this could lead to serious consequences.

One thing I will promote and something that’s really been useful for me in moving forward is staying active and eating healthily. Diabetes has actually taught me a lot about food and nutrition so use that to your advantage, a Diabetic’s diet is actually a diet that everyone should do (3 or more meals a day, with no sugary snacks). Also every Diabetic is different so don’t stress when comparing yourself to someone else. Some of my friends take 20 units of insulin per meal whereas I still only take about 5. Everyone finds a routine that works for them as you discover things from trial and error, hence why Diabetes is very complicated to someone that doesn’t have it as it’s different for everyone!


Jonny Labey

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