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The diagnosis and wanting to avoid medication was the kick I needed to change my lifestyle

At 52, with the help of an NHS course and a supportive wife, John lost four stone.

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John with his wife Ann who joined him on the diabetes course so she could support him

I found out I had Type 2 diabetes in October 2013 at the age of 52 and it was a big shock! It originally began when I was to donate blood and they refused because my blood pressure was too high. I then went to the GP, who arranged a blood test, and then rang me the following evening with the news.

 

The diabetes nurse at my GP surgery wanted to prescribe me medication straight away. My fasting glucose level was about 10 or 11. I was really upset about going on medication, and distinctly remember my discussion with her and we agreed to defer it for one month and see if it remained the same. If it was I agreed I would go on the medication.

I went on a diet immediately. Within that first month I had lost 14lbs, and that was enough to bring the blood glucose level to normal, and thus avoided the medication.

In June 2014, I went on an evening self-help and information course about diabetes for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes run by the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. I found out about it from the diabetes nurse. It ran one night a week for six weeks.

There were about 30 people on the course, and it was comforting to learn that I was not “the odd one out”, and how common the condition is. Meeting others with diabetes, especially Type 1, made me realise that I had it really easy compared to others. It wasn't a death sentence for me, just a serious wake up call to get myself into gear and sort myself out!

It was very helpful to learn from healthcare professionals how to adopt a new lifestyle, and absorb new information about the condition, how to manage it, what to look for, and more importantly, to understand how to help myself improve.

This included more exercise, changing eating habits to a more healthy, and varied menu, and I was able to watch the weight literally fall off. Within three months I had lost 40lbs, and after 4 months I had dropped from 18st 3lbs, to 14st 3lbs.

My wife Ann came on the course with me. She’s not diabetic, just a wonderful supportive partner who wanted to help me through the situation. It really helped that we were both able to come away from each evening tutorial and discuss various elements and ideas. She has also benefited from the new dietary regime.

I’ve been able to keep this weight off and the benefits don’t stop there – my blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels have all stabilized, and generally I feel so much better.

Follow on course

I have also attended a supplementary follow-up course organised by the same team, effectively a re-cap, which also proved very useful. Also, knowing they are always available for further advise and help is a great comfort. It was a great motivation to try and lose the weight to try and avoid having to take medication, and thankfully I have been able to maintain my blood glucose levels by diet alone. No doubt this may change as I get older but for now, life is great, and long may it continue!

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