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Going on a DESMOND course gave me my life back

When Mack was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes aged 62, he was so depressed he took to his bed. But finally getting clued up on the condition with a free NHS course put him back in control.

When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2000 aged 62, I felt lost and depressed. Up until my diagnosis, my wife and I had travelled the world to all sorts of way out places, and now I thought all this was about to come to an end.

All I had ever heard about diabetes was doom and gloom from what you read in the papers or see on the television, I thought, wrongly, that all our days of travel were now over and life would be one long boring existence, punctuated with diabetic clinics and treatment.

The information I received form my GP when he told me of my condition, was to say the least poor. I was so depressed that I took to my bed and refused to get up, or speak to anybody, such was my depression that my wife managed to get the GP to come and see me at home, and if your GP is like mine, that is no easy task, but he came and told me not to be so silly and that help was available, and I would receive an appointment to see a dietitian in the next few weeks.

Fortunately before this appointment came through we noticed a piece in the newspaper about an information day being run by Lloyds chemists in the nearby city, so off we went. At this open day I learnt a lot more about what it meant to be diabetic and what I needed to do to control it which I managed to do by diet only for the next seven years before I needed to take medication, Metformin. 

Feeling forgotten

All this time I felt forgotten, the local diabetic clinic every six months was just a short visit to discus my blood test and cholesterol results, check weight, ask if I smoked, how many units of alcohol I consumed, once every year, check my feet, then make my next appointment. There was no mention on how I was managing or if I had any serious worries about any thing. After another three or four years I noticed that I had to visit the toilet more often, not to pass water, I could not go out without noting the location of the nearest public toilets. At my next regular appointment I mentioned this to the doctor who said he was aware of this effect on some people, and with that changed my medication.

Some time later I overheard a person telling another about a Diabetic awareness course called DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) run by the NHS. I asked him what it was and he told me how it had helped him take control of his Diabetes. Although I did not live in the same location as this person I rang the number he gave me and was informed that they would pass on my details to the local DESMOND unit, which they did.

All I can say about this is that the DESMOND course was the start of my new life, I was told what diabetes was, what had most likely caused it and most of all how I could get my life back and not feel ruled by this condition.

What I got from DESMOND

If I have only one chance to influence anybody with diabetes about anything, it is to advise them to find their local unit and get enrolled on one of the courses, It is only eight hours over two weeks but, it is eight hours that will change your life for the better. You learn that no food is of limits, only how much and how often you can have it. How exercise helps you control your blood levels as well as your weight. What your type of medication is doing and why it is needed and what are the side effects if any, like loose bowels, and when is the best time of the day to take it.

You also meet others who want to know more about their diabetes, and find out how they are managing and what food they have found works for them.

And most of all, it is free, something that appealed to a Yorkshire Man, even the original phone call was an 0800 number. I am now on a single Sulphonylureas tablet, and need to test my blood more regularly, but I still feel I have my diabetes under control with average readings now around the 55mmol/mol.  

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