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As a Diabetes Champion, I can share what I've learnt about living with diabetes

Manjula was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes five years ago. She tells us how she learnt to manage her condition and how she shares her knowledge with others. 

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Manjula doing her weekly shop.

I am 50 years old, married and have three boys aged 19, 14 and eight. I am a chemistry graduate and worked for 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, giving up my job 12 years ago to become a full time mother.

 

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about five years ago and for the first month or so I was in denial as I didn’t know anything about diabetes.

Learning how to manage my diabetes

My GP practice did not offer me any advice or guidance (apart from an A4 paper with a list of foods to avoid) on how I can best manage my condition, which left me apprehensive and confused about my health and future.

I was advised to lose weight but it looked like I had to cut down on so many different foods, I didn’t know how to go about it.

So I decided to research on the internet. I acquired a lot of useful information, which made me so much more aware of my condition and how I could still live a full life. 

For me, that meant cutting down on sugary things that have no nutritional value, like cakes and sweets, biscuits, etc.

It doesn’t mean I can’t ever eat these things, I just have to be mindful.

Gradually, I changed the eating habits for the whole family, we all now eat more vegetables and salads.  I love cooking and like to make things interesting, so that really helped.

Regarding medication, I’m still on Metfornin, but I have known other people with diabetes who have needed to take increasing levels of medication and insulin.  

I really feel that by eating healthily and keeping active, I’ve managed to control my diabetes better.

Manjula

Sharing my knowledge

Around the time of my diagnosis, when my last son started full time school, I started doing voluntary work in my community, Chalkhill, delivering well-being projects, such as healthy eating cooking classes, ‘do it yourself happiness’, healthy lunch boxes workshops at the local school etc.

My local Community Centre was looking for someone to run a support group for people with diabetes – I was able to run it with the knowledge I had gained for myself, so when I saw an advert from Brent Council stating they were looking for volunteers to become Diabetes Champions, I jumped at the chance.

Brent Council and Diabetes UK trained me.

As a Diabetes Champion I run a monthly support group for peoplSae with the condition, to help them manage it, help raise awareness at local events and carry out risk assessments.

Having the condition myself and understanding the difficulties and challenges involved in having to make life changes has motivated me to help others in a similar situation. The appreciation shown by the people I have empowered is amazing, knowing I could be making a difference and helping to improve someone’s life is the reward.

My advice to someone else who has just been diagnosed with diabetes is that it’s not the end of the world, once you’ve managed and maintained your blood sugar levels, it’s about living a healthy life which everyone should do anyway, whether you have diabetes or not.

The training from Diabetes UK, not only confirmed what I had learned, it increased my knowledge, which gives me more confidence to pass on to my group. Knowing that I have support from, and an association with Diabetes UK gives my group trust in me, new members always want to know what training I have to run the group, they are satisfied when they hear I have been trained by Diabetes UK and am supported by them.

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