Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Type 1 diabetes and recovered from coronavirus symptoms: Khadija’s story

Khadija

Diagnosed with type 1 when she was a baby

I’m taking each day as it comes but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel!

Khadija Stewart-Brown shares her experience of developing Covid-19 symptoms and her plans for keeping busy during isolation. 

Diagnosis

Managing diabetes

I was born five weeks early, hence my name Khadija, which means early baby girl! My pancreas was overproducing insulin, which meant I was having a lot of hypos, and so the doctors made the decision to remove my pancreas when I was four months old.

I was monitored by a diabetes team and had to check my blood glucose levels daily, before starting on insulin injections when I was nine. I’ve found managing my diabetes challenging at times but in 2017 I went onto the Freestyle Libre (flash glucose monitor), which made a huge difference to my life. 

Treatments

Coronavirus

About three weeks ago I came home from work with what I would describe as flu-like symptoms. Within the first two days I had a really high temperature and then developed shortness of breath and a cough. Initially I wasn’t going to call 111 as I thought I would just get over it, but after seeing the NHS guidelines I thought it was sensible to get myself checked. 

After calling 111, paramedics were sent to my house and did my general observations. They didn’t think I needed to be admitted to hospital but told me to ring 111 again and arrange to be tested for Covid-19. However, when I tried to do this the following day I was told that because I hadn’t been in contact with anyone who had visited an at-risk area, I should just self-isolate and see how I got on. When my symptoms weren’t improving, I contacted 111 again but was advised to isolate for a further seven days, as they were still unable to test me. It did feel like I was being left to look after myself a bit.

Thankfully this past week I’ve been feeling much better and I’m not as short of breath. My symptoms have definitely been in line with those of Covid-19 but I suppose I’ll never know for definite if I’ve had the virus!

Life with diabetes

Self-isolating

Initially my mum didn’t develop symptoms but still needed to isolate with me, especially given that she’s a nurse. Luckily she was able to return to work, which was great, as I know it’s a difficult time at the moment with many NHS staff self-isolating and hospitals being so busy.  

She developed a routine where she would get in from work and change at the door, then have a bath. She was just being extra cautious to protect me. She was also having to do all the shopping, as I’m not going out.

However, mum's now developed symptoms herself and is isolating in her room, so there’s been a bit of a role reversal with me cooking meals and checking up on her – from a safe distance.

Activity

Keeping active

Now that I’m feeling better I’ve got lots to keep me busy, so I’m managing quite well with the lockdown. I’m set up to work from home and thanks to Microsoft Teams and Zoom, I’ve been able to chat and video call people from my floor at work. 

I’ve also got my Master’s dissertation to finish, which I was due to submit the week I became unwell. The university have given me an extension, so I’m just working on the final edits. I was supposed to be handing it in and then going off on holiday to celebrate, but that isn’t happening now.

My graduation this summer has been postponed too, so I’m not sure when that will take place. But I know I will make sure I properly celebrate once this is all over.  

Aside from work, I’ve made plans to try and learn a new language and a musical instrument while I’m isolating. 

And probably like everyone else, I’ve got a Netflix list which is growing by the day, but I’m limiting myself to how much I watch – maybe an episode on my lunch break. 

Diabetes UK and me

Support from Diabetes UK

In the past I’ve used the Diabetes UK forum and social media pages to find out the things I wouldn’t get to know when in clinic, or perhaps I’m too embarrassed to ask my doctor. At the moment I’m finding the Diabetes UK Facebook page a helpful place to get updates on what’s happening with corona virus. 

I’m taking each day as it comes but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel!

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