Monday, 16 May 2022

Type 1 diabetes: Radio 1Xtra presenter Reece Parkinson on his ‘hidden disability’

Diabetes expert reveals rise of cases in children during pandemic

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Diagnosed while training for his first ultramarathon after getting into running during the first national lockdown, Reece was dealt a hammer blow when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Undeterred, he went on to attempt the ultramarathon.

Although he failed, he released an inspirational documentary titled How Not To Run 55 miles.

Last year, however, he completed that ultramarathon to great aplomb and admiration from people both inside and outside of the diabetes community; this was followed by another documentary titled How To Run 50 miles.

How does it feel, you might wonder, to be diagnosed with diabetes as a fit, young, individual training for a massive physical undertaking?

Reece explained: “Obviously [it] was a huge shock. And then after that, there was kind of like, a really strange feeling of kind of feeling, like I was emasculated [weakened]. I felt like I wasn’t as strong as I was before.

“And that kind of mentally took kind of my brain to a space of like, what I need to prove that I am in a sense, and I’m the sort of person that kind of hates relying on other people to get stuff done.”

It was this mental strength and determination that allowed Reece to continue with his preparations for the ultramarathon and what ultimately contributed to his success in the endeavour.

Asking about how he felt about type 1 diabetes now he was a type 1 diabetic, the Express asked if he felt there should be more awareness about diabetes and living with the condition.

“Yes! 1,000 percent. I think more because, it’s like a hidden disability. And it’s a hidden disability, which doesn’t help.”

Diabetes UK says that type 1 Diabetes is included in the Equality Act in 2010 – meaning that it is described as an unseen disability under government legislation – that helps to prevent against discrimination.

Reece said: “It would be great if people had more understanding around it, which would make life, and living with it, a lot easier, especially for those that have it.”

On the ultramarathon and how his approach to completing it changed, Reece said: “I was determined to not let [diabetes] destroy me.”

When it came to completing the ultramarathon, Reece had the help of his producer who “brought loads of food that would get [his] levels up all the time [which meant his] levels stayed great during the run”.

What advice would Reece give to people who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and wanted to do endurance events similar to the one he undertook?

“I would say be prepared food wise. Bring more food and drink than you need just in case you go low. Whether you’ve got somebody in your family that can kind of drive there and help you if you did get low.”

Reece isn’t planning to stop at long distance running just because he’s completed an ultramarathon; plans are afoot for 2022.

“I really want to do a marathon overseas [or] doing 100 miles instead of 50 miles,” Reece revealed.

Whatever Reece decides, through his ultramarathons and the subsequent documentaries, he is proving an inspiration to many and shining a light on a condition that affects millions of people in the UK.

More information about diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, is available on the Diabetes UK and NHS websites.

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