Ed Gamble (pictured)
Ed Gamble was a typical 13-year-old going about his daily life, blissfully unaware of the Type 1 diabetes bubbling away beneath the surface. Now 33 and a successful stand-up comedian, he discusses his battle with regulating the condition that has, at times, been at odds with his hectic career.
Q: How did you find out you had Type 1 diabetes?
A: I was constantly thirsty and drinking a lot of water, which is a common consequence of having high blood sugar levels. I’d then be going to the toilet a lot, which is when my mum noticed something was up. I’m glad she did as I’ve always been a bit useless at spotting things like that! Luckily, she had been a nurse and knew what to be looking out for.
Q: How did that affect your day-to-day?
A: Being diagnosed when I was 13 was something of an advantage, as I could adapt my life to being a Type 1 diabetic. Being diagnosed at 33 would have been tough, as getting used to what is a 24-hour job, in terms of keeping track of your blood sugar levels, would be much harder with all that life behind you.
Now, I have a much better quality of life because I’m more focused on my diabetes. Yes, it’s more work, but I feel a lot better about it.
There are so many environmental factors that can affect your blood sugar levels. I can inject exactly the right amount of insulin for a meal I’ve just eaten, yet one day I’ll be fine and the next day my levels will go crazy high or crazy low.
Q: How do you keep track of your blood sugar levels?
A: I am very lucky in that I’m no longer forced to take blood samples for readings manually. Hammering a pin into the end of my finger 10 times a day or more is less than ideal.
Now though, I use a constant blood glucose monitor by which a sensor in my stomach sends readings via a transmitter in my skin directly to an app on my phone. That gives me my readings so I can alter my insulin and food intake.
This one change has made such an enormous difference to me personally, as someone whose job doesn’t involve much routine. I really think this should be available on the NHS – it’s made my life so much easier.
Q: What affects your diabetes most in your life as a stand-up comedian?
A: Adrenaline can affect my blood sugar levels, which is obviously a bit of a pain in my line of work. Before a show, my blood sugar level might be quite high and then, due to the adrenaline of going out and performing, it’ll often be two hours after the show finishes and then it’ll just plummet.
I also have to make sure I’m looking after myself far more than I used to. I went through a stage when I was younger of binge eating and drinking, not really focusing on what I was doing to my body and my diabetes suffered as a result of that. Now, I have a much better quality of life because I’m more focused on my diabetes. Yes, it’s more work, but I feel a lot better about it.