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Getting the coronavirus vaccine: Sarita’s story

Sarita

Sarita Gandhi was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1994

Getting the phone call from the GP to say it was my turn for the vaccine was a relief for me and my family. Now I’ve had it, I feel safer and less worried in general. I felt good and lucky to have been given some protection.

Sarita, 82, has been using video chat to keep in touch with her children and three grandchildren during the pandemic. She recently received the first dose of her coronavirus vaccine. Used to injections from managing her diabetes, she found the process quick and easy. She’s looking forward to her second dose.

Diagnosis

Getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when I was 56. I was working at the time, as a machine operator for an electrical manufacturing company. I remember feeling really tired and sleepy, but I didn’t think anything of it as I was trying to juggle work and caring for my three children. My husband’s mother had dementia and was also starting to get more ill, so I put how I was feeling down to a combination of stress and family life.

It was only when my husband suggested I go to the doctor that I started to think there might be another reason. Then my test results came back and my type 2 diabetes was confirmed. I was told to take metformin and given some leaflets with more information, but that was it in terms of support.

When I got diagnosed, it made me think about my mum and her health. She always used to feel tired, and she had a boil on her leg that never seemed to heal. Only when I learnt more about the symptoms of diabetes did I start to think that she might have had it too. She went into a coma and died when she was 65, so we never found out. But it made me realise how important it was going to be to manage my condition.  

Making lifestyle changes

Indian cooking uses a lot of oil and clarified butter, so I knew I would have to make some changes there. I learnt how to cook dishes in a different way, to make them healthier for me and my family. And I cut out sweet treats, things like sugar in my tea.

For a while, these changes – alongside the tablets – seemed to be working. It was about six years after my diagnosis when my doctor noticed that I wasn’t responding to the metformin as well anymore. That’s when they suggested I try insulin.

Treatments

Switching to insulin

At first, I was worried about having to inject myself. But, like everything, you get used to it after a while. The nurse came to my house and showed me how to do it. She was really supportive and said she could come back if I needed more help, but I wanted to get used to it on my own. Now I inject 28 units of insulin every morning and evening, as well as 11 units during the afternoon. I don’t mind because I know it’s helping me.

Complications

Dealing with neuropathy and retinopathy

Over the years, I’ve found that I’ve started to lose some feeling in both my feet. My doctor said that some of the blood vessels are damaged because of neuropathy, so I make sure to keep checking them.

Around 10 years ago I was also told that I had developed retinopathy in both of my eyes. I started going to appointments every year so they could monitor my eyesight, but this changed to every six months when they noticed some more changes to my vision.

My last appointment was in October and I’m glad it still went ahead. I wasn’t sure if the coronavirus pandemic was going to affect it, but luckily it didn’t.

Life with diabetes

Living in lockdown

When everything locked down last March, it didn’t affect me too much. I’m 82 so I don’t leave the house that often nowadays; I have the radio, my TV and the housework to keep me busy.

It did mean I couldn’t see my two daughters and three grandkids, but we were able to speak on the phone and through video chat which has been nice.

My son, who lives with me, is an optician and so he has been going into work throughout the pandemic. He’s been really careful about that, making sure to wash his hands, shower and change out of his clothes before coming into our living room or shared spaces.

Getting the coronavirus vaccine

Getting the phone call from the GP to say it was my turn for the vaccine was a relief for me and my family. Now I’ve had it, I feel safer and less worried in general. The injection itself was quick and easy, especially for me because I’m used to injections. Apart from a bit of a sore arm for a few hours later, I felt good and lucky to have been given some protection. I’m looking forward to getting my second dose in the future.

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