… there are loads of things I wouldn’t have done.
My pancreas walked off the job almost 28 years ago now. We won’t linger on how rude I think it was to just up sticks and leave me in the lurch, we’ve been there before. I am quite conscious that the loss of function of that small, seemingly insignificant organ could easily have ruined my life. But I’m not one to be beaten by a pancreas that’s got itself into a bit of a huff. Oh no, I see your failure pancreas and I challenge it. I say that you gave me opportunities I would never have had if you’d have been quietly working away in the background all these years.
I’ve always worked on the principle that if diabetes is going to be there, I’m going to make it work for me so here’s my list of things I wouldn’t have done if my pancreas worked properly:
- I got a Blue Peter badge. For the non-UK folks, Blue Peter is a kid’s TV programme and a Blue Peter badge is what you get if you’ve appeared on the show. These are highly coveted treasures (I may be exaggerating slightly here). When I was 14 they filmed me at school and at home for a feature on diabetes, it was hugely exciting.
- I’ve spoken at numerous conferences, starting at the age of 14 at the Diabetes UK 60th anniversary conference. It makes me feel like such a geek to say it, but if I didn’t have diabetes, I wouldn’t have anything particularly interesting to say to 500 people in a room!
- I interviewed my hero. As a child my hero was Gary Mabbutt, an England footballer who had type 1 diabetes. There was a time when I thought there were only him and me in the world with diabetes. I got to interview him about living with diabetes, that was pretty cool.
- I got a job. My first proper job after uni was marketing to the NHS, part of the reason I got that job was because of my knowledge of the health service and healthcare provision. The only reason I had that knowledge was because of my broken pancreas.
- I met a strange man on the internet and joined him in the fun and frollicks of writing a blog. I have a busy life, but there’s no other aspect of it I would dream of blogging about.
And of course, there’s a huge list of stuff I’ve done in-spite of it – white water rafting through rainforests, trekking on the Great Wall of China, sailing in storm force winds, tracking leopards on safari, I don’t think I can honestly say it’s ever stopped me doing anything (except maybe cross country running at school due to a “strategic” hypo!).
Naturally there are plenty of things I haven’t done but that’s got nothing to do with diabetes, for example:
- My childhood dream was to be an astronaut. One particularly helpful/evil diabetic nurse tried to burst my bubble aged 10 by telling me that they’d never let someone with diabetes go into space. My mother nearly had to be physically restrained on hearing such heinous words, diabetes didn’t stop anyone doing anything in our house. I’d like to use the broken pancreas as my excuse for my never having been to the moon, but that would be rather glossing over the other key fact that this was little more than a fantastical whimsy that I had no intention of doing anything about.
- I have never run a marathon – because the thought of it is horrific, I can’t think of many things I’d like to do less.
- I’ve never been scuba diving – because I have a completely irrational fear of fish so even swimming in the sea isn’t a very relaxing experience.
- I’ve never bungy jumped – sorry, I just don’t see the point. Abseiling or aerial rope ways? Done them both and really enjoyed them. Bungy jumping? No thanks.
- And finally, I’ve never auditioned for a TV talent show – I like to maintain some sense of dignity.
So, there’s plenty of things that limit what I do in life, but diabetes isn’t one of them. What opportunities has your broken pancreas given you?