Darren Badenhuizen – wake up and try again

Darren Badenhuizen, DSA PE management board secretary and joint co-ordinator of the DSA Young Guns, tells us more about his journey of managing Type 1 diabetes.

Darren Badenhuizen (39) stays in Port Elizabeth. He is in a relationship with Paula Thom and has a 11-year-old daughter.

Diagnosed in the UK

I was living in London, UK, in 2007, when I got sick. I was ill for a while and thought I would get better eventually. I thought I had flu, not knowing anything about diabetes. I lost a lot of weight and was weak. I struggled to climb up stairs and urinated a lot. Luckily at that time my mother came to visit friends in the UK. I fetched her from the airport. She was shocked to see what state I was in and dragged me to the hospital. At age 24, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and remained in hospital for three days. They called me a medical miracle as I wasn’t in a coma with a glucose reading of 36.  The doctor prescribed me Lantus and NovoRapid insulin which I still currently take.

A week later, I came back to South Africa. I was upset as it wasn’t on the cards to come back yet. It was only my fourth year living and working as a carpenter in London. But I suppose life obviously had other plans.

Took a while to accept

Honestly, I didn’t handle my diagnosis well. I was 24 and was only living on my long-acting insulin for a while. I don’t think I was educated enough in the UK with the five minute session with a diabetic nurse educator. It took me a long time to accept and understand that I had diabetes as I was set in my ways.

I struggle to think of a positive of living with diabetes and wouldn’t wish this on anyone. The reality is that a person with diabetes always has to consider their diabetes in whatever they do. Diabetes is hard but all you can do is wake up in the morning and try again.

DSA Port Elizabeth

In 2018, a friend was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she fell pregnant and wanted to get involved with DSA. She invited me to go with her to meet up with Paula Thom, who is the co-ordinator of DSA Young Guns. I learnt that there is a group for youngsters living with diabetes. This was very interesting; I wish I had been part of a group like this when I was diagnosed. So, I started attending these get-togethers and that’s how I got involved in DSA Young Guns.

I like to joke that my role is the muscle but I assist Paula with organising the events. I have also been co-opted onto the DSA management board as the secretary.

Being part of this group has enriched my life as I have met many other people living with Type 1 diabetes.

Dating another Type 1

Being in a relationship with someone who also has Type 1 diabetes has its benefits like being able to speak to someone at any time about anything and they understand what you’re going through and where you’re coming from without even having to say that much as they have had something similar at some point or just yesterday.

It also helps with small things, like getting your injection for a meal and then getting theirs too, or doing your long-acting shot and checking if they have done theirs.

Those little things all add up and make it easier which some non-diabetic might not get. Though, I don’t think both having diabetes automatically makes the relationship easier, you still have to work at it but it definitely doesn’t hurt.

Ready for spring

I’m looking forward to spring as it’s a season closer to summer and then I don’t stand out so much for always wearing shorts. I prefer to wear shorts as it’s easier to inject in my thighs.

World Diabetes Day

Megan Soanes, the DSA Port Elizabeth fundraising manager, is organising a walk in and around Port Elizabeth. I’m hoping to spend it with many other Type 1s.

Darren Badenhuizen