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MY DIABETES STORY

I found out I had Type 1 Diabetes on the 15th of January 2009. This is my story.

I am a Type 1 Diabetic. This is my story:

For a long time I had this odd sensation inside: I didn’t feel at one with myself, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. There were many possible contributing factors: private, personal, mental, physical, and professional. 

I guess it all came to a head in October 2008. We (the family) lost someone very special that month; it was a loss that cut me very deeply, more than I was prepared to acknowledge at the time.

The months after the funeral – leading up to Christmas – was a numb procession, and I attributed my dark, unpremeditated mood swings and the feeling of cold resentment and disdain towards the world to the unremitting grief that I was enduring. I had not been eating well; I connected the drastic weight loss to grief.

I was learning to drive and would have been taking my test in January. I was blaming the shifts for my lapses in concentration when driving, and the driving for my indolence during shifts – feelings of lethargy are habitual for any shift worker. My bouts of insomnia were, I believed, answerable to the relentless shift patterns as well. 

I was aware that my eyesight had gotten blurry and I was getting frequent headaches – I stare at over 200 CCTV screens for a living, who wouldn’t get a sore head and square eyes from doing that?

The air in workplace can be quite dry; it is common to get thirsty. It was only until I was drowning myself with pint after pint of water, thirst un-quenched, that I realised something was wrong. My voice had lowered over the space of weeks; gruff growls and phlegmatic rumbles, as if gargling wall tacs. 

My throat was inflaming and I was experiencing persistent pains, like barbed wire had encumbered my tonsils. Again, there was a probable explanation: several of my colleagues had succumbed to a lingering flu bug and had simply spread the love to me.

It was during the 2008 Christmas period that I rapidly deteriorated. I was feeling tired, incensed, and confused. My family (of nurses) thought that I had, ‘come down with something’ (weren’t they right). I had no interest in Christmas at all – or anything else in life. During the dull festive period I was happiest when retreating to work or having driving lessons; where I could find focus on the job at hand. I was clearly not myself.

For weeks I had been snapping at my girlfriend and arguing with colleagues for no reason; generally behaving like a prepubescent teenager, realising my actions through the punishment of hindsight. I can be a miserable bastard anyway, but these moods were darker; out-of-the-blue. I had also been enduring the same headache for over a month. Something wasn’t right.

My 30th birthday celebration consisted of me, my girlfriend, and a mutual friend meeting up for a meal and drinks in Cardiff – I didn’t crave for much else in the way if social interaction. By 7 o’clock I had abandoned tequila and was drinking tea. By 8 o’clock I was ready for pipe and slippers. Anyone who knows me with testify that I am always among the last revellers to fall. And I still had that damn headache.

It took two weeks to get an appointment with the doctor. I was getting worse by the day. Finally, after enduring an eight hour night shift, I arrived at the local surgery. Following an examination I was abruptly admitted to hospital.

My keytone levels were dangerously high and I had registered one mother-and-father of a blood glucose reading: 30 mmol – A nurse shouting ‘Bloody hell!’ is always the first hint that something is amiss.

Tired and confused, I contacted the relevant family members for a lift to hospital and started to pack my overnight bag. I didn’t have a clue what diabetes was; I was hoping that they could have it sorted in a few weeks. 

Ignorance would not be bliss. The wait at the hospital was over 3 hours. By this point I had been awake for over 24 hours, and was feeling it in every part of my forlorn, fragile body.

Finally, I was allocated a bed to not sleep in. Various pricks, prods, pokes, and consultations; pretty student doctors telling me to piss in ugly jars. It was getting too much. I started getting quite worried when they attached some sort of heart monitor. All that talk of kidney and liver functions was quite unsettling, too. 

Hospital curtains are not soundproof, but medical staff must be genetically altered to believe they are. I was trying very hard not to get salty with the staff; they helped me achieve that by simply ignoring me. I just wanted to go home, close my eyes, and sleep.

