Practice

The patient's journey: living with diabetes

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7548.1018 (Published 27 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1018
  1. Sali Davis (sali@salisplat.co.uk), patient1
  1. 1 Buckingham Grove, Hillingdon, Middlesex UB10 0QZ
  • Accepted 16 March 2006

Setting out

When I was diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes in 1984 at the age of 12 it came as a shock. I didn't know it at the time but all the signs were there: in the weeks before the diagnosis I had been losing a lot of weight, I was drinking far more than normal, I often felt unwell, and I recall my mother commenting on my constant mood swings. Eventually she got me to our general practitioner who, after discussing my symptoms, seemed to know what the problem was even before running tests.

Forty five minutes later I was in hospital, where type 1 diabetes was confirmed. In retrospect it would have been helpful if the specialist had explained the implications of the diagnosis instead of just saying that I had diabetes and that there was protein in my urine. Had I been told about the risks of kidney failure I would have been more vigilant and avoided taking ibuprofen, a factor in the development of my subsequent renal problems. It was a hard way to learn that I should always ask questions if I do not understand what doctors say.

It may seem funny now but the first thing that came to my mind on being told the diagnosis was “Will I ever be able to eat a McDonald's again.”

I spent eight days in hospital, but once diabetes and its treatment had been explained to me I was confident that I could cope with it. I was determined that it would not affect me in a dramatic way. I told myself that I could still have fun.

My condition didn't affect my relationship with friends. They came to visit me when I was in hospital for those eight days, and I am still friends with most of …

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