Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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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.

Darren Armitstead exercising on bike.jpg

Darren ArmitsteadDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2018, at age 50.

Family life

I’ve got a supportive family around me, my four sons and daughter, my fiancée Denise and my dog Molly. Denise and I had to postpone our wedding due to Covid, which was tough. On top of that, we’ve both not been able to work. Denise worries about me, wants to protect me. I’m worried too sometimes, but I try to stay positive

Before Covid, I’d recently got into stand-up comedy. My eldest son was the reason I started, as he also performs stand-up comedy. I told him that I think I’m funnier than him, to which he replied, ‘’prove it!’’ So, I did (although he will still insist he is funnier).

Shielding

I’ve been shielding from the start of the pandemic because I take immune suppressant pills for my arthritis. The first two weeks were spent watching TV and worrying about money! I have now returned to work but during lockdown I was put in furloughed, due to lack of orders at work. Being an engineer and normally on my feet all day at work – I really missed being busy. I was also the chief dog walker before the pandemic struck, but I’ve had to miss out on that while shielding. 

When the mortgage holiday came though, it helped us a lot mentally. It’s been a really stressful time, as it has for many others.

Read Darren Armitstead's complete story
Mahesh doing yoga

Mahesh PatelDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 30

Stopping and starting

I was made redundant in 2012, and since then I have been doing some volunteering in schools and enjoy my work as a school governor. Truth is, I’ve had lots of stops and starts with sport and exercise since I was diagnosed and it’s been frustrating, especially trying to get back to the same level of sport that I used to be at.

Advice for others

If I were to give others advice about getting more active initially, I’d say just start with gentle walks. Then, having built up confidence with gentle walks, just extend your walks by walking further, or walking more briskly. Then maybe even a jog! Mixing it up with yoga, pilates and bike rides, is also good, as you’re using different muscle groups for each activity, and can do these safely on your own or in isolation. 

Shielding

As well as diabetes, I also have a heart condition and psoriasis. I’ve been self isolating then shielding during the pandemic. 

I had to have a pacemaker insertion in 2019 and feel a lot better following the procedure. I also take a drug called methotrexate for my psoriasis which suppresses my immune system but controls the condition well.

Having said all that I walk and cycle locally. The weather was a big factor during lockdown as I was able to get outside and work in the garden, go on long walks enjoying the wildlife and the countryside. I’ve also taken up yoga which I’d always wanted to try. I’ve been able to follow yoga and exercise videos online. There’s a lot out there, it’s brilliant! I’ve really enjoyed spending time the garden, landscaping, doing some planting, and I love bird watching.  

Read Mahesh Patel's complete story

Sean Carter-SelwoodDiagnosed with type 2 during the Covid-19 pandemic

Managing diabetes during lockdown

My GP referred me to the hospital in March and I was offered an emergency appointment. However, when they tested my blood glucose levels, it appeared to be a normal reading, which left the consultant scratching her head. She asked for all my bloods to be redone and sent away to be tested. She explained that if you have type 1 then you can go into a honeymoon period where your pancreas kicks back in but then stops working again. They told me to follow a low carb diet, take metformin and gave me a blood testing kit. I had to take a reading four times a day and email them the results.

It’s safe to say I picked the wrong time to be diagnosed, given we are in the middle of a global pandemic. It was really hard to get in touch with the hospital to get my results. I had the phone number for the department and you could leave messages, but I think because of covid, call backs were delayed. Because of this I wasn’t getting much support. I wasn’t really told by the professionals what diabetes was and how food affects our bodies, I hadn’t been referred for an education course or been given the opportunity to speak to someone about my diet. At the same time, the metformin was also making me feel unwell. I think had my diagnosis come about last year when the hospitals weren’t under so much strain, things might’ve been different.

It wasn’t until June that I finally had confirmation from the consultant that I in fact had type 2 diabetes and that my dose of metformin needed to be doubled to four tablets a day. 

Read Sean Carter-Selwood's complete story
Skids' story

Skids BradshawDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes aged 46 and raising awareness

A not-so shock diagnosis

It wasn't a surprise when I received the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. I knew it was coming to be honest, as the condition was already present in my family. My diet and nutrition regime was poor and I was experiencing the classic symptoms at the time; always thirsty and subsequently always going to the toilet. I knew my time had come.

I was shocked but not surprised when I was first diagnosed diabetes.  I tried not to let the condition affect me in my day-to-day life by taking the required drugs at the time, and more importantly changing my exercise and nutrition regime. Doing the latter means that now I don't take any drugs which I am very happy and positive about.

I came to terms with the condition from day one. I started to make the necessary changes and tried not to let it affect or define me. I feel I have things under control and plan to do so for a long time to come. The best advice I could give other people is to follow the advice given, make the necessary changes, read up on the condition and more importantly, don't let it take over your life.

These days my eating habits are pretty good. I eat lots of protein like chicken, steak, fish, as well as vegetables, berries, yoghurt and lots of water! Prior to my diagnosis I ate lots of processed meats, fast food, sugary drinks and sweets. My current habits are a great help in managing the condition and well as being better for me and I even have room for the occasional sweet treat.

Life with diabetes is what it is. I listened to the advice and instructions I was given, made the changes and am now reaping the benefits. I was lucky that for me, type 2 was mainly about changing my lifestyle which I was able to and continue to do.

So far I haven't really experienced any health complications and it doesn't really worry me at all. I try to deal with things as they happen, which has stood me in good stead so far. I'm not taking any medications at the moment as my exercise and nutrition regime are helping me manage my diabetes well.

I was a regular gym goer before lockdown and also did Zumba and karate. But for now, it's walking until I can get back into a proper routine.

 

Read Skids Bradshaw'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

Giving birth with diabetes

I was told that because I had type 1, I would be induced no later than 38 weeks because of concerns that the baby might grow too big

Two days before my induction date, my sugars kept dropping. I was needing no insulin. I called the consultant and he told me to come into hospital to be monitored, as it’s a sign that the placenta is starting to detach. When they examined me they found out I was already in early labour.

The next day, I was induced. I’d heard all these horror stories about induction taking days, but I had the pessary and within ten minutes I was in full-blown labour.

I’m fine with injections, but cannulas have always been an issue for me. I didn’t want to be managed using a cannula, so me and Dan monitored my sugars throughout the birth. I was only in labour for six hours, and out she came. Bronwen was 7lbs 1oz and she was perfect.

Those first hours after birth are crazy. I was given some toast, but Dan was starving so he ordered a pepperoni pizza to the delivery room. My sugars just went wild after labour. I didn’t understand at that point that if my sugars were high I could take insulin and have food. So if my sugars were high, I just wouldn’t eat. It’s ridiculous looking back, I was sitting there after labour, starving, and watching Dan eat pizza! 

After coming out of hospital, I ended up this little bubble where I was just looking after me and Bronwen. I had such a shocking pregnancy, but the birth and afterwards were so good. 

When Bronwen was small, I missed every appointment or deadline or timeframe that I ever needed to keep. You need to be 5mmol/mol to drive, and half the time I’d get ready, test my blood sugar and realise I couldn’t drive. I’d get my sugars up and then Bronwen would need her nappy changed. I’d think, ‘I’m never going to get out of this house!’ On some days it would really get me down. I’d think life was always going to be this hard. To a degree, life is harder now. I have to be more organised, which doesn’t suit me that much. I like to be quite spontaneous, but you’ve just got to accept it.

Read Shannon's complete story
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