I had just started the job of my dreams as a visual merchandiser. We were hanging up the Christmas garlands for Hackett London on Sloane Square. I turned to my manager and said I have to go to hospital. He looked shocked, the busiest night of the year and I'm pulling a sicky. My insides felt like they were going to explode. I had been ignoring the pain all week but tonight was different. I headed to Chelsea and Westminster A&E. The doctors could not for the life of them work out what was wrong with me. With 3 days in hospital and numerous tests I was sent home. I can honestly say that there is nothing more frustrating than being told there is nothing wrong with you when you are in agony. I then received a phone call from a trainee doctor who told me they think I'm diabetic and to go straight back to hospital.
I had just moved to east London a couple of weeks earlier so found myself in an unfamiliar part of London. Ive never felt so alone as I did when I sat in Homerton A&E. My parents were on holiday, my two brothers were out of London otherwise they would have been there in a shot. Unfortunately this was something I had to do alone, I would like to say it made me stronger and made me who I am today. But I can't , it broke me. Sat alone with no one coming still hurts to this day.
I woke up in Homerton hospital with a nurse called Mariam holding insulin pens at the end of my bed. She softly explained that I would have to learn to inject myself 4 times a day. Prick my finger to draw blood and take blood tests daily. Learn how to control hypo's (low glucose) and hypers (high glucose) . I had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which my pancreas no longer produced insulin. This was too much information to take in. How can I get diabetes at 26? How did this happen? Why did no one realise before. Looking back now I believe my diabetes was brought on by auto immune disease. Often triggered by a trauma, your body starts to attack itself and can damage vital organs. My life at that point was already up in the air. I had broken up with my boyfriend of 4 years, my grandmother who I was very close to sadly passed away. I decided to move up East to escape a previous life that I didn't fit into anymore. Could stress have really been a factor into my body attacking itself?
I went back to work with my bag of needles and insulin . Confused, in denial, but putting on a brave face. As a team we travelled to Florence, Milan, Dublin and Paris working on shows, showrooms and store visuals. I was given the opportunity to go to Tokyo for 10 days opening up the new Showroom there. I didn't have time to be diabetic. I was too busy, too young, too free to be held down by blood tests and injections.
My diagnosis came at a really bad time in my life. I wasn't ready for it, I didn't allow myself to accept it. My control was out of control and I started to become extremely ill again. But then I met Tommy. He was the Visual Manager for Europe. We met in Florence setting up for Pitti Uomo. He came at the right time, he stuck by me and got me through that really tough beginning. He even gave me my injections when I was too upset to do them. You just need that one person that gets your weakness, one person to understand. No one should ever have to anguish on their own. Call the diabetic nurses, tell a friend your struggling, take control. That was nearly 10 years ago, I am now planning on getting a pump so I no longer have to take injections. Life has got busy again. With two kids and a new business I need to remember to look after myself.