Teen’s bid to raise awareness of diabetes

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A Wetherby teenager is raising awareness of type 1 diabetes by talking about her own traumatic diagnosis.

This Diabetes Week 15-year-old Ellie Day hopes she can help others come to terms with being diagnosed with the life-threatening condition.

Ellie, who was dianosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 14, said: “Because of the trauma of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and feeling that I ought to be able to cope, but just couldn’t, I experienced Post Traumatic Stress and ended up with a long hospital stay.

“I think that not knowing enough about the disease contributed to the psychological issues I had when I was diagnosed.

“Having to be told it is an autoimmune condition, that it is for life and that you have to take insulin in order to stay alive is a lot for the whole family to take in, and then get used to.

“I have needed a lot of help to come to terms with my type 1 diagnosis and process what it means to live with it for the rest of my life - but fortunately I am now turning a corner and feeling more positive.

“It really helps to have a supportive network of people who know what type 1 diabetes is and how serious it can be, even if you look ok and are doing normal things. My family and close friends are my support network and help me to deal with the 24/7 care that diabetes needs.

“I am also lucky to be looked after by the LGI Paediatric Diabetes team. They have helped me from day one of my diagnosis, through my long hospital stay.”

Ellie added: “I’ve had access to psychological as well as medial support through this amazing team.”

But Ellie explained that Despite the great support offered by Leeds, she has struggled with her diagnosis and balancing everyday teenage life with having to look after her health.

“Greater awareness of Type 1 diabetes would have helped,” she said.

“I also hope by increasing awareness there will be more understanding about how with type 1 there is nothing I could have done to contribute to this illness as it can be really upsetting when people think this.”

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition which cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle.

With type 1 diabetes, being able to manage changing blood glucose levels and prevent them from going too high (hyperglycaemia) or too low (hypoglycaemia) is a relentless challenge.

Experts said this is because the beta cells, which release insulin to keep blood glucose levels stable, have been destroyed by the immune system, and so glucose levels must be continually monitored and adjusted manually.

As Karen Addington, CEO of JDRF, which funds research, explained: “Type 1 diabetes can be a tough condition to live with.

“It can sometimes be made harder because there are a lot of myths about what it is and how a person develops it.

“This can have a negative impact on emotional wellbeing and cause feelings of frustration, guilt, isolation and even depression.”

Diabetes Week runs until June 16.