Remember my nightmare experience where a simple blood test took 3 hours? Today, I got the results back. After waiting over a month for the doctors to ring me about my follow up appointment, I called to ask what was going on. Seems like I have good track record of slipping through the cracks of medical records. This happened while waiting for my pill cam results about my anaemia as well. Sneaky ninja, I am.
As my name was called out, my stomach twisted around in knots. Firstly he asked how I went with the tests. Naturally I said ‘It was terrible’ and elaborated about my field trip of a morning. ‘Well, I think the tests were well worth it,’ he says. ‘Oh crap…here we go,’ I thought nervously.
‘Your pancreas is a dud,’ he said quite bluntly. Cheers mate, tell me something I don’t already know. But he did. He proceeded to explain the test results. The test was to see how my pancreas would react (in terms of insulin production) after a load of glucagon (a naturally producing hormone that raises your blood glucose levels).
So at baseline, my c-peptide, which is an indicator of my natural insulin production, is already pretty low. After 6mins, you can see that it has increased slightly. So I am producing insulin, just not enough for my day to day use. In a normal functioning pancreas, that number for the c-peptide, after being injected with glucagon, is meant to be greater than 1. So what that all means is that I am insulin deficient. Given my other ‘symptoms’ at my time of diagnosis (lean, young, fairly healthy and active) and response to diabetes management treatments (not responding well to tablets, but Hba1c dramatically improved after starting insulin), I have the typical signs of a type 1. But of course I have no antibodies and I didn’t have they typical genotype in type 1, which makes me an odd one.
In summary, my doctor thinks that if I were to stop taking my insulin, my pancreas would go downhill. So it may be that I’m a super slow onset of type 1. He said it’s good that my diabetes was picked up early before I ended up in hospital because of it. Hopefully, because I started insulin early on, my pancreas will keep ‘chugging along’ (his words!) and remain fairly stable. In other words, my doc is comfortable to classify me as having atypical type 1 diabetes. That’s not to say that in the future, research could uncover something that would mean I have a completely different sort.
What does this mean for me personally? Coming out from the clinic, I felt almost numb. Should I be happy that I can finally get a pump or upset that I can’t be a voice for the type 2 community? How do I tell people about it? After being a strong advocate for pump access for everyone with diabetes and suddenly being able to get one just like that, feels surreal (and like I’ve somehow cheated the system). But this doesn’t mean I will stop advocating for equal pump access for everyone with diabetes on insulin. It also doesn’t mean that I will stop fighting to reduce the stereotyping and bullying that goes on across the two main classifications of diabetes. My goal from the Diabetes Social Media Summit to see everyone with diabetes come together as a community, working towards a common goal, hasn’t changed one bit. My passion for improving social support for young adults with diabetes hasn’t changed. Well, I’m still the same person I was yesterday. My goals, dreams, beliefs and thoughts are the same. The only thing that has changed is my diabetes classification. Sneaky pancreas, I have.