Behind the scenes: after the diagnosis

Frederick Banting c.1921So you might be wondering why I’ve decided to write two “Behind the scenes” posts this week. Today is an important milestone for me, and I’d like to share it with you because I believe many readers will be able to relate to it in one way or another.

It has now been one year to the day since I was diagnosed with prediabetes. Although I’m grateful not to be living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, I think being diagnosed with any stage of a chronic disease can be frightening. Last summer I finally decided to see a doctor because I was feeling so unwell so often. Diabetes had never occurred to me as a possibility, even though it runs in my family. It was not a diagnosis I expected to hear at 21 years old. However, after getting some direction from my doctor, I feel great. I’m not getting splitting headaches every day – this happened for 7 years!! – so I’m extremely grateful for that. I now understand that what, when, and how much I eat has a huge effect on how I feel throughout the day. With this information, I can prevent myself from suddenly feeling nauseous, dizzy, faint, confused, irritable and lethargic – in other words, hypoglycemic. I can see why Banting said in 1924 that

“Diabetes, more than any other disease, requires an intimate cooperation between physician and patient. It is essential that patients should understand thoroughly the cause, course and complications of the disease in order that they may intelligently carry out their physician’s instructions.”

If you think you might have diabetes (learn more about the symptoms here), be sure to see a doctor right away. And if you have any form of diabetes, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor lots of questions. Seek – and take! – their advice. It may mean the difference between thriving with diabetes and “just getting by.”

October is an important month for the story of insulin and diabetes. The 90th anniversary of Banting’s Nobel Prize will be occurring this Friday. Next Thursday is the anniversary of Banting’s “eureka moment,” when he woke up at 2am with an idea that would lead to the discovery of insulin. (We will be acknowledging the October 31st anniversary with a series of blog posts that explain the science behind diabetes and Banting’s hypothesis!) While I do not yet need to take insulin, I’m grateful for Banting’s accomplishments. It is entirely possible that I will be dependent on insulin later in life. Without the discovery of insulin I would not be alive today. It is Banting’s work that has transformed so many people’s horror stories into success stories.

This is what I will be keeping in mind on November 14th. On World Diabetes Day, what will you remember, and who will you be fighting for?

This blog was posted by Stacey Devlin, graduate research assistant at Banting House NHSC. Stacey Devlin is an M.A. candidate in Public History at Western University.

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