Men are funny creatures: On the bed of reckoning; tired, panicked, fatigued, and sedated; connected to drips, and whatever else was sticking in and out me, and I still had time to eye-up the nurses. Pepé Le Pew lives in my libido! Eventually, some smartly dressed doctors approached me. My initial thoughts at the time were ‘Don’t look at me all fucking jolly and smiling!’ But they did. 

While looking at me all fucking jolly and smiling they told me that I have Type 1 Diabetes. I would have to inject insulin for the rest of my finite existence. A new full time job; without pay or leave entitlements. No promotion prospects and the daily potential threat of termination – of the terminal kind.

It’s surreal to think back to that life-defining moment. While the specialists were telling me the most important, life-changing news, I was formulating a cheesy James Bond sketch in my head: 

A rather attractive nurse approaches me and says, ‘please lift up your t-shirt so I can examine you.’ Mere seconds later, I’m sat up in bed wearing nothing but a dazzling white towel robe, pouring two glasses of champagne. A single red rose peers over the deck of a silver ice bucket. ‘Would you care for some caviar?’ I ask, lifting a seductive eyebrow, ‘An hors d’œuvre, perhaps?’

The sleep deprivation and denial had settled in; sheer disbelief and refusal to face the reality: that diabetes is for life. Always. For ever. Longer than a little while. No cure. A bit of a pickle to say the least, old chum.  

I was discharged the same night and was instructed to return the following morning to learn to inject myself and test my levels. This was followed by a consultation with the dietitian who would convert me to fruit, veg and other alien foods. 

I strongly recollect having best night’s sleep that I can ever remember having. I woke up feeling new, sharp and focused; no longer high. Had I not been myself for so long that I had forgotten what ‘being myself’ felt like?

Answers were coming ten-to-the-dozen: I had been suffering with high sugars for a long time. Whenever I consumed a hearty lunch my eyes would feel like they wanted to spin around like the slots in a fruit machine. I would feel especially tired after eating rice, pasta, and potatoes.

During the weeks leading up to my diagnosis I was quenching my thirst with orange juice and tea with the usual two sugars – sugars! I was eating healthy: rice, pasta, and potatoes – carbohydrates! I was beginning to think that I was lactose intolerant because I always felt sleepy after eating cereals and things with cheese, like pizza – pizza and cereal are high in carbohydrate! 

I took to injecting quite quickly; my survival instinct had kicked in at this point – subconsciously absorbing this new information. The lecture from the dietitian didn’t sink in, however. Irony is me contracting a disease that involves maths: I’m one of the 5-in-4 people who has problems with fractions! 

I was given a semesters worth of books to study; addressing cheerful subjects like blindness, neuropathy, ketoacidosis, heart-kidney-liver failure, amputation, hypers and hypos. “Erectile dysfunction? What the bloody fuck?” 

The specialist had written down how much I was to inject myself with, but I didn’t have a clue how much to eat – and I was too dumbfounded to ask. I was still drifting in a haze of denial; yet to be blindsided by the brutal realisation. But it wouldn’t be long before that freight train rolled in.

Later that evening I was sobbing over a lonely breast of chicken and a heap of steamed broccoli. It was as if every bereavement and breakup I had endured in my life had reunited and was dragging my guts across a bed of hot coals; littered with shards of glass, ghost chilies, and Lego. 

I felt like I had been betrayed by myself. And I failed my fucking driving test. After reading the study notes of my condition, silly things started running through my mind – the desperation phase: 

I began looking for miracle cures on the internet; kidney and pancreas transplants. I didn’t ask for diabetes to enter my life; this disease that would always there when I woke up and the last thing on my mind before Morpheus lured me to outlandish realms.

By design I am a fighter; I take the blows that life hits me with and bounce back stronger. I am a control freak; living my life the way I want to. Over the years I have come back stronger and found positives: I passed by driving test and I worked out my carbohydrate-to-insulin ratio.  

I attended a diabetes course where I proved to myself that I was doing everything right; I have become friends with other diabetics and learned from their experiences.

