Despite showing the classic diabetes symptoms, Home Secretary Theresa May put them down to her hectic schedule during the London 2012 Games. Now diagnosed with Type 1, she reveals how she hasn’t let the condition affect her demanding role.
When she came down with a heavy cold in November 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May’s first thought was that she should get it checked out by her GP. Her husband had just had a similar cold that had developed into bronchitis, so it made sense for her to get it looked at before the same thing happened to her. But she had no idea that this was a visit to the GP that would change her life forever.
While she was there, she mentioned to her GP that she had recently lost a lot of weight, though she hadn’t thought much about it and had put it down to “dashing about” in her role as Home Secretary. But the GP decided to do a blood test anyway. Suddenly, she was being told that she had diabetes.
The news came as a shock, though looking back she realises she had some of theclassic symptoms. As well as the weight loss, she was drinking more water than usual and making more frequent trips to the bathroom. But, it wasn’t something she thought about much at the time. “That summer was the Olympics, so life was in a different order,” she says. “There was a lot more going on, so I didn’t really notice.”
“My very first reaction was that it’s impossible because at my age you don’t get it,” she says, reflecting the popular misconception that only younger people get diagnosed with Type 1. In fact, one in five people diagnosed with Type 1 are over 40 when they develop it. “But, then my reaction was: ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to inject’ and thinking about what that would mean in practical terms.”
The change in diagnosis meant switching from taking tablets to two insulin injections per day, which has now increased to four. And while she was already aware of the condition – a cousin developed it as a teenager – like anyone with diabetes, she had to quickly learn what managing it meant in practical terms.
Shows that you can do a very demanding job, even with diabetes.