Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized

Two October Events That Made Me Happy To Have Type 1

November 4, 2014
Auntie Shirley, me, and co-organiser Fiona

Happy November! Get the gingerbread lattes ready… <insert CocaCola theme tune> holidays are ruddy coming. In a blaze of tinsel, Christmas lights, mulled wine and oh so many layers of knitwear, it’s on its way and I cannot WAIT. It also makes me pull excitable faces like this…

Christmas Jumper

I always was particularly cool

But first… There was October.

For all the shit that comes with diabetes, there are undoubtedly some upsides if you squint through the haze of the hypos. The people I’ve connected to on the interwebz through this blog, the opportunities it’s offered me, the outlook it’s given me and the positivity it’s somehow afforded me. But the two things I’ve been consistently and positively overwhelmed by the most = 1. the wonderful moment of meeting someone from our solid community online in real life (of which the number happily keeps on growing) and 2. the generosity of people when it comes to charity. This month I got a double whammy of warm fuzziness – one due to the former, and one the latter. Hooray for the world.

Firstly, I attended the JDRF Type 1 Discovery Evening and gave a ‘talk’ (read: rambling insight into my babbling brain, but more on that shortly) about life with type 1. I was horrifically nervous which most of my family didn’t in any way believe due to my tap-shoed jazz-handed past. But I really really was. For one I was due to speak last – the headline act as my boyfriend helpfully put it – but mostly because it was to a room full of other type 1s. I can talk to interested parties of the fully functioning pancreas variety for hours; telling them the basics, what it’s like, yes there’s a lot of needles, yes I can eat sugar, no I wasn’t a fat child and answering various other weird and wonderful questions quite happily. But fellow type 1s are living through all this stuff. What the hell did I have to offer that they didn’t already know?

My nerves were not allayed by the thought of having to follow the wonderful Dr Tim Tree who gave an incredible and completely fascinating talk about where we’ve come from and where we’re going in the management of type 1. I was slightly flustered, hugely apologetic, got a little lost in my notes and went very red on several occasions. I came away after around 10/15/20 minutes of rambling (I have absolutely no idea) feeling like I hadn’t done it quite as much justice as I would have liked; due to too many notes and not enough practice. BUT this was entirely dissolved by the fact I got to meet more diabetics I already ‘knew’ in a single evening than ever before in my almost 20 years sans functioning pancreas. And that part was entirely, completely and wholly wonderful.

Rambling for diabetics everywhere since 1996

Rambling for diabetics everywhere since 1996

Gorgeous Vicki who had written some gorgeous words about a recent post of mine, superhuman Gav who had just returned from completing seven marathons in seven days in the States (whaaaat?!), lovely Phillipa who I chatted a length to about the ins and outs of this super fun disease, dear Clare who I’d met randomly for all of three minutes by chance on the tube, and kind Alex who introduced himself immediately and made me feel so much more at ease about the entire thing. It was incredible to have all of this in front of me and hear so many other stories about our finger-prick punctuated life. It is quite clear to me that we, as a breed, are rather extraordinary.

And the second fuzzy funtime? Well, this weekend I headed up to dear Yorkshire for a charity black tie event my Auntie was holding for Diabetes UK. She and her (type 1) son, my cousin David, are not new to this blog having been the subject of quite a popular post from a while back which documents us two type 1s on the same night out. And as I explain over there, my Auntie lives in a teeny tiny village comprising of two whole roads, a postbox, a village hall and (of course) a pub. It’s delicious and green and lush and restorative. For this event we went to the next spot along, the market town of Helmsley, where she’d hired a wonderful function room in a hotel and invited North Yorkshire’s finest gentlemen, ladies and young farmers. When I say she’s Queen Bee of the village, I mean she’s a clipboard and a headset away from being Monica when it comes to organising events. She’d thought of EVERYTHING – there was a reception with bubbles, a three course dinner, spooky and wonderful table decorations (it was Halloween after all), a raffle, an auction and DJ. It makes me exhausted just thinking about the effort it took to organise.

