If I had a working pancreas…

By | 15 February, 2011
Alison's pancreas in amongst other stuff

Alison’s pancreas in amongst other stuff

… 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?

Category: Living with diabetes Tags: ,

About Alison

Diagnosed with Type One in 1983 at the age of four, Alison's been at this for a while now. She uses Humalog in a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and any blood glucose meter as long as it takes five seconds or less.

31 thoughts on “If I had a working pancreas…

  1. Pingback: More good reasons to be diabetic | Shoot Up or Put Up

  2. Pingback: Good diabetic? Bad diabetic? | Shoot Up or Put Up

  3. Tim

    Nice to have the benefits of diabetes listed – even if there aren’t all that many really…

  4. Hairy Gnome

    “What opportunities has your broken pancreas given you?”

    Erm… None really… but I have met lots of lovely, slightly dotty people, and geeks, on this blog! That may not class as an opportunity, but it’s definitely worth a lot to me! Us gnomes don’t get out a lot you know… 😛

  5. Hairy Gnome

    PS: I should add for our casual readers, my pancreas didn’t break, it was just overwhelmed, so I’m an insulin resistant T2, not a pancreatically challenged T1. 😛

  6. lizz

    I suppose… if my pancreas worked I don’t know where I would be now. I started life working in the film industry, but couldn’t give myself a small enough dose of insulin to actually survive at work unless I ate constantly… despite this I was about 7 stone as i was so active. I gave up work when we moved away from London as i couldn’t find a job where I was able to cope with that where we moved to. Had children. Started writing for children. I couldn’t go to work outside of the house as we live in village and I’m not allowed to drive due to no hypo warnings, and it would be very difficult anyway the amount of hypos and hypers I have, so I suppose my pancreas is directly responsible for me finding myself to be a children’s poet. I am glad about that. But nothing else.

  7. Mike

    @alison So jealous of the Blue Peter Badge.. I would agree that having Diabetes has not really prevented from doing anything.. One benefit I feel I have is I know my body better, knowing when something is not quite right. Perhaps that comes with age.

    It has also enabled me to pursue opportunities that I thought did not exist, and indeed will be reuniting with @tim and meeting @alison next month. Hurrah! 【ツ】

  8. lizz

    It has however stopped me driving and meant my life with my children was quite hard, as we live in a village and so I couldn’t take them swimming or anywhere in the holidays.

  9. Annette A

    I have to say, I dont think being diabetic has really affected me in any noticeable way. Other than knowing alot more about food (and anyone who was interested could be – its not just the carb bits, its all of it), I dont know that my life would have turned out much differently. I’ve not done or not done anything cos I was diabetic, and I’ve not been affected by it such as to prevent me/allow me to do something.
    Other than being on speaking terms with a garden ornament. 🙂

  10. Fiona

    Alison, your take on the dreadful d is a breath of fresh air! I chanced upon shootuporputup last year and have been following it ever since. I feel like a bit of a stalker so have decided to take the plunge and join the fray! I’m not diabetic but my 16 year old son was diagnosed type 1 a year and a half ago – totally out of the blue, not in the family etc… It has taken me at least a year to stop asking him on the hour every hour if he is ok – how irritating that must be!! You all know the lifechanging moment of the diagnosis but a robust sense of humour has seen him and us through some dark moments, not least dealing with our truly poisonous DSN – a rant for another time!

  11. Tim

    @fionac – Hi Fiona! Welcome to non-lurking on Shoot Up! 🙂 Glad to hear things seem to be getting better – I found a diagnosis of diabetes at 28 really hard work; so I can only guess what it’s like to be 15 and diagnosed – and, perhaps even worse, to be the parent of a 15 year old.

    Anyway, do feel free to start a rant on a new thread in the forums. After all, if you can’t have a rant on an Internet-based message forum where *can* you have a rant, dagnabit?!

  12. Alison Post author

    @Fionac Welcome on board Fiona. I’m very impressed you’ve managed to stop asking your son how he is after a year, I can still see my parents biting their tongues after nearly 28 years! We like a good rant, so feel free. And hold on to that sense of humour, I think it comes second only to insulin in the battle with the D!

  13. lizz

    Hello Fiona. I was about the same age as your son, a bit younger. My parents set up a baby alarm in my room, I’m sure you can’t possibly be as bad as that.

    The trouble is with being diagnosed then or thereabouts is that it’s just at the age when you want to break free of being supervised, and suddenly you are trapped not just by the diabetes and its needs but by people’s concern. It is horrible.

    If I was my parent, or if my child became diabetic., I would probably be a nervous wreck, but as long as things were fairly ok not worry too much, EXCEPT about alcohol use. That’s where I had most of my worrying problems.

  14. Stephen

    The only real benefit I can think of for being diabetic is the number of attractive nurses I come into contact (well not “literally” …) on a regular basis. Hey, take the positives from the negatives or so my cute DNS says 😛

    I dread the possibility of my daughter being diagnosed with it. I was 2 when diagnosed, and she’s 9 now. Every time she starts drinking a lot a little bit inside me starts panicking 🙁 I suspect I would cotton wool her even worse than my mother did me.

  15. Tim

    @axomoxia – see! Every cloud has a silver lining. Undiagnosed diabetes may cause your body to eat itself, but – hey – you do look good with it! 😉

  16. Hairy Gnome

    I was always told hyperglycaemia made you lose weight, didn’t work for me though. The only way my diabetes is going to make me lose weight is when bits start dropping off! Rofl! 😀

  17. lizz

    Let’s not be pessimistic Teloz. You could preempt that and have them chopped off. That hat could go for a start. And the beard.

    I lost 2 stone going on a low carb diet for a couple of months. Then I fell in love with the diet as it included cheese and wine. So I am still minus the two stone.

  18. Hairy Gnome

    Noooooooooooooo! Not the beard @lizz! I’d sooner give up insulin and get eaten by yeast infections than shave the gnomish beard off! Roflmao! 😛

  19. lizz

    Yep. And my cholesterol went down from 6 something to 4.2. And when I started drinking oat milk instead of cow milk in my tea it went down to 3.2. I’m a big believer in the fact that a diabetic diet was suddenly made low fat high carb for no good reason, and certainly from no research at all. In fact it has the opposite effect. I eat low carb, don’t worry at all about fat except to cut it off meat, loads of veg and salad and some fruit. Cheese every lunchtime some weeks.


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