Ninjabetic – I Can
This week marks Diabetes Week and this year’s theme is ‘I Can’. This gives everyone with diabetes, and those who help people with diabetes, an opportunity to spread the word about the things they CAN do, despite the challenges they face on a daily basis. As this is my first column for The Diabetes Times, I wanted to talk about something that I can do, and that something is to become a nurse.
A few years ago, the idea of becoming a nurse was something that I never imagined would be possible. The only contact that I had with nurses was confined to a hospital bed during admissions, watching them with envy as they cared for people they had never met before. For me, there has always been something special about nurses and their roles, a feeling that I’ve never had when meeting other healthcare professionals. They have a very unique way of caring and have the opportunity to make such a difference to their patient’s with each and every interaction.
I would watch them rushing around the ward, keeping to a strict schedule and routine but able to handle any curve balls that are thrown their way. ‘I could never do their job’ I used to think to myself as I lay on a hospital bed with cannulas in my veins, hooked up to machines. As much as I wanted to become a nurse, I never entertained the thought. The reason for this was due my diabetes control (or lack of). Having uncontrolled diabetes in the way I did left me feeling physically exhausted from the moment I woke up.
In the 10 years that I didn’t control my diabetes there wasn’t one day that I felt well, due to such high blood glucose levels. The symptoms, the ketones and the emotions that came with it were all too much for me, but at that stage I had given up hope of doing anything at all. Recalling those 10 years I spent a huge amount of my time battling through the days, only looking forward to the moment I would get home and be able to close my eyes and go to sleep. How could I ever be a nurse when I was feeling this way?
That all changed three years ago when I became involved in diabetes advocacy. At that time, supporting others was my main reason for getting back on track – I needed to keep myself as well as I could to help others with diabetes. Feeling better in myself was just a bonus! My advocacy work soon led to me working with health care professionals and realising what a difference I could make if I became one of them. So I knuckled down; I completed a course and exams, finishing with the highest grades in my cohort.
I was then accepted to all five of my university choices, choosing to study locally so that I could continue the work I had started with my diabetes team. This year I’ve passed my exams, essays and placements with top marks; juggled my diabetes, various health care projects, my social life, my work life and am fast approaching the end of my first year as a student nurse. I’ve done everything possible to get to the stage I’m at and can now see that diabetes won’t get in the way of me becoming the best nurse I can.
I feel that having diabetes will set me apart and benefit me because I have that insight into what it really feels like to be a patient, to be given a diagnosis, to self manage a condition and trust others to care for me properly. Combined with my training and on-going experience, I know that I can make a big difference. I would love to become a diabetes specialist nurse – to stand alongside consultants and deliver patient-focused care. I never thought I would say it but, I CAN do that.
Thanks for reading