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“The last mile was emotional and my daughters and husband swam the last few lengths with me.”

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Catherine took part in Swim22 because she wanted a challenge to focus on after her mum passed away from diabetes-related complications in 2018.

“The Swim22 challenge helped me through my grief. I swam 22 miles in memory of my mum."

In 1967 when my mum was 17 years old she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She had been very unwell with glandular fever and the theory is that the virus attacked her pancreas and caused the diabetes.

Diabetes never stopped my mum from doing what she wanted. She was a very proud, and determined woman. Diabetes was a part of her life but didn't take over her life.

She married my dad in 1972 and 3 years later I was born, and then later my sister in 1978. My mum was on strict bed rest for the last trimester of her pregnancies in hospital both times, and was labelled the 'diabetic mother' by the consultants to the students learning at the hospital.

Diabetes misconceptions

Later on in her life she joined a GP referral exercise class. Unfortunately the instructor that was running the class was not educated in diabetes and the different types. The instructor told her that she could 'cure her diabetes', and that she had 'made a lot of people diabetes free'.

No matter how many times my mum tried to explain that she would never be cured as she was Type 1 and not Type 2, the instructor said she could cure her. She walked out disheartened, upset and disappointed.

It saddens me that there are still people out there that do not know what diabetes is, especially Type 1. A number of people have the misconception that diabetes is about obese people, that don't exercise, and eat too much sugar. This image of diabetics needs to be changed.

Apart from hypoglycemia and making my mum a cup of tea with sugar in it, to bring blood sugar levels back up, she was fine. Later on in life though she began to get complications from the diabetes.

In August 2018, my mum had a hypoglycemic episode that ended up in her being in intensive care, and in an induced coma. She'd been in hospital before from hypoglycemia but this was different. After the induced coma meds were stopped she never woke up from the coma, and died in November 2018, leaving behind a family that miss her lots.

I decided to do the challenge as something to focus on, and help my grief. I was a runner before doing this, not a swimmer.

"That first mile I swam at my local Leisure Centre was such hard work but it got easier.

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"There were days I didn't want to get in the pool, but knowing I was doing it in memory of Mum and the support from family, and the Facebook group was amazing."

The last mile was emotional and my daughters and husband swam the last few lengths with me.

I've carried on swimming, and would say that I am now a swimmer. I raised £175 for Diabetes UK. I'm definitely going to do it again next year, as it's such a good cause, well organised, and I received lots of support.

If you'd like to join Catherine, go to our Swim22 registration page.

 

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