EVIE Cousins was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 11. Now 13, she is among more than 2,500 people living with Type 1 diabetes in Oxfordshire, and 300,000 across the UK.
Evie knows she was lucky to be diasgnosed as quickly as she was.
Her weight had plummeted to below four and half stones and doctors revealed that just two more weeks without treatment could have seen her slip into a coma and die.
She explained: “I can never forget how ill I was. I thought I was dying.
“Everything was numb and achy and I was really thirsty all the time and drinking at least 10 pints of water a day.”
She continued: “When the doctors at the JR told us I had diabetes, I had no idea what it was and I felt too ill to be scared. But now I am older I am more aware of the consequences.”
Diabetes is a condition when there is too much glucose in the blood caused by the pancreas producing none or not enough of the hormone insulin.
Insulin opens the body’s cells so glucose can enter them. Without this, the body is unable to use glucose as a fuel and potentially lethal levels of glucose build up in the blood.
Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin at all and everyone with Type 1 has to be treated daily with insulin.
Evie’s mum Emma Anderson, 45, said: “We have no idea why Evie developed diabetes.
“Our doctor says it could have been a virus, but whatever happened this has been a very difficult two years.
“It was terrifying to learn Evie could have died.
“We have had to make many changes to our everyday lives.”
If diabetes is properly managed, people with the condition can live long and healthy lives. But if not, it can lead to blindness, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and even early death.
Ms Anderson added: “Evie is now very lucky to have an Omnipod, a very up-to-date, wireless pump fitted to her body which constantly drips insulin into her bloodstream and does away with the need for injections. But we still have to be very vigilant of her blood sugar levels and, of course, what she eats and how much she sleeps and exercises, because all these affect her levels too.”
Every meal and snack’s carbohydrate count has to be worked out and fed into Evie’s Omnipod so it can adjust the insulin being administered.
‘Lows’ in blood sugar levels can cause a horrible taste in the mouth and dizziness.
While ‘highs’ can cause headaches, mood swings and stomach pain.
“Popping into a shop for a cake or treat isn’t really an option anymore,” said Ms Anderson.
“I also spend a great deal of time studying labels to work out carb contents. And of course Evie is a teenager, just wanting to live a normal life, but diabetes makes that difficult for her.”
Evie said: “The constant blood tests and finger pricks hurt and I have had to give up playing guitar as my fingers hurt.
“The feelings of negativity are also bad. And when I get a bug, I sometimes have to go to hospital for a few days because I can’t control my insulin levels and fluids. “But I feel that you only live once and I will just get on with life.”