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Treatments

There are a number of treatments available to help you treat your diabetes, from insulin pumps to tablets and medication. Here we share stories about the different ways in which people have learnt to manage their condition, to help you understand what options you have.

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Diagnosed with type 2 after having gestational diabetes

Going on medication

When I was diagnosed, I really blamed myself. When I was pregnant I was concerned about whether my children were going to be okay. It took me a long time to realise that it wasn't actually my fault and that it was something that was out of my control. Being a nurse and having some knowledge was probably quite difficult, because I look after people that have had leg ulcers because of their diabetes or have neuropathy, and even amputations. I’d seen the worst side of diabetes. For the first 12 months, I religiously made myself eat properly. And I did manage to control the diabetes for a little while with just diet. 

But then I couldn’t anymore, which was when I started metformin and insulin. I take these twice a day, and sometimes extra as well, because it's not as well-controlled as it should be. I think I've really struggled with feeling like I've done something wrong. Lots of people have said ‘it's not your fault.’ But obviously you don't think that when you get told you've got something wrong with you – you automatically blame yourself.

I’ve been quite surprised at the lack of emotional support from my healthcare team at times. Since I’m a nurse, often the nurses think I must know it all. But looking after yourself is very different to giving advice to a patient.

I think it's quite frightening how easy it is to end up having a hypo. You’re taught about how to deal with it but not about how it's going to feel. It's nice to have that empathy for my patients now. 
 

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LibbyDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 3.

How we treat our daughter's diabetes

Jayne

At first, Libby cried every time we came at her with a needle to test her blood sugars or inject her insulin, her but then she just accepted it. She didn’t get the Freestyle Libre for months, so she would groan and say “oh not again” when we needed to inject her. That would make it hard.

She’s a lot more aware now that we've got the technology and that makes things a lot easier for her. Obviously now in school she knows she’s the only one that wears a pump and the only one that needs her insulin before dinner. But I don’t think she really knows the dangers of high and low blood sugar. And it’s not something I want to discuss with her until she’s old enough to understand.

“We are like Libby's pancreas now – we need to give her her insulin. You need it for everything: every carb you have in the day.” – Mike

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A picture of Maureen smiling into the camera

MaureenDiagnosed in 2020

Struggling to find the right treatment

My symptoms started around October 2019, just after I’d been diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). They gave me steroids to try to treat my condition, but then I started to feel really unwell. I felt dizzy, my vision was blurry and I was constantly thirsty. At one of my appointments, the doctor suggested checking my blood glucose (sugar) levels. It turned out that taking the steroids had pushed my levels up, and that’s when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

After meeting my diabetes nurse and chatting through my treatment options, I decided to try a low dose of medication to begin with. I was also told about other things to monitor, such as my diet and lifestyle, but I wasn’t given a huge amount of detail or support.

My appointment with my dietitian was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the medication I was taking didn’t end up agreeing with me at all. It left me with an upset stomach and caused fluctuations in my weight where I’d lose a bit and then put more back on.

When I first called the helpline, I was absolutely exhausted and felt so helpless. I’d come off my medication as it wasn’t working for me, but my weight continued to creep up and up. The doctors suggested I try a new treatment, but I was the heaviest I had ever been and I knew something needed to change.

Read Maureen's complete story
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Brenda RileyDiagnosed with diabetes at the age of 58 in 2005.

What's helped in lockdown

Just before lockdown I had an appointment with my diabetes consultant who asked me if I’d like to be put onto Dapagliflozin. I had actually been on the trial that led to it being prescribed for people with type 1 as well as people with type 2 diabetes.

Since taking Dapagliflozin over the last few months, my HbA1c has come down from 75 to 61mmol/mol, I’ve lost some weight and my blood pressure has improved. 

To help me reduce my HbA1c and my risk of getting Covid I’ve been paying for myself to use the Freestyle Libre full time. This means it’s easier to keep a closer eye on my blood sugar. It means I don’t have to keep washing my hands to do finger prick tests when I’m out shopping or at the hospital.

My hypo awareness is quite good. But when you’re living alone, using the Freestyle Libre is very reassuring. It makes it so easy to see what my blood glucose levels are doing – and to take any relevant action. 
 

Read Brenda Riley's complete story
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Abdul RaisAbdul Rais was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1999 at the age of 46

Getting help for hypos

I was told I was going to have to learn to inject the insulin myself – which sent shivers down my spine as I had an absolute phobia about needles. I remember the nurse, bless her, spent two days with me when she was on her break to help me so come to terms with the process of injecting myself so I could leave hospital.

Over the next two years I managed to get my HbA1c to 5.3% – and I was keen to come off insulin. The doctor agreed and I was put on medication until 2013. But although I was managing my diet well and I’d started doing a lot of walking, my HbA1c had gone up to 8%. So I was put back on insulin.

I started getting really bad hypos although I was trying different amounts of insulin. My fear of hypos became so great I started losing sleep and was constantly checking my blood sugar levels. In 2017, my diabetes consultant told me about a new ‘wonder’ drug – Dapagliflozin. I came off insulin and started taking that, along with Metformin - which I’ve always taken - and Sitagliptin and I haven’t had a hypo since taking these three tablets. I can’t say my blood glucose levels are great but they’re reasonable.

Read Abdul Rais's complete story
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