Dim ond yng Nghaerdydd

What do you mean, you're disabled?

I have a secret.

It’s the worst kept secret in the history of secrets though. Everybody (well, everybody I know) already knows it.

The secret is this: I have type 1 diabetes.

*Gasp!*

This means my pancreas stopped producing insulin, a hormone used to get glucose from your blood into your cells (around my 8th birthday, actually; great present, pancreas!) and so I have to inject it myself.

A real pancreas

It’s actually a lot more complicated than that, and the upshot is.. I technically am disabled. People often scoff when they find out, saying things like ‘you’re not disabled!’ ‘you’re perfectly capable!’ and the reality is, 98% of the time I am a (almost) fully functioning human being with a machine attached that beeps occasionally (my insulin pump, Derek, in case you were wondering).

This is what mine looks like, but this isn't actually my one because my camera won't upload pictures at the moment..

Derek the insulin pump looks like this. My pancreas beeps, what can yours do?

The other 2% of the time though, my blood glucose is either too high, in which case I am grumpy and irritable, I can’t focus and I forget to do things like inject and make myself better, or my blood glucose is too low, which in the short term is much more dangerous because I grow confused and shaky, forget things like what I should do (how to swallow, drink and loss of motor skills are the most scary) or my Mum’s number so I can call for help. It’s in this 2% of the time that it is most obvious that I need extra support. Thankfully, because this happens and the government acknowledges that, I can (and do!) get a lot of support for things like taking notes, storing my medication and little things like that.

I had to apply for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) after I had got my letter from Student Finance. There was an assessment of needs and a lovely chat with my co-ordinator Patricia where we agreed what I’d get. The most important one (for me, anyways) was my little fridge, which sits under my desk. In this fridge I have 6 boxes containing vials of insulin and several bottles of Lucozade (because it tastes better when it’s cold and hypo-Elli prefers cold Lucozade). Occasionally it might have some chocolate in it as well 😉 I also get extended deadlines in case I have been too high or too low and so can’t work, extra exam time in case I go high or low in an exam, and I’m allowed to re-take exams without the 40% cap-rate (a pass) if I had a particularly bad day or week preceding the exams.

Really though, all it means is that I have extra support so that I can complete my University education just like any one else, and do all the student-y things I would like to. Personally, it has taken me a while to adjust to the whole ‘going out’ thing, but that’s a personal preference. I actually plan to do a pub crawl in the near future (probably after exams!) so that I can evaluate the best pubs for my new role as SSAGS Pub Officer 😉

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