I am at a point where I no longer feel restricted by my diabetes; I just have to think about things a little more; plan ahead. I make more time to observe and learn about the world around me; to live the dream and enjoy the smaller, more pleasant things on this pale blue dot!

‘Would you care for some caviar..?’

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IT’S JUST A HOBBY

This is for all the gifted hobbyists out there who choose to keep it behind closed doors.

This little piece is dedicated to anybody regarded by their family or friends as ‘talented’ or ‘naturally gifted’, and are encouraged, nagged, or just plain forced into making something out of that talent despite possessing no desire to use that gift for financial or professional gains. This is for those who’s gifts are ‘just a hobby’.

There are some people who feel that anybody with an ounce of talent should peruse that talent to the highest accolade. That capable actors should work towards treading the boards on Broadway or appearing in prime time TV show on the goggle-box. Singers should work their arses off to get noticed by Warner Music; fast runners should aim to proudly represent their flag every four years. The same types of people often say things like, “Be all that you can be”, and “If he was any good, he wouldn’t be performing at weddings”, “She can’t be that much of a journalist, she’s been writing for the Valleys Weekly for the last twelve years”.

The lingering opinion among these opinionists that if someone does not use their talents to aim for the top, then all the classes, training, lessons and micro-managing were all a waste of time and money – it was all for nothing. They call it ‘wasted talent’. I call it ‘bullshit’. There is no such thing as a ‘wasted talent’, a ‘waste of time’, or a ‘waste of money’, because some people convert their ‘wasted talents’ into things called hobbies; a strange little concept that involves people doing things they are exceptionally talented at to please only themselves.

You see, friends, no talent is wasted if the participant finds something rewarding out of the application of that talent, regardless of how small or insignificant it is. Rewards are subjective and depend on the individual. To a particular individual, performing in front of a crowd of one or delivering a wedding speech can be just as rewarding or horrifying as performing to a packed Stadium. Even alone, you can easily lose yourself in the moment when singing sweet lullabies to a shampoo bottle – you can still get something rewarding out of it. It’s all about the personal journey; not everybody wants to be heard or seen – not everyone wants to be the cream.

Not everybody gives a fuck about status or career, either. Not everybody wants their talents to be bastardised, criticized, scrutinised or compromised by ungrateful, opinionated fucktards. In my life I have known gifted individuals with superb singing voices, acting skills, gripping short stories, eclectic guitar styles, crazy dance moves and lightening kicks like Bruce Lee; individuals who are happy doing their thing in private. I’m totally down with that attitude.

Somewhere there is a Marketing Executive with a flare for poetry, a Surgeon who is handy with a piano, a Babysitter who paints magisterial Valley landscapes on an effervescent canvas, a retired Steelworker who makes good use of the carpentry set he was given as a leaving present from his fellow wage-slaves. A poem for a lover’s eyes only – words as moving as anything in the history of paper or parchment.

I like the idea that all around this blue pearl drop there are everyday people that do extraordinary things for no one but themselves. A planetary-wide abundance of creative awesomeness all around us; few people will never see how awesome some of it is. I also love the idea that the same creative potential of these individuals is in every single one of us. We all have the power to do something magnificent. And there the humbling riches lay.

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THE SIMPLE ACT OF CARING

Caring is one of the most magnificent things you will ever do. Live it, own it; cherish it.

Caring is one of the most magnificent things you will ever do, whether in public or in private; briefly or indefinitely. Live it, own it; cherish it. It is a privilege to care and a reward to be cared for, it costs nothing and is worth everything. Caring is a personal adventure that will shape you…

There is nothing greater than when souls connect in inexplicable ways, sharing the good times and the bad – the laughter and the tears. Your life will be enriched with good memories of the friends and loved ones who have played a part in your journey through life; people have, and will, mould and shape you with their influences. They will inspire you to shine.

There’s more than enough room, so don’t come in to conflict with yourself when you find yourself caring for more than one person at a time – emotions have no rules or restrictions; they are yours to do with as you please. Do with them as you please! There are billions of human souls on this world, and each has the potential to stir you and improve your life in different ways. Welcome and celebrate each and every one.

