Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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.

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.

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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. 
 

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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.

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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.

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Neil looks to the camera wearing warm clothes

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.

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