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Finding out you're at risk of type 2 diabetes can change your life: Deborah’s story

Deborah wearing a beekeeper suit

Deborah Goodman

I would definitely recommend the Know Your Risk tool and I have already done this to some friends. I think prevention is always better than cure and having seen first-hand the issues my parents have I am a positive advocate.

Having history of type 2 in her family, Deborah wasn’t shocked to find out she was potentially at risk. But knowing how dangerous diabetes can be she decided to join the Diabetes Prevention Programme and make changes to her life.

Diagnosis

Knowing I was potentially at risk

I saw a Facebook post from the NHS that linked to the Know Your Risk Tool and because I had a family history of diabetes I knew I was potentially at risk. So, I thought I’d better complete the survey and find out. Since my score was quite high I was asked if I was interested in being contacted by my local representative. I accepted and this is how I was then referred to the Diabetes Prevention Programme.

I joined the Diabetes Prevention Programme last September. After a few initial phone calls with my local representative, I started the virtual programme, due to end In March, with Jon Lokier, the contact for the programme.

Emotions

Why I wasn't shocked

When I found out I was potentially at risk, I wasn’t shocked. Both of my parents have type 2 and, as they are first cousins, I guessed I would be at risk at some time in my life.

My mother, when she was told she had type 2, said, “Oh, is that all” and then had her hands slapped (verbally of course) by the doctor who made her aware of just how dangerous it can be. This was 10 years ago and I’ve seen her deteriorate in various ways since then. 

My great grandmother, because of diabetes, had to have both legs amputated (that should have rung alarm bells for my mother really). So, I have been aware of the consequences of diabetes for a while and I suppose that’s what led me to use the Know Your Risk tool in the first place.

I honestly think that everyone is aware of the “right” things to do, but we need that push sometimes to make things happen. I knew it was time to do something about my situation but it wasn’t until I came across the Know Your Risk tool that I actually decided to take action. The Know Your Risk tool gave me that push I needed and I’m so glad I did it because it’s proving to be a very healthy choice for me.

Food and healthy eating

Changes to my lifestyle

I’m really happy about my journey so far as I think I have come a long way. I have cut down on the snacking and swapped my breakfast so instead of having my regular sugary cereal bar I now have rolled porridge oats. I am now drinking more water (2 litres a day on average) and my alcohol intake has halved. I’m also doing more exercise.

For me it’s always been about making small changes as they’ll eventually add up. I knew this programme was going to benefit me in the long run and making small changes makes me feel confident that I can continue to keep up with these lifestyle changes in the future as they are sustainable. What I’m aiming for is a healthy lifestyle.

Journey with diabetes

Attending the Diabetes Prevention Programme

The group sessions I’m attending as part of the Diabetes Prevention Programme are fabulous because you don’t feel alone. Having a group situation where we are all experiencing the same things does help.

The only downside to this is that I miss not interacting with people in real life, of course this isn’t possible at the moment because of COVID. But I wish we could go for walks after these group sessions to connect a bit more with the other participants as I know this is what usually happened in the past.

Apart from this the programme has had a great impact on me and my life so far and brought about real positive changes.

One of my hobbies is swimming. I never thought that I’d enjoy swimming as much as I do now. I’m even planning to taking out a membership at my local swimming pool. I’ve done marathons in the past, the New York and London ones but I have arthritis now so I can’t run as it’s too painful. So, swimming is my new-found love which is very beneficial for my diabetes too. This is also down to Jon because he always encourages us to get active.  

I also enjoy gardening and beekeeping (I have 15 hives over three apiary sites), that all keeps me busy in the summer.

Diabetes UK and me

Why using the Know Your Risk tool is so important

I wasn’t aware of Diabetes UK before using the Know Your Risk tool. I think sharing my story is important as it might encourage someone in my position to take on this challenge by doing the survey and making positive changes.

You could look healthy on the outside but still be having issues on the inside. If you take me, I do look very healthy on the outside, and don’t have any of the issues often associated with diabetes such as high blood pressure or being overweight. But how we look isn’t actually an indication of anything and there might be no immediate signs of diabetes so it can be hard to find out.

Recently, I was reading a WHO survey of who is at most risk from Coronavirus and I was shocked to learn that diabetes is one of the largest underlying contributing factors to dying from it. This really hit home. Knowing if you are at risk of anything that deadly has to be a good thing for you to do something about it. And this is why using the Know Your Risk tool is so important.

If you think you might be at risk of developing type 2, try our Know Your Risk tool to find out.  

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