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Mike's story: making moving more a priority in my life

Mike smiling into the camera on holiday

Mike

Diagnosed with type 1 in 1976

I’m doing things now that I wouldn't have been able to do 10 weeks ago.

After spending the years following his diagnosis focusing on his work rather than his health, Mike went on to develop serious complications with his eyes and feet. But rather than let that stop him, he signed up to our Get Moving course to push himself and find new ways to introduce movement into his lifestyle. 

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 1976; I was in Her Majesty’s Forces and I became ill while I was on secondment to Cyprus. At that point, that was it, the end of my military career. Although I had signed up for nine years, 18 months later it was over. 

I was sent back home and I just got on with life really from there. I wasn’t really thinking about the consequences of not keeping on top of my diabetes or looking far ahead, I just got on with things. If I had known what life would be like now, I wouldn’t have acted in the same way. But back then, diabetes wasn’t talked about a lot. There weren’t the same levels of awareness or education. 

Complications

Complications

I spent about 35 to nearly 40 years in the IT industry, driving up and down the country, and that’s when things started to get worse and worse. I was pursuing my career, rather than looking after my health.

This led to problems with my feet, and what started out as a small blister turned into an infection and then Charcot foot. I’ve also had problems with my eyes too, and have been through 11 lots of laser to try and treat my retinopathy over eight to ten years.

I’ve got a fantastic podiatry team now, in a hospital about two miles down the road which is brilliant for me. I don’t do too much walking now because I can’t put much pressure on my feet.

As well as Charcot foot, I’ve got advanced neuropathy in both feet, so I can’t feel a thing in either of them. And that means I need to be careful about how far I walk - I only really go from my home to the car now.

When I want to go further, I use an electric wheelchair; that helps to reduce the pressure of my feet. My podiatrist said recently that my feet have never looked better! 

Life with diabetes

Life with diabetes

Looking back, I used to spend most of my time just sitting around. The council was running a health scheme that was designed to help you get moving, so I enrolled and went over to my local gym. But when they started going through the different machinery and exercises, there wasn’t much that I could actually do because of my wheelchair and problems with my feet. 

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I’m the chair of the local diabetes support group in Scunthorpe, so when I saw the Get Moving course advertised I thought I should give it a go. It said that the movements would be low-impact, and that I could do them from my chair, so it seemed achievable and like a good next step for me. 

Activity

Activity

5 weeks into the Get Moving courses

I’ve never been a fitness fanatic, but the courses really fired my imagination - especially the session about boxercise. I sat through it and thought ‘hang on, I can do that!’ and from that point I took getting active more seriously. I’ve started doing boxercise during the week for around half an hour every 2 or 3 days, and I’ve realised that this is my opportunity now to try and get fitter, to bring physical activity back into my life. Perhaps it might even help me to lose a little bit of weight, you never know! Plus it helps me mentally, feeling like I’ve got something to aim for and improve on. 

When you get to the end of a session, or your own workout, it makes you feel a lot better and like you’ve achieved something in your day. And if you plan it into the mornings or the evenings, you can find the time to get it done. We’re five sessions into the course now and I feel reinvigorated to do more each time; I’ve realised there’s nothing stopping me - I can do it.  

Interested in signing up to future Get Moving courses? Email helpline@diabetes.org.uk or call 0345 123 2399 to find out more.

At the end of the course

Looking back on the rest of the sessions, they were all really positive. I felt like I was able to put what I’ve been learning into practice as we got towards the end of the course.

Although the earlier boxercise session was hard to beat for me, hearing from the Wasps Rugby guests and doing exercises with them was really good. They had us using tea towels and all sorts to get moving. It showed us that you don’t need fancy equipment, just your imagination!  

Getting the chance to learn or take part in a different activity every week has also been so useful, because I’ve had the chance to try something new each time. And being part of a group, realising you’re not the only one who was struggling, it really helps. You’re all working together to achieve a goal, to get moving.

I’m doing things that I wouldn't have been able to do 10 weeks ago. In fact, since starting the course, and making more of an effort to get active, my wife has noticed that if I skip what I’ve planned to do, or can’t do it for some reason, my mood is different. So I think that shows what an impact it’s had, because it’s an important part of my life and routine now. 

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