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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.

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JonDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 5

Finding out I had diabetes

I was diagnosed at five. We had a family GP who was always coming up and visiting my nan, who lived with us. Anything that was possibly wrong, she had it. So he'd be round often enough. My mum mentioned to him I’d been going to the toilet a lot and drinking a lot. I remember having to have a pee on a stick and then being told I needed to go to the hospital. 

I think they thought it might be measles originally, so I was in my own little room, which was great, until I realised I wasn't allowed out to play with anyone else.

The morning after being diagnosed the nurse came in and told me I had to do an injection. It was the mid-1980s. She had a sort of sterile syringe and was telling me I’d have to do it. I went and locked myself in the toilet and refused to come out. From memory I was screaming the place down and saying I’m not coming out. Obviously, I eventually did. 

"I think I just got used to having diabetes. In a way it was good being diagnosed then because it’s all I’ve ever known." 

It just became part of life. At school I used it to my advantage at times; I needed a snack before breaktime in primary school so I'd be there next to the teacher's desk having my little treat, which was great when no one else in the class was allowed to have one. 

There wasn’t as much awareness of what diabetes was and I think other children just accepted it. I remember there was a phase where I’d quite often be going to the toilet in assemblies – I’m not sure if that was deliberate or not. It may have been because my blood sugar was higher in the mornings. A couple of people made comments about it that upset me. That was the first time I’d ever had anything negative.

Read Jon's complete story
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Kaajal Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 5.

How I found out I had diabetes

I was diagnosed at five. I was in and out of hospital quite often.

I only found out recently that, at the time, my mother thought her child was going to die. This was in the eighties and I was living out in Africa at the time, that's where I grew up. We had no internet, no information. She really thought “Is my child going to die?” And my father cried actually.

I was too young to really understand what was going on. I don't remember my parents feeling anything, they just got on with things. My father helped financially to get insulin and whatever I needed. My mother was there by my side, day in day out.

Read Kaajal 's complete story
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Diagnosed with type 2 after having gestational diabetes

Finding out I had diabetes

I've always been very busy. I'm not very good at sitting and doing nothing. Life was good before I was diagnosed, I could just do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. I spent a lot of time out on the farm and working.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I got gestational diabetes, which I managed with diet. I also had gestational diabetes with my second child and they induced me early, because they thought she was going to be big. When I had my third child, I ended up on insulin because of the gestational diabetes. After I had him, everything settled back down for a couple of years until I started to feel a bit unwell and couldn't really work out what was wrong. I started checking my blood sugars in the morning and found that they were in the 20s. That was when I went to the doctor. 

The doctor did an HbA1c test, which came back at 108. The ideal level should be 42, so they were quite concerned that it was very out of control. The doctor started me on metformin. About four days later, I started to lose my eyesight. They started me on insulin straight away but I lost my eyesight for about five weeks. When my blood sugar levels started to stabilise a bit, they realised that I needed to be on more medication to keep things under control. That was when I got my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes

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LibbyDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 3.

How we found out that our daughter had diabetes

Jayne

Everyone in the family had had a bit of a cold so I assumed that’s what was wrong with Libby. When she’s unwell she always pushes through it and will still be up at 6 am playing with her Barbies. But this time she wasn’t really picking up.

I’m not one to go straight to the doctors but I mentioned to my mum that she’d been really thirsty and she said it could be a sign of diabetes, which I shrugged off as I didn’t have a clue what that was. But I googled the symptoms and thought I ought to get her checked.

Hospital

The morning I took her to the doctors, I thought she looked really thin. She had also been really lethargic. I took a urine sample to the doctor who did a test there and then. She said Libby had a lot of sugar in her wee and sent us straight off to A&E. And that's where we got the diagnosis.

Libby was injected with insulin there and then and we were moved onto a ward, where we ended up staying for four nights.

I was heartbroken. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. The next day we saw the dietician and then the nurses came in and showed us what we needed to do with the needles. I remember crying my eyes out and saying, “I can’t do this.” The nurse told me to go home and get some rest and then come back.

“We didn't know what diabetes was. So it was doing research – finding out everything about it. Everything about our daily lives got flipped upside down.”  – Mike

Read Libby's complete story
Ruth smiling as she stands outside her local swimming pool

RuthDiagnosed with type 2 in 2019

Finding support after my diagnosis

I was diagnosed just over two years ago with type 2 diabetes. It was actually two days before my birthday, so it was a bit of a headspin. I’ve been taking medication since then, and recently I’ve started having weekly injections too. 

I am very obese, and lockdown has definitely made that worse. I didn’t really do much because of my weight and my diabetes, and I was really nervous to go outside at all last year. Even though they said you could go out once a day for exercise, I wasn’t doing that because I was scared. And because I live on my own and work from home, it meant I didn’t really see that many people.

I dip in every now and then into the Diabetes UK Support Forum; I’ve always found it a really useful place to go if I’ve got a question or just to see what other people are chatting about more generally.

I just happened to log on one day earlier this year when Francesca, one of the Physical Activity Helpline Advisors, had posted about the service she offers. When I hear the word exercise, I often think of things like Joe Wicks’ workouts - and that’s just not me. But when I saw Francesca’s posts about introducing more movement and activity - rather than exercise - into your life, I thought ‘let’s give it a go!’.    

Read Ruth's complete story
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