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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Diagnosis

Knowing where to start with your diagnosis of diabetes can be a challenge. But it’s not a challenge you have to face alone. Here we share stories from people who recall how they came to terms with their diagnosis and adjusted to life with diabetes.

Natalie stands on a beach, with diabetes tech on her arm and leg

Natalie BalmainDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007, age 20

Thinking back to my diagnosis

The story of my diagnosis is actually quite similar to Summer’s on Coronation Street! I started to lose weight, and my family suspected I might have an eating disorder. I was at uni at the time, and although I was hungry all the time and eating lots of sugary foods, the weight was falling off me. I didn’t think much of it, in fact I quite liked it as I was receiving so many compliments on how I looked. But it got to the point where people started to worry about me –  I’d lost 3½ stone, and when I came back from uni for the holidays, my parents were shocked at how thin I was.

My parents encouraged me to go to the GP. I told the doctor I was fine, just a bit thirsty. They did a finger prick test and immediately knew what was wrong. I ended up in hospital with a drip in my arm and a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms

Before my diagnosis, I didn’t think much of my symptoms, they just crept up on me. But looking back, I was constantly drinking water, I was going to the toilet several times a night, and my vision started getting blurry. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed and started to feel better that I realised quite how ill I had been.

Read Natalie Balmain's complete story
Mike smiling into the camera on holiday

MikeDiagnosed with type 1 in 1976

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. 

Read Mike's complete story
Edward smiling into the camera

EdwardDiagnosed with type 2 in 2019

Learning about diabetes

I think I was first told about my risk of developing diabetes about 10 years ago, and in the past two years things got more serious when I was diagnosed with type 2.

I had been bouncing around between the prediabetes and type 2 mark for a while, so my community health service thought I would benefit from going on the X-Pert diabetes course. It was really good and informative, and prompted me to get involved with the local diabetes support group in my area too.

There were about nine of us in the group, and it was supported by our local diabetes nurses and Diabetes UK. We used to meet around once a month, and were in the process of looking at running it ourselves as the funding was ending, but then the pandemic hit and everything sort of stopped.

Read Edward's complete story
Liz crouches on the floor holding some heavy looking weights

Liz CromwellDiagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2009

Getting diagnosed

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2009, when I was around three months pregnant with my ninth baby.

I’d previously been told my blood sugars were in the ‘pre-diabetic’ range. My mum and one of my brothers has type 2 diabetes, but they live in Jamaica and I had no understanding of what it meant when I was diagnosed. It was a shock. I was told that in some cases, it goes away after you have the child. But in some cases, if it’s not treated properly, it remains.

I was put straight on insulin. Everything was new to me. I followed the instructions that were given to me about changing my diet, but I was having hypos and would stuff myself with sweet foods to get my blood sugar back up. I didn’t really understand that I could adjust my medication. It felt like I was feeling about in the dark.

I had just passed my due date and I went for a scan ahead of a planned induction and was told my baby’s heartbeat had stopped. It sent me into a frenzy. Afterwards, I felt that my daughter had come into my life and she had left me with diabetes. I think I went into a form of postnatal depression that I didn’t get or seek help for. I just didn’t care about myself or my health.

Get support for pregnancy and baby loss.

Read Liz Cromwell's complete story
Bupe laughing

BupeDiagnosed with type 2 during the Covid-19 pandemic

Early symptoms of type 2 diabetes

For several months since Christmas 2019 I wasn’t feeling like myself. I was fatigued too often and had migraines. At first, I thought that it was because I was simply tired by working and completing my part-time MSc at the same time. And being a mum, I had to balance family responsibility as well. So, for a little while I didn’t do much about it. But at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, the frequency of the migraines and the fact that I was feeling fatigued by midday started to concern me. I decided to speak to the nurse who did some blood tests. 

Read Bupe's complete story
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