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Paul's story: The impact of diabetes complications

Paul sits in a light blue jacket on a sofa looking to his left


I've spent 41 days in hospital, in total. That really has a huge impact on you and the whole family.

Paul was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he was 27 years old. After living with diabetes for over twenty years, he's experienced several diabetes complications. He now tells his story to encourage those who are struggling to seek help.


Newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 27. It was actually me who mentioned the possibility of diabetes to the GP as I was quite thirsty and peeing a lot. I was sent to a local hospital, and they gave me so much good advice. 

But diabetes complications started to catch up with me when I had a blocked artery in my heart in 2019. And then last year I was in hospital seven times because of complications with my feet


Experiencing complications

I was on holiday and I was getting back into walking when I started to feel something funny in my boot. There was a blood blister underneath my toe on the right foot and it had burst. I went to A&E that Saturday and was told to see the diabetes team on Monday. But by the next morning I was feeling all hot and really unwell, so I went back and was started on antibiotics and sent home again. 

But the pain was getting worse and worse, my fourth toe had gone purple - the infection had obviously gone into the bone, and it actually got into the base of my middle toe as well. I was admitted to hospital and told they'd have to amputate. 

They also picked up a problem with the artery in my ankle. When I was in bed that night, I was thinking I'm going to have a foot off here. It's not going to be the toe. It was scary. You do go, wow, this blood blister has suddenly turned into a bit of a nightmare. 

Since then, I've spent 41 days in hospital, in total, that really has a huge impact on you and the whole family.


Impact on life

Then you lose your money as well - I'm a self-employed bookkeeper. I've been employed before in various accountancy firms but with my illness, with my surgery, I've had to give up work at the moment which is really tough. 

And then there's the day-to-day stresses. For the past 40 years I have been a very loyal supporter of Plymouth Argyle Football Club, going to all the home matches and quite a few of the away matches.

But since the surgery I haven't been able to go and I'm missing it big style, and with that lack of of social contact and immobility because I feel homebound, it really has affected my mental health.

It's the simplest little things that can be taken away from you or the simple things that you can miss when you're housebound. I really miss just walking down past the river and listening to birdsong, or walking down to town and going to have a coffee somewhere. The impact of diabetes, it touches so much of that.

Journey with diabetes

Looking forward

It's so important to go regularly and have your HbA1c checked, and foot checks and stuff like that, because it gives you a view of how things are going. I think it's important you get the checks you need from the NHS even though it's stretched. We've got to make sure that those people in power give the NHS the money that it needs and that the money gets put into proper services that are helping people look after their diabetes better. 

We need to make sure we've got the people there with the knowledge and the skills and the resources so that everybody has the support they need.

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