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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Cardiff doctor with type 1 diabetes goes the extra mile for Diabetes UK Cymru

Benjamin Jelley, the Cardiff doctor, smiling

Benjamin Jelley, a consultant at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has run more than 20 miles and raised over £300 for Diabetes UK Cymru this Winter.

Coping with the coronavirus pandemic

Benjamin, 38, originally from Abergavenny was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was four years old. He specialises in the care and rehabilitation of patients who have had a stroke and decided to take part in the Month of Miles Challenge to raise money and awareness of diabetes, after a difficult period as a clinician working in the NHS during the pandemic.

He said:

“Coronavirus has been challenging for all of us. The first day I drove to work after the Spring lockdown started, I was filled with mixed emotions not only because of the eerie nature of how empty the streets, but the unknown I faced as a clinically vulnerable key worker. I continued to work throughout with adapted patterns of work that my team in CAVUHB helped me to formulate. I am grateful to them for that and it allowed me to keep a vital service functioning through a very difficult period."

“I want to ensure that future generations may not have to go through the same challenges I faced growing up. Sometimes people are made to feel that diabetes is a disability and stops them from achieving what they want, but I’ve learnt that pretty much anything is possible as long as you research, plan and create a safety net in case of blips.” 

Getting active

Benjamin used the advice from our website and his Diabetes team about how to plan for exercise sessions depending on Insulin On Board (IOB) and pre-exercise blood glucose (sugar) levels.

 “My routine had become very sedentary. Although I managed to lose 2 and a half stones last year and discovered that when I did, my glycaemic control improved dramatically, I’d lost my “reserve”. So, I decided to use this challenge to build up my “reserve” again so I can get back to swimming and cycling which I miss very much."

He got his fitness back by starting to run with the NHS 'Couch to 5K' programme through the free app and using a treadmill at home.

“This has helped me not to push too hard too fast in the early phases of training and therefore has made managing my blood sugars around exercise much more achievable than before.”

Using diabetes technology

Benjamin also found that technology helps him manage his condition and keep healthy and fit. He now hopes to continue to increase his fitness levels and take up new challenges, such as swimming and cycling.

“Due to the challenges of managing a busy and erratic job and striving to improve my management of the condition, it was recommended by my Diabetes team that I move to an insulin pump in 2008. I am currently managing my diabetes with an Omnipod insulin pod and a Dexcom G6 glucose sensor. The use of tech has become the mainstay of my diabetes control and would be lost without it! I use my iPhone to receive the Dexcom G6 readings. This then feeds to my watch so I have a constant ability to check my blood sugar levels at all times of day. The days of waiting 2 minutes for a reading are in the distant past!”

We have been campaigning for more access to diabetes technology in Wales and hosted the Type 1 and Tech Conference on Zoom on World Diabetes Day, which can now be watched on YouTube.

Dai Williams, our National Director said:

“We are so grateful that people like Benjamin and other healthcare professionals help us by raising funds and awareness, particularly during the pandemic, considering how busy they are. In this case, it’s really positive to see the benefits of diabetes tech in action and it does work very well for some people. Our role is to support those who want to use it in their daily lives, in school, work or when exercising.”

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