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Doing the One Million Step Challenge for the fifth time - Linda's story

Linda wearing an every step counts t-shirt holding a certificate saying stepping superstar

Linda Potts-Neate

I’m a little concerned this year, everyone’s tight for money, so I'm thinking of other ways to help my fundraising.

Linda, 63, has done the One Million Step Challenge for the past four years. Here she talks about what motivates her to take part, living with type 1 diabetes and her fundraising tips.

Diagnosis

Family link

My auntie had type 1 diabetes. She died from diabetes complications at the age of 30. I remember when I was still quite young, I used to help her get her injections ready. She taught me all about it. It was when you used glass syringes and you had to tap it to get the air bubbles out. 

I was diagnosed when I was 29. I remember it was the day before my birthday. I was living with my (ex) husband at a military base in Germany.  I self-diagnosed myself. I was watching a programme about the guy who invented insulin

And I thought, that’s what I’ve got. I hadn’t taken a lot of notice, but I’d lost a lot of weight. It was a bit of a shock. 

I was sent to the military hospital where I stayed for a couple of days where they taught me how to inject. I remember they advised me not to get pregnant. But it turned out that I was already! but I did manage OK. My son got married this Sunday gone.  

I did go through a stage of thinking why me? But in the end I thought it was a good job it was me and not my sister as she wouldn’t have coped. 

Diabetes UK and me

Giving back

This is my fifth year of doing the One Million Step Challenge. I first saw it advertised on Facebook. And I thought ‘Ah, I’m a type 1 diabetes and I’ve used Diabetes UK services over the years – it’s time to give back.”  

It’s many years ago now, but I’d get advice over the phone from the helpline. And when I was first diagnosed 33 years ago, I was living with my husband on a military base and I got given Diabetes UK packs which I used as my information.

I like being involved and obviously anything that’s raised is good for diabetes research. If it prevents some youngsters who have just been diagnosed going through everything us older people have gone through over the years, it’s brilliant.

What I like about the research is how it’s helped some of the technology like the Freestyle Libre. A few years ago, I got quite lax about checking my blood sugar and I couldn’t be bothered to prick, my finger. So they prescribed me the Libre, and it’s made so much difference to my blood sugar control. So much easier to zap your arm with your phone rather than having to prick your fingers all the time.

Fundraising

Different approach

Last year, at my community centre I held a raffle and put a collection box there too. And I raised quite a lot from that as well as online fundraising.

But this year, I’m thinking of other ways to raise money. I like photography, so I might buy some cheap frames and do a photo sale.

On my Facebook page, I do a post every week or two and tag in everyone’s name starting with A the first week, and B the next, so I cover everyone individually, and I get quite a few donations that way. 

Activity

"I do a lot of walking at work."

I work in a garden centre and I enjoy walking. On my days off I often do a walk of three to 10 miles depending how I’m feeling. I can do up to 25,000 steps a day at work alone - although that's in big heavy safety boots! So this year I’m aiming for 1.7 million steps again. I can’t quite make it to two million. I need my rest days!

The slight difference this year is that I have slight arthritis, so I may need to take that into account. I find also that I’m getting a little bored with walks in my local area so I’m looking forward to more walks a bit further afield.

I get some odd fluctuations with my blood sugar in the morning. But walking helps me. When I go out for a walk they tend to stabilise. And I always carry dextrose and little energy drinks with me. 

"I feel a lot fitter since I’ve been doing the walking. It’s brought me back into fitness."

In my first few years of being diagnosed, I used to go to lots of aerobic classes and I decided to become a fitness instructor, although I remember them saying ‘you can’t do that you’re a diabetic!’. I remember thinking ‘watch me!’. 

Once I was qualified, I ran classes on the military base for the wives to go to. And when I came back to the UK, I did my own classes for a while.

I’d say to everyone that they should take part in the challenge, especially if there’s someone they like walking with or they like walking their dog. You don’t even need to do a million steps.

Support

I try to get together my own team of family and friend but we’re not in the same area, so we compare stories about our walks. Last year, I talked my son into it. This year so far it’s me and my goddaughter.

If there was just one thing I’d like to have known in the first year of the challenge was how friendly and helpful the Facebook challenge page was. I love it. I like it when Jackie does her photo of the day theme – and you have to take a picture of whatever she says. Some are so obscure that you can’t find them. Everyone is so welcoming and there’s so much support. 

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