Tuesday 7 September 2010

Hope, fear or terror?

Just recently, I have watched and read three different forms of media, which have brought the matter of how to tackle young people not taking their diabetes seriously, well and truly into my thoughts.

The first, was a documentary recently televised on Channel 4 about the risks young people take with their diabetes. Shot from the perspective of the toll this takes on the NHS, this documentary received a markedly varied response primarily - it seems - dependent on what the 'watcher' was expecting to see.

The second was a blog post written by the person who - in part - got me blogging. A blogger from America called Kerri Morrone-Sparling. In her post she talked about the way in which fear of complications is often used, perhaps naively, as a way to 'motivate' people to take more care of themselves.

The third appeared tonight, via facebook, in the form of a link to an article about a 47 year old type 1 diabetic. She was also a triple amputee, having had both her legs and one arm removed.

I was about to hit the 'share' button on the laptop, when I realised; this article had terrified me, did I really want to share it? The first thing I did after reading it was check my sugars. But the truth is, the article led the reader very much down the 'it's too late now' route, so even though I'm glad to say my sugars were 5.9mmol (106mg/dl), the article had already convinced me that no matter how they were now, I may well have already done the damage.

I now have that heavy feeling in my stomach. About my weight, about the fact I've been drunk, have smoked, didn't go for a run every night as a teenager. About the fact I am human.

The truth is I realised something just as I was about to hit that button. I realised that there are many people in this world. All of whom have different characteristics and different ways of reacting to something.

For some, that article may have filled them with motivation. Motivation to get up tomorrow and pound the hell out of their jogging shoes. For me, the fear doesn't work. It never did. Truth is, the article made we want to go out, get drunk, smoke a packet of cigarettes and give up all together. Just for a second.

I won't, but only because my attention span is matched only by high functioning amoebas and in all honesty, I knew I could run to my blog and anonymously (sort of), write down all my thoughts and allow them fall onto the screen.

But what about those kids in the documentary? If I had read that article as an angst filled teenager struggling enough to come to terms with the feelings puberty was throwing at me, I would probably have ended up in tears and considered ending my journey. What is the point - if the cards have already been drawn, if the chips are down?

I think I realised tonight, that I am very much in the 'anti-fear' camp. Telling someone that the disease which has already claimed such a marked percentage of their lives that if you don't take PERFECT care of yourself, it could also take both of your legs and you arm, is surely enough to make the strongest person withdraw and hang up their gloves for good. Or to at least send them into a mild surge of depression.

My motivation right now is the fact that one day I hope to bring children into this world; healthy children who can do all the things I could as a child. But more than that, my hope is that I will grow old to see them start play school, junior school, secondary school, college. I hope to see them fall in love, see them fall out of love, watch them find themselves. Hope.

The key word there is hope. I look after myself, because of HOPE. Hope isn't driven by fear or terror. It is driven by positivity and ambition. Perhaps I am naive to hope that I will still be in one piece similar to this one by the time my life draws to a close, but my vision of my future is based on me as I am now. If I was using images of myself with no arms or legs, kidney failure and blindness, what is there to strive for? Being able to feed yourself at the age of 50? Being able to walk at your child's wedding? Being able to get out of bed without help?

The truth is for me, hope is the only way I motivate myself. I know that this isn't the case for everyone, and that some people need that image of a amputee to spur them on. But I wonder how many people, realistically, who are already dealing with their fair share of challenges, are really able to look at that, and not allow it to fill them with fear and dread?

Am I the only one to feel troubled?

For me, hope comes in the form of a cure. That is the plain and simple fact. I know that doesn't reach out to everyone and I know that it is at best still just a dream. And I have no doubt that if by the age of 45 I have had to have legs and arms amputated, I will also be trying to spread the same message I am now arguing as problematic. Perhaps motivations and inspirations change through time - as we grow and change.

Whatever the case is. For now, I will store that article at the back of my thoughts. Tomorrow I will have a good day, because every new day brings a new chance. Maybe I'm already damaged, maybe I'm not. Right now I choose NOT!

That is my hope.


  1. Hi Anna
    Just wanted to say thank for this blog post. I read the exact same story about the triple amputee yesterday and it terrified me. I was reading it whilst sitting at my desk at work and could feel tears starting to prick my eyes - I even had nightmares about it last night.
    I just try and take every day as it comes and not worry about what might happen in the future - but stories like that are really scary.
    Anyway I'm glad I'm not the only one who was upset about it. I think you are right to have hope as your philosophy :) It makes hearing stories like that a little easier. All any of us can do is to take as good care of ourseleves as possible.

  2. I totally agree Lily, and you are not on your own there! But remember that in the article the lady does admit that she used to fuel herself with sugary drinks to keep herself going when busy.

    I think we should just keep going as we are and appreciate every day we do OK!

    Great talking to you x