Over the last few days I’ve seen a few messages from public facing people in all walks of life signing off for the year with mainly negative phrases:
“What a terrible year that was!”
“Glad to see the back of 2020!”
“Good riddance to a bad year!”
“Can we promise to wipe 2020 from history?”
First up the obvious bad. A lot of people will experiencing Christmas without a special someone for the very first time. This will be an even tougher time of year for them. The amount of people who have passed away earlier than expected cannot be ignored, or dismissed. Covid-19 is certainly a ruthless virus that has greatest effect on those with the smallest defence against whatever the body throws at them. And at times I’ve feared I, and members of my family, were in the often named group of 'vulnerable' people.
Our family has been very fortunate in that none of us have been in a situation where we have felt the need to test or isolate. A few of our extended family have isolated as a precaution but nothing positive confirmed at any stage.
For us without doubt the biggest hit has been the inability to see close family apart from very occasional garden visits. This break has been hard emotionally as there’s nothing like a hug from those you love when feeling a little wobbly.
A late blow to the stomach has been the closure of international travel meaning a Christmas gift planned for delivery this week is stuck somewhere on the wrong side of the English Channel and it probably won’t arrive until the New Year.
But let’s have a look at what has happened and how, even in what appears to be darkness, we have plenty of rays of light shining through.
Chez Sowerby 2020 has definitely had some highlights. Including:
- More time spent with immediate family means more time to get done those things that always seemed to get delayed. The back garden had a bit of a makeover and we look forward to being able to have people round to enjoy it with us soon.
- The one hour of exercise in the first lockdown definitely encouraged us to explore the local area and we had some great walks out, especially when the weather was wonderful. I know we are very fortunate to have these sights within 10 minutes walk and therefore have it much easier than others without the access we do.
- I’ve worked at home at least 3 days a week for nearly 15 years now. With everyone else being forced to too it has strangely made me feel more connected to my colleagues than ever before with regular Pod meetings definitely helping.
- Connecting online with distant family is something we hardly ever did previously but the occasional quizzes of 2020 gave us chance to do that in a way we’d never have done before. We’re looking forward to doing one final 2020 one this week.
- We had an amazing holiday in the north of Scotland where we managed to escape the continuous news for a week to enjoy the scenery, wildlife and surprisingly great weather. It was a real tonic after 6 months of not going out, going out, not going to work, going to work, ……
- We took the chance to splash around on the canal.
- We even found some good football moments. There weren’t a lot of games played but memories were still created to be looked back on in years to come.
- Our nephew got married to his wonderful bride in August. It was in doubt all through the year but they managed to organise a perfect celebration even with restrictions involved. Facebook Live streaming to us all stood outside followed by Prosecco and photos in the churchyard afterwards made it a very special. And with the most junior bridesmaid rocking a Dexcom with style we were very proud.
Which bring us on to diabetes. The end of 2019 was tough in the house with Martha’s diagnosis. But 2020 enabled her, and us, to learn how to get a handle on the condition and how to deal with wobbles. We’ll not eliminate them but we know how to cope and understand that there’s never blame attached to highs and lows; it’s just how it goes sometimes. And then half way through the year the extra cannonball of coeliac and going gluten-free arrived. That was, strangely, almost harder to handle. But she did, and she did it fantastically well. I must also say the support of the diabetes community has continued to be priceless for us and I thank you all.
Reduced activities provided an initial issue with numbers for both Martha and I, but as life became very repetitive and regular it also became easier to manage once the tweaks had been made.
Diabetes tech has still been advancing and people such as Tim at Diabettech, and Kamil at Nerdabetic have done a great job of keeping everyone up to date. The future is so exciting and the great thing is that it’s for all treatment types. For so long everyone has been talking about pumps and CGMs only. Now more and more the next generation of insulin pens are also getting written and talked about. In the UK access to technology is slowly improving and future initiatives seem to be making this a more available reality rather than a dream.
At the start of the year when the virus was first emerging I was very lucky to be able to get to ATTD in Madrid. However since then all those types of events have flipped online. I’ve also been fortunate to contribute to some of them through either presenting or taking part in discussions with other people with diabetes. Even when speaking I always learn something from them and the value of the question and answer segments should never been downplayed. Also having them forced to be moved online has made access much easier for those of us not located in a big city. I hope this can continue in some way even when movement is free once again.
While in Lockdown #1 the wonderful Jen asked me to be part of her Type 1 on 1 Podcast series. It was a great therapy session and I really enjoyed looking back at my life with diabetes and also how it affected us all when Martha was diagnosed.
New diabetes technology is being launched all the time and I look forward to being able to, hopefully, try some of it out very soon. When I do I’ll share here whether it works for me or not.
2020 has definitely been a year for the family and I feel very lucky to have my most wonderful wife and children to share it with.
If you’re reading this, and have got this far (well done!), the challenges of 2020 will have affected you in your own personal way. We've each had fences to overcome and for some those fences are still being climbed over. I really do hope though that you can also see your own moments of light in what is commonly viewed as being a completely dark year.
And yes, it’s slightly disappointing not to have that last gift wrapped and ready for Christmas Day but it will be something to look forward to in what can be a wonderful 2021.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!