It is 20 years since mother-of-two Holly Davies was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
She remembers it well. It was the night in May 1997 when Labour won the general election and the day before she was due to go on a camping holiday with friends.
The 34-year-old, from Gilmerton, said: “I had a cousin with type 1 diabetes who was diagnosed when he was 18 months old and knew something of how my life would change, but the great thing was that the hospital encouraged me to do all the things I had planned, including going on the camping trip. I remember phoning the diabetes nurse from a payphone over the weekend to ask about my injections.”
It was also the start of a journey that has seen her support many families living with the condition and raise jundreds of pounds funds for type 1 diabetes research charity JDRF to help find the cure.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition that occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Holly’s symptoms came on gradually. Her mum thought something wasn’t quite right and a routine urine dip test revealed she had type 1 diabetes.
As a teenager Holly would need to inject insulin four or five times a day. She would test her blood glucose with finger pricks another four times a day. Twenty years on, she wakes in the night when her blood glucose level needs attention, monitors her glucose levels as many as 13 times a day and weighs nearly everything she eats, to work out the carbohydrate content so she can inject insulin accordingly.
But it is not something that has ever held her back. After a gap year abroad, Holly decided she wanted a career in the charity sector. She worked for Oxfam as a fundraiser and then joined JDRF in 2012, where she is now the development manager. She said: “My role is primarily as a fundraiser. I don’t fundraise for myself, but for children who have been diagnosed as there is a desperate need for a cure. But as most of our volunteers are parents with children with type 1 diabetes, I’m also someone who can listen, understand and support.
“I also learn a lot from them. I will watch the stress on parents’ faces as they try to give their child the most normal childhood possible. Parents who are continually called into school because of their child’s condition. Parents who check their child’s blood glucose every few hours at night just to make sure they are alive in the morning. This is a condition that is constant and draining.”
Holly considers herself lucky. She now manages her type 1 diabetes with a flash glucose sensor and an insulin pump – technology only available because of the type of medical research funded by JDRF.
Earlier this month, Holly took part in JDRF’s Central Scotland One Walk – a 5km fundraiser at Strathclyde Country Park which has so far raised omore than £15,000.
Holly added: “As we raise funds for JDRF it would be my hope that Scotland’s research community plays an ever increasing role. A cure would mean an end to the constant thinking, adjusting, calculating, measuring, worrying and stress that is a part of every person with type 1’s life.”