Today is about numbers. 

I am celebrating 23 years of living with diabetes.

8539 days of living with diabetes.

1,537,020* diabetes decisions.

It’s no wonder diabetes is so exhausting. 

Today is also about the number 98, because 98 years ago, diabetes became commercially available for the first time. This was all very much in my mind in the middle of last night when I was wide awake, not because I was dealing with my own diabetes, but rather because I was speaking at the World Health Organisation launch of its new Global Diabetes Compact. 

This year is all about the number 100, celebrating the centenary of insulin…100 years since 4 scientists, Banting, Best, Macleod and Collip, discovered insulin – the reason I am alive today.

There is a lot to celebrate, but at the same time, there is a lot we need to acknowledge that isn’t so great. People with diabetes are still dying because they cannot access insulin and other drugs, diabetes consumables and healthcare. The number 12 is also relevant, because it remains the average number of months that a child born in sub-Saharan Africa will live once diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. 

I don’t know the number of diabetes friends I have, but, damn, that number, and the people included in there, is one of the most important for me. The 4 diabetes friends who continue to keep a diabetes group chat alive every single day give me life, even if we are so many miles away.

The numbers 1 and 2 are important, but they are not the only numbers that refer to the different types of diabetes.

As I type, the number 5.4 is showing on my Loop app, and so is 3, representing how much insulin remains in my pump which means I’ll need to take 5 minutes to refill my cannula.

My husband and daughter are the 2 people in my world who see my diabetes all the time, support me through it, love with despite it. There is no numerical way I can define how much their love means to me. (And the 2 dogs and 1 cat couldn’t care less about it…!)

Today is also about the number 1. Me. This year isn’t a particularly monumental diaversary number – it’s not one that ends in a 0 or a 5 which seem to be the ones that I celebrate more. And yet, I do feel that it is worth acknowledging and celebrating. Which I’ll do – in between the 180 diabetes-related decisions I’ll be making.

1 strident, and generally shambolic, woman with diabetes.

*When I calculated the number of diabetes-related decisions I have made over the last 23 years, I automatically started singing ‘Seasons of Love’. Here is my beautiful friend, Melissa Lee’s stunning diabetes version of this song. (I cry every time I watch it, so I advise having some tissues handy!)