Two Type 1s and a very impressive 'do'

Two Type 1s and a very impressive ‘do’

And then there was me, whom she asked to do a little speech before everybody tucked into the meal. This prospect was much less daunting than the last – it was two minutes not twenty, and there were only three type 1s in this room of more than a hundred. I had a mic, a sparkly dress and I’d actually practiced this one out loud in a rare moment of not leaving everything until the last minute. We realised after the fact it would have been a good idea to film it for this here humble blog, but there you go hindsight, aren’t you wonderful. So you’ll unfortunately have to read a little longer (well, you don’t have to. But it’s good, I promise. You can steal it if you ever find yourself in a room full of expectant Yorkshire-folk having being asked to talk about type 1):

First of all, thanks to you all for coming. Huge thanks to this evenings sponsor Andrew Morgan, although I don’t think you would have had much choice once Shirley and Fiona got hold of you. Thanks to The Feathers for having us tonight, and of course to Shirley and Fiona for taking the time to organise this fantastic event.

Type 1 diabetes is a funny condition. By looking at me in theory you would never know anything is wrong (ha). Just like someone without diabetes, I do all the things anyone else can do – whether that’s travelling the world or having to suffer the morning commute. But in the background Its a constant and never ending balancing act, trying to keep my blood sugars stable through multiple daily insulin injections, in an effort to keep my levels from going dangerously high or catastrophically low.
Each day I, and hundreds of thousands of other type 1s prick our fingers numerous times, and inject according to the food were eating and the things were doing. But it’s not quite that simple. Exercise, fatigue, stress, even the weather can play havoc with our blood sugars, to the point that despite the constant counting, checking and measuring it is impossible to always stay between those magic lines in the same way a non-diabetic can.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a disease you can’t live with. But it IS a disease you can never switch off from. And for a long time I was the only type 1 I knew, which at times was pretty isolating. That is, until Shirley’s son, my cousin David, decided to steal my thunder when he was diagnosed at 18. I know I’m your favourite cousin Dave but that level of empathy probably wasn’t necessary.

To be fair to him he gets on with it quietly, and a lot better than I do.
I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for nearly 20 years now, and having worked closely with Diabetes UK for some time. I’ve seen first-hand how their money is spent and the real difference it’s making to people’s lives – whether it be as simple as the parent of a newly diagnosed child having a Facebook group full of people who understand what you’re going through, to the life-changing research being undertaken to hopefully prevent future generations from suffering from diabetes at all. You may or may not have seen the recent breakthrough – hailed as being as significant as the discovery of antibiotics, but let’s just say things are looking fairly promising. So with your help this evening, by digging deep and giving generously, we can make sure that we find that cure as soon as possible. And if it means we have to eat, drink and be merry while we raise that money, well who am I to argue. Cheers to that.

Good eh? I’m giving myself the ‘Most Improved’ sticker here.

Auntie Shirley, me, and co-organiser Fiona in our finery

Auntie Shirley, me, and co-organiser Fiona

And what a merry evening it was, not least because we could drink nice wine at non-London prices. In a single evening the above pair of exceptional ladies raised a whopping £6000 for the cause. SIX THOUSAND POUNDS. In one night. Incredible. The generosity of the people in that room was astounding. So take that you crappy little disease, you have shown me and continue to show me in no uncertain terms in a multitude of ways that people are entirely wonderful. Good work, October.

My ever-present cheerleader <3

My ever-present cheerleader <3


  • Reply Elaine Lawson November 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Oh, but you spoke wonderfully well at the JDRF event. Wonderfully well.

    I think, at events like that, when you share a condition with the audience, they want to see a positive mirror image of themselves speaking. We didn’t want to be talked at, we wanted to be talked to or talked with and you did that marvellously. It was realistic and inspiring – in the way that just doing the best you can with diabetes is inspiring. You gave voice and shape to some of our best thoughts.

    Please keep doing what you do. (By the way – we did meet. I came up to you as you were finishing your conversation with Tim Tree. I had to get back to Brighton, so I couldn’t stay around for long)

    • Reply missjengrieves November 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Yes we did! Ah thank you so much for this, that’s more reassuring than you can imagine! I was worried I’d failed everyone. It was a great event though and I took so much from it, a great evening. I’m glad you didn’t think my talk was awful! Your words are incredibly kind and mean so much, thank you xxx

      • Reply Elaine Lawson November 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        I can’t imagine anything further from awful!

        You did good. :)

  • Reply daniela November 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Well done JenJen.#proud.xxx

  • Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: