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Pat's story: My dad's type 2 diabetes put me at high risk

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Pat

Diagnosed with prediabetes.

Even though my dad had diabetes I didn’t know a lot about it, as it wasn’t talked about.

Despite having a family history of diabetes, it was only when Pat had a routine blood test that he realised he had developed prediabetes, putting him at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Diagnosis

Pat's journey with diabetes

  • Told he had prediabetes and was at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes during routine blood tests to monitor high blood pressure.
  • At first he wasn’t too concerned and attempted to lose some weight and start exercising.
  • After three months a follow up blood test showed his HbA1c had not gone down.
  • Lost four stone in weight in under a year by taking up regular exercise and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

 

Diagnosis

I found out that I had prediabetes purely by accident. I have regular blood tests to monitor my blood pressure, and one of these showed that I had an elevated HbA1c level, which meant I was at high risk of type 2 diabetes.

My doctor didn’t really seem too worried, and told me to lose some weight, and come back in three months for another blood test. When I had my blood checked again after the three months, my blood sugar was still higher than the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This meant I was still at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. I was sent to see the diabetes nurse who offered us the chance to go on a healthy living course run by the council.

At the course I met a doctor who was very blunt and honest about what can happen to you when you have diabetes and don’t look after yourself. She explained that if I carried on the way I was, I would develop type 2 diabetes and eventually I could risk losing toes and then a foot, or losing my sight, so this shocked me into action.

Emotions

Dealing with my diagnosis

When I initially found out I was at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, I felt unconcerned because the doctor said ‘not to worry’. However, after three months and with no change in my HbA1c, that changed significantly as I became aware fully of the consequences of type 2 diabetes.

Losing the weight and eating healthily takes a lot of work. Keeping off the weight is hard, I do this by cycling and walking regularly. Typically, I do 4-6 activities per week.

I enjoy food and managing portions can be difficult. We probably haven’t had a takeaway in three years now, apart from the occasional portion of fish and chips. We record all our meals and using diet sheets and use online exercise tracking apps. I’ve also used a calorie counting app in the past to help me keep track of what I’m eating.

Food and healthy eating

Diet, nutrition and active living

My partner Anne came along to the course with me for support and tips, as she does all the cooking for us. While we were there they tested her blood and we found out she was also at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which came as another shock.

We learned all about the traffic light system on food packaging which is a good starting point. Becoming educated on food labelling, which appears on all food packets was massive benefit as we were able to identify highly processed foods and those with high levels of sugar, fat and salt which has helped us make much healthier food choices.

We decided that we were going to try and do more exercise and the first step is really the most important one. We started out with short walks together and built up gradually. I found that I had a passion for cycling, but the first time I went out on the bike, it nearly killed me. I built up my fitness with walking until that started to feel easier. Now I regularly go out and complete longer bike rides of 30 km or more. Anne is more of a walker but she can easily cover 3-4 miles in one go.

Life with diabetes

Support from family and friends

Even though my dad had diabetes I didn’t know a lot about it, as it wasn’t talked about.

Because Anne and I found out we were at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes at about the same time, we have supported each other a lot. We motivate each other to go out for walks which is a big thing.

Anne and I support each other a lot, without her help this journey would not have been so ‘easy’.

Diabetes UK and me

Getting involved

I became involved in fundraising for Diabetes UK because I have quite a competitive side and I wanted to challenge myself. I set myself a goal of £500 that my friends and family helped me raise through sponsorship for my 75-mile cycle ride. It’s important for me to do something to raise awareness and let people know that it’s possible to make lasting changes and prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

Why not try out our Know Your Risk tool and find out if you're at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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