I was on my way towards Northern Europe’s largest festival – full speed. I was new with diabetes but had discharged myself from the hospital against the recommendations of the doctors. I had just been diagnosed with diabetes. But life hadn’t changed, right? At least that’s what I thought. At least that’s what I told myself.
New With Diabetes – “Let’s Have a Party!”
I’d gone to the festival because my companion and I had a bar there that year. 60-70 employees were waiting to be briefed. I couldn’t just stay home due to a little bit of diabetes. I wasn’t about to put my life on halt for something as insignificant as diabetes.
As soon as I arrived at the bar, the team was ready to receive their instructions. Except they all looked at me as if I was crazy. They couldn’t quite understand what on earth I was doing there after what they’d heard about my diagnosis. That I was new with diabetes.
I explained that yes, I’d been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but I’d seen my father deal with it most of my life. It wasn’t anything that we needed to waste time and energy on. I wanted to move forward. I briefed the team and they began to work.
It wasn’t until I left the location a few hours later to eat lunch that it all hit me at full strength.
“What Can I Eat? How do I Calculate My Insulin? Can I drink alcohol?” + a Thousand other Diabetes Questions
What could I eat? How much was I allowed to eat? How much insulin did I need? How was I supposed to dose it? When should I inject the insulin to be stable? How many carbs did the meal I was about to eat have? What would happen if I couldn’t finish the meal? Was I even able to enjoy a drink from my own bar if I wanted to? Etc. etc. etc.
I was scared shitless. Until this point, I’d been living in a bell jar where I’d had people around me all the time who could help someone new with diabetes. All of a sudden it was just me, myself and my new “companion”.
So there I was. In the middle of this huge festival. I was responsible for a super busy bar, but I was confused and bewildered. How was I supposed to move on from there?
The following period was the same. I didn’t know what I could eat, how much I could eat or how much insulin I needed to inject. All I knew was that the life I wanted didn’t align with my new brand as a diabetic.
What do You do With a Diabetic Son in Law?
The first time Christina and I were having dinner at her parents’ place after the diagnosis, they didn’t know what someone new with diabetes could eat either. They were nice enough to make broccoli, carrots, and chicken – since “that’s healthy”. Imagine if you had to eat that the rest of your life? ? Thanks, but no thanks. I think this was 2-3 weeks into my new life with diabetes.
It wasn’t difficult to understand why they thought and reacted like they did. I didn’t even know how diabetes would affect my diet myself. That’s why I asked for help to understand what I could eat and how I was meant to dosage the insulin. The hospital I’d been admitted to referred me to a dietician three months later. However, three months can feel like three years when you don’t know what to eat in your daily life – especially when you definitely don’t want to be on a cabbage diet.
Thankfully I had my girlfriend (now wife), Christina, who’s a trained nurse. She was able to pull some strings and through her network, I had an appointment with a dietician the next day. Perfect!
How do You Count Carbs?
The dietician introduced me to the term “carb counting” and from that moment, it was as if I saw through a window of my new life with diabetes into my old chaotic and non-structured life. The life that I had loved to live! The only thing I really needed to know was how many carbs were in a meal and then inject insulin accordingly. Right..?
What is “the Honeymoon Phase”?
After I was diagnosed and discharged from the hospital, the diabetes specialists still followed me closely. They were able to measure my average blood glucose level (also referred to as the tattletale-test amongst people with diabetes because it tells how well you’re regulated over a period of time).
All of my numbers were good, which made me think that this diabetes thing wasn’t that difficult after all. This is where the diabetes nurse had to introduce me to the concept of “the honeymoon phase”.
This is a period where the pancreas still produces a bit of insulin. Not enough to keep the BG stable, which is why you still need to add insulin. It’s only when you’re new with diabetes. After some time it stops working completely. How long this period lasts is apparently different for diabetics.
A New Life Began After the Honeymoon
Once the honeymoon phase was over, I struggled to get my life as a diabetic entrepreneur to work for me. At least with the kinds of businesses I had at the time. This annoyed the hell out of me because I really felt like I had found my place in the world at the time.
I had to face the facts though. That’s why I sold my shares in my different businesses and prepared myself to live a new and structured life instead of my beloved, chaotic, fun life that I’d lived so far.
I got a normal job. It made me slowly wither. Something had to happen. I had to do something to change my situation!
In the next episode, I’ll tell you all about how living a structured life based on routine sucked all the fun out of my life – and how I finally chose to do something about it.
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If you have diabetes too, I’d love to hear the questions you struggled with when you were first diagnosed in the comments below. And if you’re looking for a really helpful tool to manage your diabetes, check out the app that my wife, a friend and I have made.