I was unaware that I had diabetes for a long while; I knew there was something going on but I just thought I was tired or that work was taking its toll. And because my symptoms developed in such a slow and gradual way, I didn’t really think twice about it being something more serious.
I’ve always been quite a large guy, at one point I was around 19 and a half stone, and so I decided then that it was time to lose some weight. I went on a little bit of a diet and started to lose some of it, so I thought ‘ok, this is working’.
But within six months, my weight had dropped to 11 stone 5 pounds. It’s hard to explain, because at the time I didn’t really notice what was happening. Looking back, I know I should have - but when you’re living in the moment, it’s really difficult.
It was only when I woke up one morning and couldn’t see properly that I decided to go to the doctors. They tested my blood glucose (sugar) levels and sent me straight to A&E. That’s when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, at the age of 50.
Coming to terms with my diagnosis
It was a very surreal and frightening experience, and although my diabetes nurse was a great source of support - coming out of hospital and having to accept that your life has changed was difficult. I remember getting home, looking in the food cupboards and thinking, ‘what do I eat?’.
In the first few months following my diagnosis, I went through so many different stages. I experienced depression about not being able to eat this and eat that, and I felt insecure and embarrassed about having diabetes. Then I went through denial where I refused to take my insulin because I thought I didn’t need it, or refused to eat so I didn’t need to take as much insulin.
The hospital gave me two leaflets when I was diagnosed, and at the bottom of one was the Diabetes UK website. I visited it online, and from there - that sort of changed my life. Everything I needed to know was there, from support to recipes and information about managing my condition.
Thanks to making changes to my lifestyle, and what and how I eat, I’ve been able to manage my weight and reduce my insulin dose by about 75%. I’ve worked really hard at it, and I’ve grabbed life by the horns. I still have my bad days like everyone else, but overall - I feel much more in control.