Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Emotions

Diabetes doesn’t just affect you physically, it can affect you emotionally too. With so much to think about, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed. But our stories show whatever you're feeling you're not alone — and what may help. 

Steve smiling in his One Million Steps T-shirt

Steve HodgsonDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2016

Coming to terms with my feelings

It wasn’t until I had a medical review at work that something shifted. I came clean about how difficult I was finding it to look after my health, and how I felt that until I got my head in the right place, my habits were never going to change. Work were great and I got referred to a counsellor.

That was a huge step for me, I remember sitting in my car, willing myself to make an appointment. The whole thing was way outside my comfort zone. But it was one of the best things I ever did.

In 6 sessions I learnt to get over the denial and really tackle the whole thing. I realised the importance of mental health in sorting out your physical health. And I also saw that I was being too hard on myself. I was aiming to be ‘perfect’ when really, I just needed my choices to be ‘better’.

Read Steve Hodgson's complete story
A young child in a high-chair eating food

MosheMoshe was 11 months old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Adjusting to the new reality

I don’t think anyone can ever prepare themselves for a type 1 diagnosis. I wasn’t immediately emotionally overwhelmed. But knowing you’ve now got a child with a lifelong condition is really horrid. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that this was something that’s forever.

At the beginning, we were trying to take it day by day. We had to readjust what we’d previously defined as ‘ok’ expectations of life. Type 1 diabetes was now our reality and we had to do everything we could to keep our child healthy and well. But some days could be quite dark.

As time went on, I struggled with the lack of sleep. There was absolutely no break. The management of the condition is relentless.

When you have a tiny child with type 1 and you’re dealing with the nuances of the amounts of food and insulin they need, there’s just never a break.

As a parent, you’re having to manage the condition, day in and day out, night in and night out, while also trying to hold everything else together in a family and bring in an income and look after yourself, too.

Read Moshe's complete story
Deborah wearing a beekeeper suit

Deborah Goodman

Why I wasn't shocked

When I found out I was potentially at risk, I wasn’t shocked. Both of my parents have type 2 and, as they are first cousins, I guessed I would be at risk at some time in my life.

My mother, when she was told she had type 2, said, “Oh, is that all” and then had her hands slapped (verbally of course) by the doctor who made her aware of just how dangerous it can be. This was 10 years ago and I’ve seen her deteriorate in various ways since then. 

My great grandmother, because of diabetes, had to have both legs amputated (that should have rung alarm bells for my mother really). So, I have been aware of the consequences of diabetes for a while and I suppose that’s what led me to use the Know Your Risk tool in the first place.

I honestly think that everyone is aware of the “right” things to do, but we need that push sometimes to make things happen. I knew it was time to do something about my situation but it wasn’t until I came across the Know Your Risk tool that I actually decided to take action. The Know Your Risk tool gave me that push I needed and I’m so glad I did it because it’s proving to be a very healthy choice for me.

Read Deborah Goodman's complete story
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Cara DillonDiagnosed in 2007

Self-isolation with diabetes

When coronavirus started to dominate the news, it all became terribly real and I was struck by sheer panic. Suddenly, there was another dimension to the virus. Reports about pre-existing medical conditions making people at risk of poor outcomes really hit home. 

I was different from the rest of the family because I have type 1 diabetes and asthma. I felt that I was the weakest link. It was terrifying. 

Sam and I talked a lot about what to do and we wrote to our childrens’ schools, explaining our concerns and asking if we could keep our kids at home. They were incredibly understanding and said we should do whatever we felt was the most sensible option. So, we took them out of school on March 11 and went into self-isolation. 

I’d been due to fly to Ireland and sing at my nephew's wedding, but I cancelled. I was heartbroken. It was a horribly anxious time.

I was very aware of how many people were suffering across the country, and I had never felt so far from my family in Northern Ireland as I did then. Knowing that my diabetes and asthma increased my risk of severe illness was all very surreal - when I looked in the mirror I saw a perfectly healthy person. To keep me safe, I stayed at home while Sam did all the shopping and anything else that needed to be done outside of our home. 

Work and coronavirus

When the UK finally went into full lockdown, I felt a huge sense of relief that something was being done to try to curb the spread of the virus. I had to cancel all my live shows. Life was very quiet, so we worked on the garden and threw ourselves into homeschooling, having lockdown themed nights and enjoying each other's company. It was the longest I'd ever gone without performing live in over 25 years, but singing and making music had never been further from my mind. 

When it became clear that coronavirus wasn't going away any time soon, we realised there was no way we’d be able to perform live for the foreseeable. Making the decision to cancel our Christmas tour was a real blow. To top it all, we didn't qualify for any financial help from the UK Government. It's hard even now to talk about it, but we've been left totally on our own, as have many others in the same situation.

Read Cara Dillon's complete story
Shannon with her daughter on her shoulders, laughing in the countryside

ShannonDiagnosed with type 1 while 28 weeks pregnant with daughter Bronwen

Managing with a baby

When my daughter Bronwen was about eight months old, I saw a clinical psychologist. I was advised to do that because of the trauma that could be caused by everything I had experienced. Quite often people with severe morning sickness can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s the same with a chronic condition like type 1 diabetes.

I’m grateful that help was available, but I found it so hard getting to the hospital appointment with a small baby while trying to manage my sugars. Having to be anywhere for a certain time was just awful. It didn’t really help me at that time.

I had diabetes nurses on call, which I still have now. Luckily I did manage my diabetes quite well. There is support out there if you want it or need it. For me, it was a case of just getting on with it.

At my health trust, if you have a chronic condition, you can self-refer for emotional or mental health help. You just call them up and you’ll get an appointment. I feel like I’m too busy at the moment, but it’s great to know it’s there if I want to take it. Before, you had to wait to see your consultant for a referral. When that’s the case, I think it can be a barrier to seeking help, because it’s often very much a case of how you feel on the day you see your consultant. If you think you’re not too bad, you won’t ask for help. 

I think self-referral is really good, but I think there’s a gap for mental wellbeing, because not everyone who has concerns that would affect them mentally would need a clinical psychologist. You might just need a counsellor or a peer to talk to. 

Read Shannon's complete story
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