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DIABETES WEEK: An early diagnosis and lifestyle change can help put type 2 diabetes into remission: Bupe's story

Bupe laughing

Bupe

Diagnosed with type 2 during the Covid-19 pandemic

I’m so pleased that in a period of three months I was able to get myself back on track, put my diabetes into remission and maintain it

Bupe was diagnosed with type 2 last year and successfully managed to put her early diagnosis into remission by making changes to her diet and lifestyle.

Diagnosis

Early symptoms of type 2 diabetes

For several months since Christmas 2019 I wasn’t feeling like myself. I was fatigued too often and had migraines. At first, I thought that it was because I was simply tired by working and completing my part-time MSc at the same time. And being a mum, I had to balance family responsibility as well. So, for a little while I didn’t do much about it. But at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, the frequency of the migraines and the fact that I was feeling fatigued by midday started to concern me. I decided to speak to the nurse who did some blood tests. 

Emotions

Being diagnosed was my wake-up call

When the nurse called me a day later saying that the doctor wanted to see me to discuss the results I knew that something wasn’t right and I was a bit scared about it. When I talked to the doctor she said that I had an early diagnosis of diabetes which explained the way I had been feeling. She gave me a lot of information about diet and exercise but it was all things I already knew. 

I already knew I should have been more active. I was constantly sitting down for 6-7 hours a day at work, then I’d come home, prepare dinner and then I’d sit down again working on my assignments and dissertation. This had been my life for the two years I was studying my MSc. And it was now taking a toll on me. 

The conversation with the doctor was a wake-up call for me. As I was leaving the clinic she also said that I had to start taking some medication to bring my blood pressure down. This was something that scared me as well because I had never had any issue with my blood pressure even throughout my two pregnancies. 

I have a family history of people suffering from both high blood pressure and diabetes so to hear these things was an alarm bell to me. 

Food and healthy eating

Changes to food and lifestyle

The good thing was that I had the time to do something about it. The doctor said that it was reversible because I was still at an early stage.  She also prescribed me with medication and was very persistent that I take it. I collected the prescription but I was determined to do it on my own without taking any medication. 

The first thing I did was review my lifestyle. I knew I was spending too much time sitting down and not tracking the amount of exercise I was doing. I also knew that I was eating too late at night and also eating the wrong food. I changed the food I ate and then started to look for local community fit classes, like Zumba, or classes that I could do with my friends because I really liked that social element. 

Whilst I was looking for local classes, I came across this post on Facebook about Diabetes UK’s One Million Step Challenge and thought that this could be the motivation I needed to make sure I logged 10,000 steps a day. I signed up and my husband was very supportive and gifted me a Fitbit to help me track my exercise. 

Activity

Benefits to my wellbeing 

I was fascinated by the data that Fitbit was collecting because I was understanding myself better. It wasn’t just tracking my steps but also my sleeping pattern. And based on that data I could adjust my behaviour, for example, if I wasn’t getting much deep sleep I’d go to bed a bit earlier. Watching the difference that these changes were making to my life was incredible because I could see the improvements on those figures as the days went by. I soon realised that walking gave me better sleep. Whenever I logged 10 km, I slept really well through the night and because I had a good night’s sleep, I was in a better mood and felt more productive during the day. 

Journey with diabetes

Managing to stay positive during lockdown

Joining the One Million Steps challenge made me rediscover my local area and corners I’d never explored before. Walking helped me not only physically but also mentally as it helped me to stay positive during lockdown. It kept me busy and connected with my community, because whilst I was walking I’d cross paths with friends and neighbours and say hello and talk about home-schooling and the challenges we were facing. 

At some point, I decided to combine walking with a bike ride. I’d go out in the morning for my walk and then out in the evening for a ride with my daughter. The best part of this was that one day as we were riding back home, everybody was out clapping for the NHS. My daughter and I used to say that we were on the finishing line of an Olympic race and we had our own fans cheering us home. We managed to time that just right and always came back to our street at 8 o’clock so that we could get our claps. And then when we got home we dropped our bikes and joined the clapping. It was so much fun and I can’t wait to do this challenge again this year. 

During lockdown I also learned two new hobbies: gardening and baking. I have an apple tree in the garden and thanks to YouTube and people’s tips I learned how to fertilise the tree better so that this year it gave me so many apples that I had to share them with neighbours and friends and baked lots of apple pies. Despite being a scientist, I’m not really good at baking and my kids always make fun of me. But during lockdown I found a recipe that was extremely easy and I was able to bake a vanilla cake. It’s been such a success that now I don’t have to look at the recipe anymore and my kids celebrated me on social media. 

Diabetes UK and me

Putting my diabetes into remission

I’ll always be connected to Diabetes UK now. I’d say the cherry on top is that my first review was last August and I was 2.5 stones lighter and I had sent my diabetes into remission. The nurse and GP were very pleased and asked me how I did it and I told them about the challenge. I went again last December for another check and everything was fine. So, they only need to see me once a year now. I’m so pleased that in a period of three months I was able to get myself back on track, put my diabetes into remission and maintain it.

To the people who have been recently diagnosed I’d say: “It’s not the end of the world when you’re diagnosed, you can do something about it and it’s as simple as just put one foot in front of the other and enjoy yourself in the process.”

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