In May 2005, I got the call from my wife that would change my life forever.
My daughter Darcey, who was three, had been taken down to the local doctor’s surgery. My wife, Linzie, had been told that Darcey had very high sugar levels and dangerously high levels of ketones – and that she had to be admitted to hospital immediately. After an anxious arrival at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, we watched – enveloped by the confusion and horror of seeing our daughter surrounded by doctors, whilst not really understanding what was going on.
It turned out that Darcey had Type 1 Diabetes.
Despite the fact the diagnosis explained why Darcey had been showing some of the symptoms we now know about, it was a nasty shock. We knew very little about the condition and its implications. What we did know, was that we intended to keep Darcey’s life as normal as possible – and that nothing would stop us in our endeavour to do this.
We were due to depart for Disneyland in five days. And we were going. How could we not? Darcey had been ticking the days off the calendar for the last six months.
And so, (contrary to the doctors’ advice) the crash course on blood sugar monitoring and the administration of insulin through syringe injection began. The medical staff from the Infirmary were fantastic, and guided us through this very tough initial period via numerous telephone calls day and night.
Although we try very hard not to let our life change, for Darcey and for us, it is now very different.
Type 1 Diabetes is a condition in which the human body’s immune system destroys the body’s own cells that produce insulin, rendering the person’s body with no control over the sugar levels that build up in the blood. Should Darcey’s blood sugar levels go too low, she could pass out or in the worst instance, fall into a coma. If her levels run consistently high, she runs the risk of developing complications such as blindness, kidney disease and heart disease, amongst others.
As such, Darcey, and all children with Type 1 Diabetes, require multiple injections of insulin daily just to keep them alive. They must monitor everything they eat and drink, and balance this with insulin. They are required to check their blood sugar levels by pricking their finger with a special needle and testing their blood through a monitor between 8 to 12 times every day.
Sounds straightforward enough eh?
Try blood testing and injecting a three year old little girl, who has tiny fingers, can’t sit still, and has no idea what is happening to her. Perhaps not so straightforward after all…
It was at this time, we discovered JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the work they do. We have progressively become more involved with the charity: Every year, we gather a squad of family and friends to raise money and take part in the Annual Walk in Aberdeen. As well as supporting many other events, Linzie is heavily involved in the organisation of the Annual Ball – a big fundraiser for the charity which takes months of planning.
Our friends regularly don their charity hats to attend events and to raise money, and our extended families – and their friends – are involved too. From volunteering and giving their time, to running to raise money, to simply sponsoring an event. They are wonderfully supportive because, like us, they know that given the right push – momentum will gather, and that one day we might just make an inroad to finding a cure.
This of course leads us to my Expedition. We are ‘Climbing for a Cure’.
Over the next two years, myself and my climbing partner Radek Dusatko, intend to summit three major mountains: Mont Blanc (Largest mountain in Western Europe), Aconcagua (Largest mountain in South America) and of course Mount Everest (Largest mountain in the world!)
We are climbing to raise a significant sum to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
This expedition, and its training, will be completely self-funded. We have made the decision that all costs will be covered personally by us. This means that all monies received through sponsorship and donations will go directly to finding a cure.
We are sure you’ll understand why this is so important to us, and to every other family who lives with Type 1 Diabetes. So, please help us out to raise as much money as we can. There is no cure.