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The DAFNE course absolutely blew me away

"I was diagnosed with Type 1 in August 2002 at the age of 16, after visiting my GP complaining of being tired weight loss all the usual (at the time a friend said to me ‘your looking good whatever your doing to lose weight keep it up.’ I had no clue what I was doing!!).

I was rushed straight to A&E as they were sure I would have Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) seeing as I had these symptoms for so long. Thank god I didn't, but straight away I was put on a drip seeing as I was dehydrating. I spent three days in the hospital and was sent home not knowing a thing about diabetes.

It went from bad to worse. I was checking my blood glucose levels 10 to 14 times a day and taking my insulin, but had no clue how much insulin to take based on the food I was eating so my blood glucose levels went everyday from two to 20 and from 20 to two.

I was taking about eight injections a day. Every time I went high I took an injection then went low etc etc and over the years put on more and more weight leaving me feeling like a yo-yo and getting upset with myself thinking every time that I had got it wrong. I tried exercise but only ended up having more hypos.

Every time I went to the doctors they were not very supportive and just said take more/less insulin and you need to loose weight, not telling me how I was supposed to work it all out, which left me feeling that there was no hope because if the doctors had told me everything they know and it still hasn't worked then who would be able to make it work.

Things took there toll when I dropped out of college due to not being able to study because I felt horrible everyday which left me feeling very isolated and not knowing where to turn. My mum had heard of the Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating (DAFNE) course and at my next appointment mentioned it to the doctor who said that they do not do the course in my hospital but he will try and refer me to a hospital that runs the course.

I was very sceptical thinking to myself that I have already heard all what the doctors have to say and there is no hope for me. It took a year and a half with my doctor giving a different excuse each time why I hadn't been referred yet, but eventually I was referred to another hospital where they run the course and the rest is history. I attended the course with great scepticism thinking that it was pointless and it would just be a bunch of psycho’s round a table saying how they suffered etc. But it was far from that, it was the best and only thing I had come across since I was diagnosed.

The DAFNE course absolutely blew me away. I left it with a good understanding of the science behind diabetes, which helps you understand why things happen with your blood glucose/insulin the way they do, thereby making the everyday boring insulin injection/blood tests something you actually understand why you are doing, and the exact effect it is having.

You learn a step to step practical solution on how to control your blood glucose levels by basing your insulin on the carbs you eat etc - something which I did not believe was possible, and an understanding of why you need long term insulin plus your short acting plus information on health care travel etc, etc.

It has now been three and a half months since I attended the course I have lost 60lbs, my blood glucose control is close to perfect (as close as you can get), something I thought would never happen. I very rarely go hypo/hyper and if my blood glucose levels do go high I know exactly how much correction dose to take rather than just guessing and getting another hypo if they go low, I know how many carbs to take, my insulin requirements have halved, I feel much better day to day, I am now doing eight hours or more of exercise a week without going hyper as I know exactly how much insulin/carbs I need to cover the exercise.

I am checking my blood glucose on average only four times and taking ‘only’ four injection a day, very rarely taking more than four injections, which is a big change from 10 to 14 blood tests a day and eight injections, which still didn't give me good control. And things are so far keeping up. It is not easy and it takes a lot of self control but it is definitely worth it. Hard work is guaranteed to show good results and so far only good results they have been.

I have learnt from my experience that nobody is going to care for your health if you don't. You have to be your own doctor - don't rely on your doctor to care for you, they have to much on there hands. Unless you demand it you will not get good care. Try to get yourself on a DAFNE course, if necessary change doctors (I have now moved my complete care over to the hospital where I took the DAFNE course as the staff are much better and more supportive). If you are unsure about something, ask again. Make sure you know what you are doing, don't be scared to ask for help.

If you put hard work in you will see good results. Don't blame yourself for having diabetes, it is not your fault and you will never know why you were diagnosed but stand up to the music and come to terms with it rather than reject it because if you come to terms and look after it, you will be much better off than if you reject it. Once you have it controlled you will realize that it is not as bad as you thought and it is manageable and you will appreciate your everyday health much more (and who knows some days I even enjoy the challenge)."

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