The UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revealed that she was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it,” she said. “It started last November. I’d had a bad cold and cough for quite a few weeks. I went to my GP and she did a blood test which showed I’d got a very high sugar level – that’s what revealed the diabetes.
“The symptoms are tiredness, drinking a lot of water, losing weight, but it’s difficult to isolate things. I was drinking a lot of water. But I do anyway. There was weight loss but then I was already making an effort to be careful about diet and to get my gym sessions in.”
The Home Secretary says she has been told that she will have to inject herself with insulin twice a day for the rest of her life–but she has no fear of needles and intends to carry on in her Cabinet post.
Mrs May’s determination to get on with her life reminds me of my mother, Molly Ellis.
Molly was diagnosed with Type 1 aged 38 in 1953.
She too injected herself twice a day for the rest of her life.
Eventually she died of a sudden heart attack linked to her condition–but she made it to 67–almost 30 years with Type 1 diabetes–and in those days treatment was not as advanced as it is now.
Molly was not a professional politician–and the cabinet she loved best was hanging in a corner! But she carried on leading a full life, running the household and raising three boys.
The last six years of her life were spent in a Buckinghamshire village called Brill–not too far from Oxford. She and Dad retired there from London. They threw themselves into village life and were much appreciated for it.
I’d wager that not many in the village, apart from her doctor, John Spence, knew she was diabetic–and few would have understood what it meant.
She never liked to make a fuss.
Her heart attack happened one morning as she was finishing dressing to go shopping. Her heart finally gave up after years of struggle.
Her gift to me was an understanding of how damaging diabetes can be if ignored. When I received my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in my mid-fifties, I took it seriously, thanks to witnessing my mother’s journey.
There’s still a shocking ignorance surrounding the condition.
Theresa May’s high profile and very public admission that she is Type 1 helps focus attention on and heighten awareness of this ruthless and insidious menace.