First of all, apologies for not writing for a while! I’ve (as usual) been really busy and was visiting home last week, which was so lovely. Lots has been going on, so I’ve found it hard to find time to write. However, finally, here we go!
So, a story was brought to my attention a few weeks ago about a girl from my local area who has passed away after neglecting her diabetes.
Natasha Horne was just 20 years old when she died at her friends house from a suspected diabetic coma on August 25th 2018. Prior to this she had also suffered three DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) attacks. She passed away just 2 years after her type 1 diabetes diagnosis after failing to inject insulin and look after herself properly. She hardly informed anyone that she had diabetes and claimed “I don’t do needles”.
Her family are now raising awareness for type 1 diabetes after many failed attempts to help their daughter to deal with her condition correctly. Before Tasha was diagnosed she had gone from a size 22 to a size 10 in just six months, which is unnaturally unhealthy. It’s obvious that this insane weight-loss was fueled by her then un-diagnosed diabetes. Her parents felt that the compliments she received over her rapid weight-loss clouded her judgment and deterred her from injecting insulin and potentially putting weight back on after she was diagnosed. Which was just one of the contributing factors towards her unfortunate passing.
What a tragedy. Such a young life taken because she was unwilling to understand the severity of her condition. It’s difficult to discuss at length because I didn’t know Tasha personally, but there are two ways to look at this situation in my opinion. Was she silly to assume she would be fine without her insulin? OR Should she have been offered more professional help in order to adjust to her new condition?
At the end of the day, Tasha was an adult. She was left in charge of her own medical care and she didn’t seem to understand how serious her diabetes was. Was this down to a lack of information or just her stubborn pride? I really do feel that Tasha wasn’t educated about diabetes and the impacts in can have on your every day life and ultimately, your entire life ahead of you. I don’t blame her for not knowing, because when I was diagnosed I didn’t know a stitch about diabetes. I had to learn everything in very quick succession and it was something that I wanted to learn about. To this day, I am still learning and this is nearly 12 years on from my diagnosis. The difference between her and I, however, is that I was very open about it and always willing to share my story. I was always eager to learn in order to help myself.
It did really seem that Tasha was ashamed of her diagnosis and even embarrassed. It’s as if the invincibility she felt she possessed was breaking down in front of her and she couldn’t accept that, so chose to ignore it in the hope it would go away.
I presume Tasha wasn’t attending her medical appointments either, because if she was then surely her medical team would have intervened and gotten her the help she needed. (Many diabetics that I have spoken to think that there isn’t enough help offered in regards to mental health and diabetes. This really would have been something that Tasha could have benefited from.) You have to be able to process and understand diabetes in order to be able to look after yourself.
I find this whole story utterly devastating. Such a tragic loss of a young life. If only someone could have gotten through to her and really made her understand the consequences of her actions. Unfortunately, now it’s too late.
I really feel that this story just enforces what I’ve been saying all along. The general public are uneducated when it comes to diabetes. People don’t understand it, they don’t know what it is, they don’t know how to deal with it and they don’t know how serious it is. I really do feel like diabetes should be a topic that children learn about in school. Not just in a science lesson, but more so like a sexual education class. It’s not something to be skimmed over, but something that needs to be talked about in detail. If Tasha had been educated about diabetes in school, then maybe this dreadful situation could have been avoided. We will never know.
On another note, less awful that the previous, but still not great, a fellow Young Adults Panel member had an awful experience a few days ago. David was having a hypo and at the time, was in a (very) well known shop. He headed to the section labelled “Diabetic” and was greeted with this:
Now, what can you see here? Yep, you can see tonnes of “diet” related products. What we don’t see here are any blood glucose testers or any hypo treatments whatsoever. How utterly misleading and in my opinion, quite frankly offensive. In his hypo fueled state David removed the sign reading ‘diabetic’ as he has and still does, find this section of the shop offensive too. The duty manager advised him not to come into the shop and told him she is also type 1 and doesn’t find it offensive.
It infuriates me because it’s just heightening the misleading information that the media churns out. Everyone who is uneducated about diabetes assumes you get diabetes because you eat badly and you’re overweight. Seeing these diet products in the “diabetes” section really does not help when wanting to quash this stigma. Highly irritating. I won’t say what shop this is, but I’m sure it’s clearly obvious from the signs.
On a lighter note, I have recently shot 2 new videos for Diabetes UK! Finally, some positive diabetes related news! Hurrah! The first video is all about how to inject as an adult and you can watch it here. It was such a lovely shoot to do and I really enjoyed it. The second video was for diabetes and exercise. These videos are available on the Diabetes UK Learning Zone which can be found here. You do have to create an account on the Learning Zone in order to access them, however, when more public links become available I will post them up for you all to see!