You can’t measure love with a spirit-level and you won’t always be sure how the other person feels – not until we can all read each other’s thoughts, anyway. You were taught to disguise your true feelings from the time when you were a child; when told, ‘don’t give me that look’ or ‘don’t look so miserable’ – right up to the civility that you have to display in certain awkward situations; to people that you can’t stand the sight of. Think about how well you can pull it off – there are better actors than you in the world. But risk is part of the game of life.

Everybody walks to a different beat and it is natural that peoples’ feelings will be different to yours. You will be disliked by someone, someday – yes, even someone as adorable as you! Don’t resent that person if they don’t feel the same way about you as you do about them – there is, was, and always will be a 50/50 chance of someone liking or hating you; it is that clear-cut – it is the natural order of things. It’s none of your business what someone thinks about you, hard as it is to accept. You may one day be put in the position of someone claiming to care for you when you feel nothing for them. Be gentle with them, but remember that you didn’t choose for them to care – it is theirs to endure, just as it will be yours when the time comes.

Find no place for jealousy in your life, but if you have to be jealous, hide it well! Direct envy in a positive way towards the ones you hold dear. Never stop learning about them, earning their trust, and gaining their respect. Be proud of their achievements and celebrate their success; you are witnessing landmarks in a persons life, be grateful for that gift. Never rest on your own laurels; you are only as good as your last encounter, so don’t ever assume that you can pick things up where they left off – sometimes you may even have to start all over again.

The hardest thing to do is to say goodbye; whether in person, or apart. You will not always understand why it has to be goodbye. A time will come when you are the one who chooses to walk away; there will be times when you can’t face to walk away. There will be times when it is too late to say goodbye. Every goodbye will be different and scripted scenarios will always play out in your head – confused and clouded thoughts of how things might have been so different; what you didn’t do – what you never said. The hardest word you will ever have to say is ‘goodbye’; the hardest word you will ever hear is ‘goodbye’.

You will get hurt! It will happen without warning; and it’s called ‘hurt’ for a reason. It has to be felt and cannot be explained – you will certainly know it when it hits you. Let it take you when it comes; flood your lap with tears, rock yourself to sleep, play melancholic tunes, or drown yourself with booze; endure it and understand it because it will stay with you for a long time – and life will always ensure that there is more where that came from. Keep hold of the good memories, even if it makes you angry or hurt; they were a part of the days of your life; you are something because of them.

In my life I have been charmed and disarmed, deflated and dejected, accepted and rejected. I have won some and I have lost some; I have pulled some in and I have pushed some away. I have had to say goodbye and I have not had the chance to say goodbye. I have a life full of fond memories and stories to tell; encounters that have taken me to heaven and hell. I tell you all of this because I have cared. I tell you all of this because I have been there. I tell you all of this because I have nothing to regret. I would tell you more, but I haven’t finished learning, yet…

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MY SELF-UNIVERSE

Despite its apparent sense of humour, the universe is a cold and foreboding place. It does not recognise care, cruelty, […]

Despite its apparent sense of humour, the universe is a cold and foreboding place. It does not recognise care, cruelty, love, pain, and empathy. It is neither the enemy nor the ally; it simply ‘is’. Primitive civilisations over the ages have tried to compensate for this cold, sobering fact by fabricating ludicrous belief systems called religions, centred around all-knowing, all-seeing, fantasy beings called Gods.

Like children who filled their boredom and loneliness with imaginary friends – created to be all they want them to be – so did these certifiable nutters create creators of everything, as an explanation for everything; available 24/7 as a conduit for credit and blame. All the positive things are because we are all ‘Being blessed’ (not to be mistaken for being ‘Brian Blessed’) and all the shit that happens is because ‘The Creator‘ (not to be mistaken for the creator V’ger was seeking in ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’) work ‘in mysterious ways’.

Not in my universe!

