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Journey with diabetes

Here we share stories from people reflecting on their journey with diabetes so far. Whether you have the condition, or know someone that has, these open accounts of coming to terms with diabetes may help you find new ways to cope.

Snita SharmaDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10 years ago

Diagnosis

I had gestational diabetes with my eldest son. Afterwards, I was told I could develop type 2 diabetes later in life, but at the time, I wasn’t made to feel that it was really important.

I ate all the time, I’d cook a healthy meal for the family, but then I’d tell my husband I wanted to go out for pizza or fried chicken. I think a lot of the time I ate because I was bored.

When I was 40, I visited a relative who had type 2 diabetes and told her that I was feeling unwell and tired all the time. She urged me to go to the doctor and a test at my GP confirmed that I had developed type 2 diabetes.

I asked my doctor if I could try to manage it with my diet, but she said my blood glucose levels were too high and that I needed to bring it down with medication. After I was diagnosed, I was in shock. I was almost afraid to eat anything. Everything seemed to have sugar in it. But I started taking the medication and eventually I thought, ‘well that’s taking care of everything’.

So, after a while, I pretty much went back to the way I was eating before. I still ate loads of unhealthy foods.

Exercise

After my initial shock, I didn’t think too much about my diagnosis. I took my medication and would eat what I wanted. This would often consist of high in fat Indian foods, takeaways and unhealthy snacks such as crisps and fizzy drinks.

Within five years, I was taking the maximum dosage of metformin and was advised by my doctor that I needed to start taking more medication. I begged for some more time and went home to talk to my family. My husband suggested I join a running club. I hadn’t done any exercise since school! But I had nothing to lose, so I joined a beginners’ running club, which I came to really enjoy. I even learnt to ride a bike and swim and started doing triathlons. But my diet was still really bad.

As I approached my 50th birthday, I sat down with my sons to make a list of things I wanted to do before entering a new decade. One of the things they suggested was putting my diabetes in remission but I said it couldn’t be done!

Read Snita Sharma's complete story
Diabetes UK

Chloe GillumWas diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002

Work and diabetes

I always wanted to work with children, because of what I’d experienced when I was diagnosed aged nine. There were things I wanted to make better. I think the personal touch makes such a difference. If I went to my diabetes clinic around the time of my birthday or Christmas, there’d be no mention of it. So, I try to make a fuss of my patients at those times. I’m keen to celebrate the things that are going on in my patients’ lives that are outside of their health. 

Before I was accepted onto my nursing course at university, I had to do an occupational health check to make sure I was fit to work. That involved talking about what my requirements were, how much support I needed and making sure that my diabetes was well managed enough that I could live independently. 

When we started looking at nursing placements, I was allowed special compensations as a type 1. For example, I said that if my blood sugar is low in the morning, I’ve got to wait an hour before I can drive a car, so there wouldn’t be any point in putting me in a hospital that’s a two-hour drive away, because that would make me late for work. 

You don’t have to work nights as a type 1, so I could have opted out of doing nightshifts, but I was keen to try them. 

It was nice to know that I had the option of not working nights if I didn’t get on with it, or if my sugars weren’t that good as a result, but I’ve always done nights, both during my university placements and as a qualified nurse.

I got on with them quite well, even though working nights can mess up your hormones. I’m on an Omnipod insulin pump, but I guess if you’re on injections, it would be hard to work out when to do them. It took me around a year to figure out how much of a temporary basal to put on my pump and all those other bits and pieces.

When I worked nights, I did have a couple of lows when I was sleeping, because I forgot to put on a temporary basal. But, generally, working nights was less stressful and less busy, so I had more time to eat and to manage my own health on nightshifts. 

Read Chloe Gillum's complete story
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MohammedDaughter Evie diagnosed at 5.

Mohammed's diabetes story

Evie had not been herself for nearly a year and kept being misdiagnosed by her GP. It wasn’t until she slipped into a hypo coma and was rushed into The Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital that a diabetes specialist doctor looked at her and confirmed she had Type 1 diabetes. It was a massive shock to us all as it does not run in either of our family.

Evie was and continues to be a happy bubbly child but she lost a lot of weight and was constantly grumpy before being diagnosed. She was just skin and bone when she was admitted to hospital. But not even a week after diagnoses the colour had returned to her cheeks and she was back to her happy, bubbly and mischievous self.

It’s been a massive shock to us all. Evie's mum and I aren’t together and therefore I only see her twice a month. But I am eternally grateful for how Evie’s mum has, and will continue to, look after her.

Read Mohammed's complete story
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CaroleDiagnosed age 62.

Family history of diabetes

When I was diagnosed, I already I had an understanding of diabetes because of my family history. When I was a teenager, my little brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 11. He first started to have diabetes-related complications in his late 30’s and died after his legs were amputated at the age of 52. My father also had diabetes and was diagnosed later in life like me. He sadly went on to develop kidney failure and spent a few years on dialysis before he passed away. Both my nephews (my brother’s children) also have Type 1 diabetes. So when my GP told me I had diabetes, I wasn't altogether surprised. You don't have as many years ahead of you to cope with it I suppose, but it's still traumatic, and although I wasn't surprised I was terribly upset.

In the beginning, I was tested for high glucose (sugar) levels and told I had type 2 diabetes. I was put straight on tablets but was still getting worse, and my kidney results were getting a lot worse. Because LADA has a slow onset, it took about three years to diagnose me with Type 1 diabetes. In the end, I got so fed up and frustrated that I said to my GP ‘you know, I think I need to see a consultant.' My autoantibody test was of course positive, and it had been Type 1 diabetes all along.

I was obsessive about my levels before my flash glucose monitor, just because of my family history. I didn't want to end up like that. It's much easier with a monitor because you can test in an instant. I'm much more relaxed for sure, and it's helped me enormously. It's helped me relax because I know I can check and follow it. Although patterns are hard to find, I can spot some. And with my monitor, I can track them.

I wish someone had told me that when they give you your pile of insulin and needles and send you away, that every single day would be different. Although they give you a booklet, it's very understated. I wish someone had sat me down, looked me in the eye and said don't expect to have complete control of this.

Read Carole's complete story
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Zahoor BukhariDiagnosed age 49 in 1995.

My diabetes journey

 

  • Diagnosed in 1995 at the age of 49.       
  • With increasing blood sugar levels, he was prescribed gliclazide and six years later 500 mg of metformin added to his medication.
  • Eight years ago a healthier diet and increased activity levels resulted in Hba1c levels stabilising between 5.4 and 6.3.
  • Zahoor volunteers with Diabetes UK as a Community Champion
Read Zahoor Bukhari's complete story
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