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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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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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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

Sarita Sarita Gandhi was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1994

Switching to insulin

At first, I was worried about having to inject myself. But, like everything, you get used to it after a while. The nurse came to my house and showed me how to do it. She was really supportive and said she could come back if I needed more help, but I wanted to get used to it on my own. Now I inject 28 units of insulin every morning and evening, as well as 11 units during the afternoon. I don’t mind because I know it’s helping me.

Read Sarita 's complete story
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Neil HunterDiagnosed with type 2 in 2005

I was put on medication for the first year

It increased every time I went back for a review, which was quite regular at that time. When I was on the maximum amount of medication they could give me at that time and it wasn’t really making an impact, insulin was suggested as an option. At the time, my career in the Navy meant I wasn’t allowed to go to sea until my diabetes had stabilised, and I wasn’t able to go to sea if I was on insulin. But from a health point of view, it was a no-brainer.

Read Neil Hunter's complete story
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Chris CookDiagnosed with diabetes in summer 2007 at the age of 33

Zoe's help made all the difference

I was naturally worried about injecting myself being totally blind and with the reduced sensitivity caused by my Riley Day Syndrome. How could I maintain my independence and not injure myself by pushing the needle in too far? These and many other concerns were swirling round my mind, when I arrived at my local diabetes clinic. 

I'd like to pay great tribute to an extremely experienced and dedicated diabetes specialist nurse Zoe, who calmly and methodically began talking through all my concerns and teaching me how to use the pre-filled pen and needle. 

Zoe had had plenty of previous experience of teaching people with very little or no sight how to use such pens and this proved to be invaluable. Healthcare professionals who aren’t used to dealing with visual impairment may have taken the attitude that I might need to have someone help me inject myself on a daily basis, but you always want to live as independently as possible.

Zoe’s been outstanding. She taught me how many clicks of the dial I needed to count round, to dial up the correct dose and the process of unpacking, fitting, using and disposing of the needles. 

We both decided that auto-cover needles were the best sort for me to use, as there was no danger of me accidentally pricking my fingers whilst fitting the new needle and thereby potentially contaminating it, or when removing and disposing of it afterwards. 

Zoe's calmness and ever positive attitude really shone through and I quickly became familiar with the safe operation of the equipment and have been able to inject totally independently from the very beginning with only the odd minor issue along the way.

When I had to switch to a new Semaglutide pen, the needles I’d come to rely on weren’t listed as fitting that pen. But Zoe said: 'there’s no reason why the needles you know and love won't fit the new pen" and she turned out to be quite right!. I then encouraged her to spread the word via the drug company reps and other channels, in case there were others like me out there using these auto-cover needles, who needed to switch to the same type of pen.
 

Read Chris Cook's complete story
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