Rekha, 66, a Community Champion for Diabetes UK shares her experience during Volunteering Week
Type 2 diabetes
- Diagnosed June 2015 with Type 2 diabetes. HbA1c& level at 57.0 mmol/mol.
- Prescribed standard release Metformin tablets, but after feeling sick and having tummy aches, drugs changed to slow-release Metformin. While this helped her feel better and her diabetes control improved slightly, her GP later prescribed GlicLazide to lower her HbA1c readings.
- 18 months after diagnosis, her Type 2 diabetes is managed by a combination of slow-release Metformin and Gliclazide.
- August 15 she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and prescribed an ACE inhibitor to reduce the risk of stroke.
- At a routine retinopathy screening, background retinopathy was found where the capillaries in the retina become blocked.
- She continues to be reviewed at the diabetic eye screening clinic annually.
- June 2017 Hb1Ac results down to 45 mmol/mol.
In 2015 I was shocked and stunned to learn I had Type 2 diabetes. I couldn’t even tell my husband until we got home from the hospital. Earlier that year I had been cleared of cancer which left me overjoyed and relieved, so being diagnosed with diabetes was a bombshell.
My Mum had Type 2, and so did my sister, but I thought it would never happen to me. I have always been very careful with my diet. I have never been overweight and I only ever ate half a biscuit or two teaspoons of a dessert.
Everyone I knew had high cholesterol but I didn’t. Although, I believe that this condition is down to hereditary factors, I realised that I had to make changes to my lifestyle. I am still managing many different side effects from variety of medications along with other medical conditions. I have lost some weight and I do get tired. However, by pacing my everyday life into active periods and rest breaks, I feel much stronger inside and out.
Hospital tests showed I had clots in my eyes caused by my diabetes and high blood pressure. It was a frightening time. Medication cleared the clots but my blood pressure remained high. With the help of a healthier eating regime eventually my blood results went down to normal.
Friends and family
When I told my husband and children about my diagnosis, they replied: ‘What?' They couldn’t believe it.
My friends were so surprised they actually laughed. They know I am such a fusspot about what I eat. They know I cook my own food with fresh ingredients and I rarely eat sweets and puddings. I worked in health promotion and I do know a lot about diabetes.
Approximately 32 years ago I did a lot of work raising awareness after my sister and mother were diagnosed with diabetes. My sister died in her sixties from renal failure, one of the long-term complications of diabetes. My mother lived with Type 2 diabetes into her 90s. She is an inspiration to me.
My husband and my children are very supportive and very caring and they all like my home cooking even now I have changed some of the recipes to make them healthier.
Diet, nutrition and exercise
I went online and found Diabetes UK. I saw they were active in Bolton and I decided to sign up to their Community Champions programme. When I went to my training I heard about their Changing Lifestyle programme so I enrolled. The programme included cookery lessons and exercise classes. I loved the cooking.
Now, I use much less oil and salt. I also use millet flour instead of wheat. I use it to make parathas and use much less oil for binding and none for cooking. I also make “Rotla” using millet flour bound with water and served without any ghee. Take a look at my Shirkhand recipe - atraditional, decadent, sweetened Gujarati yoghurt dish
The cooking group is fantastic. We share all our fears, the group support makes you feel very safe. When we meet we often go for a walk if the weather is good. I also try and go to the gym during the week. My grandchildren are only five and two years old and they keep me very fit and alive when they come and stay.
Diabetes UK and me
Training as a Community Champion has given me a deeper understanding of diabetes. Information on the website helped me learn how to control my intake of carbohydrates and design better ways to manage my own health.
I've been actively promoting Diabetes UK at community venues and health centres. I've planned events with other Community Champions and also helped friends and family become more aware of diabetes.