I cannot influence or control the universe – wars will happen, governments will fuck up, the wrong people will die, the banks will never learn, tax-cattle will get State Stockholm Syndrome – but I can influence some of what happens in my self-universe. My self-universe is made up of unique perceptions, sensations, thoughts, and emotions that are experienced from my own unique perspective – a private self-universe with spiralling galaxies of loves, hates, empathies, prejudices, sentimentalities, vices, voyeurisms, taboos, guilty pleasures, and hidden pains.

No one will ever be able to cross the barrier into my self-universe. No person will ever experience their self-universe in the exact same way I experience mine – even when other self-universes converge in the same physical space, as they tend to do from time-to-time, the way they perceive their self-universial reality (the way they feel when they hear a great tune, watch a sunrise, taste a drink, hear a joke) is totally subjective; unique to them, and them alone.

Compared to physical reality (I was going to say ‘the one that came from a big bang’, but then didn’t we all, if you know what I mean), a self-universe is a harmonious place to live in because there are many ways to control and influence it. I play by my own rules. In my own self-universe, for instance, I decide what is serious, relevant, satire, or a freak-show. I decide the important headlines, the greatest hits, and the latest trends. I decide who’s fuckable and who’s forgettable; I decide the truths and the lies; the laughs and the cries.

Sadly, though, most self-universes are conditioned to be unaware of such potential for self-universal determination. Instead, they are led to believe they are beholden to the perceptions of other self-universes –  confused and conditioned to live by  a set of collective fabrications that have been given form and false meaning in the physical realm; non entities without physical form, not even at a molecular level. They drift along, living someone else’s dream, playing by someone else’s rules, playing out someone else’s act; with firewalls erected in their own self-universes, blurring any perception of what is real.

Not in my universe!

With contradiction being a given in most self-universal circumstances, the most exciting thing about my self-universe is that most of the time I haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen next.  Also, unlike the physical universe, my self-universe is self-aware and recognises, and is capable of, care, affection, pain, loss, joy, jealousy, sadness, guilt, anger, and gargantuan acts of magnificence.   What is more awesome about a self-universe is the power to create any fictional reality where the laws of science don’t apply.

If you explore your self-universe deep enough, you’ll realise that while there are immutable laws in the physical realm (physics and shit prevents you from flying or walking through walls), a great deal of what is supposedly ‘real’ is fabricated anyway – you can’t touch ‘the law’, or punch patriotism in the face; tax doesn’t have a molecular structure, Governments, borders, even countries, don’t really exist. There is no such thing as a forest; you cant touch a forest – you can touch individual trees, though. You dig?

By exploring the self-universe, you can learn a great deal about the physical universe and allow the two to coexist in perfect harmony. It’s not always perfect in my self-universe and it does not hold all the answers (sometimes it even causes a few problems), but nobody in my self-universe pulls the strings or works in mysterious ways; there is no God to turn to when it all goes FUBAR; no higher being to be loved, obeyed, feared and worshipped. No one is the King of my self-universe. No one, that is, except me!

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PLAYLIST TO THE STARS II

Presenting my second eclectic mix of space-related music.

Presenting my second ‘playlist to the stars’ featuring an eclectic mix of space-related music from TV, Movies, and albums that I love so much.

Running Order:

Iron Maiden – Satellite 15…..The Final Frontier
Genesis – Keep It Dark
Elton John – Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long Long Time)
Kraftwerk – Spacelab
Vangelis – Theme From The TV Series ‘Cosmos’ -- Heaven And Hell, 3rd Movement
James Horner – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
John Williams – The Imperial March -- Darth Vader’s Theme
Orbital – Doctor?
Air – Kelly Watch the Stars
Antilles – Astronaut Dance
Apollo 440 – Lost In Space (Theme) -- Instrumental Version
Buckethead – Big Sur Moon
Monty Python – Galaxy Song (Monty Python Sings)
t.A.T.u. – Cosmos (Outer Space)
Adam Ant – Apollo 9
Billy Bragg – The Space Race Is Over
Yello – Solar Driftwood

 

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