In the space of six weeks, I had lost three stone and needed to use the bathroom constantly. My wife Lynn, who was heavily pregnant at the time, was worried sick. Having looked up my symptoms online, she bought me a blood testing kit which showed a high glucose reading – more than five times the normal level! Lynn told me to go to the doctors but, I didn’t go. Instead, I went to watch my favorite team who were playing at the City of Manchester Stadium. This was a mistake. My mouth was incredible dry and I had an unquenchable thirst. Half way through the game I left and went to my car for a sleep, I couldn’t understand why I was so tired.
Finally, I knew it was time to go to the doctors. He immediately said I needed to go to the hospital but me being me, i decided that rather than drive, I would cycle the distance believing that it would be more convenient. That journey nearly finished me off. Hearing that I had Type 1 diabetes was truly shocking. I didn’t even really know what diabetes was, let alone understand how a healthy guy like me could get it. I traveled the world with my cycling competitions and never came across people who had it. Even more upsetting was hearing that I wouldn’t be able to lead as active a lifestyle, given the perceived risks with exercise and T1D.
I made it my personal mission to research and learn as much as I could about T1D. And through this, I was able to challenge the historic risks associated with exercise. So I bought a treadmill and began training in the safety of garage. I was able to monitor my glucose levels over a period of time. I use the Animas Vibe Insulin Pump with Dexcom CGM technology, which basically do the work of my pancreas. I can see if my levels are going up or down, and I can constantly monitor them which stops them from getting out of control.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects up to 3.2 million people in the UK. There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 accounts for around 10% of the total number of people with diabetes, which means that in the UK there may be around 300,000 people living with type 1. Type 1 diabetes typically affects children and young adults (although I’ve met many people who were diagnosed later in life), and because of a lack of knowledge about what you can achieve whilst living with type 1 diabetes, this young group are often encouraged to limit their lifestyles, particularly in relation to sport and exercise.
With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces very little insulin or the insulin produced does not work effectively in the body. Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) occurs when the pancreas no longer produces the insulin needed to survive.
Type 1 diabetes is not currently preventable and doctors are not even sure about what causes it. Symptoms include going for a pee a lot, excessive thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue.
For me, the way I describe it is that my pancreas just retired early and as a result I now rely on my insulin pump therapy to deliver my insulin. Some people do multiple daily injections but my Animas Vibe with its integrated continuous glucose monitoring means I get a continuous dose of insulin that I can adjust to suit my lifestyle and give me the flexibility to adjust to any changes of plan that might appear in the day.