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Yvonne's story: Coming to terms with type 2 diabetes


Yvonne was diagnosed in April 2022

"People don’t realise that with type 2 diabetes you can be thin on the outside but have extra fat on the inside."

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has been a shock for Yvonne. She shares her experience. And talks about bringing forward her dream to make the journey of a lifetime.


"It was scary and terrifying to be diagnosed."

My only symptom  of type 2 diabetes was that I couldn’t see my computer screen because of blurred vision. I thought I’d spent too long without a rest. I went to the optician and got sent very urgently to the doctor. They did an HbA1c blood test and my levels were twice what they should have been. 

My diagnosis was a massive shock. My doctor looked at me and said: ‘you shouldn’t have it’. I keep myself incredibly fit and have no family history of diabetes. I have always exercised regularly, had a healthy BMI (23), ate a seemingly healthy diet and don’t drink or smoke.

People also tell me I shouldn't have type 2 diabetes. I wear size 10 trousers. But they don’t realise that they could be at risk too. That you can be thin on the outside but have extra fat inside.  

I read everything I could find about diabetes. That’s my way of dealing with stuff. I’ve been well supported. My GP has a specialism in diabetes and there’s a diabetes nurse in the practice. I couldn’t believe how many tests I had to have – almost like a fully body MOT. That’s good and you feel you’re getting the care and support you need.

You wouldn’t believe how much I read up about it. I hate the thought of taking medication but I was put on two metformin a day – two more than I want. But I have to accept that I need a bit of help. 

Food and healthy eating

Making changes

Although my diet was relatively healthy, I had to cut down on things like pasta and jacket potatoes to follow a low carb diet. And although I hate cooking with a passion, I started cooking from scratch.

I’m an organised and disciplined person andI haven’t eaten any cakes, sweets, crisps for a year. There are certain food aisles I don’t got down in the supermarket anymore so I don’t have to look at them. My husband does a lot of the shopping. I give him a list. 

I have about 10 recipes and eat things like cauliflower rice or courgetti with bolognaise or chicken or fish dishes, bean burgers made with celeriac, a few oatcakes with tinned mackerel if I am walking, and low sugar fruits like raspberries, blueberries and apples. That’s my lifestyle now. 

A combination of medication and the low-carb diet made a big difference to my blood sugar levels. My last HbA1c was 6% – down from 13.8%. And my BMI is down to 21.5.

Diabetes UK and me

What helped me

I found information on the Diabetes UK website helpful. I’m not a very forum-y person, but I also looked at the Diabetes UK forum from time to time. Although there were not many people like me, and I'm not the type to bare my soul, some of it was helpful.

I did some of the courses on Learning Zone. That was helpful. I could do them at my own pace in my own time. I learnt things about my feet which is really important and understanding the complications. It was quite scary at times to see that I could end up with gangrene. I know people who have lost limbs as a result of diabetes. Even if I maintain my blood sugar levels, it’s still a concern. 

It was a major thing coming to terms with my diagnosis as there are still so many things I want to do. I had counselling through work and chatted to friends and family. It’s great to have that support but you do have to come to it yourself.

It took me three or four months just getting my head around it and going through the grieving process, and what I have lost. 


Walk of a lifetime

I have always dreamed of walking between Land's End and John O'Groats when I retired. And I have decided to take a career break from my job as a project manager for four months in 2023 to realise this ambition. Problem solving is part of my DNA, so I’ve had to treat the walk like a little project: break it down into little bits.Take each day at a time, plan for contingency.

I wanted to prove to myself that I could still achieve great things despite having this condition and while I'm still fit and able to do it. Diabetes UK is one of the three charities that I have

Back up

My husband will provide me with the technical support – and fresh supplies of washing, food and some special healthy flapjack that friends are making for me. He’ll be there at the end of the day on the good days and the bad.

Sometimes I’m camping, sometimes I’m staying in bed and breakfasts or hotels. All my accommodation is booked. 

I’ve got to make sure I don’t get blisters and infections. I do a lot of walking and have very comfortable boots, so I could physically walk further each day but I don’t want to put myself under that pressure. I want to enjoy the experience and not feel like I’m having to rush — that’s when you start to injure yourself. 

Remission hopes

I’ve accepted that my diabetes is going to be there for life. It will be sitting there in the background and part of the acceptance is learning to live with it. I’d love remission to happen. My GP said it’s unlikely because I don’t have the weight to lose. I can still hope it might happen. I tend to be somebody that’s realistic about stuff. If I made putting myself into remission my end goal and that doesn’t happen, I would feel that I’ve failed and nobody wants to feel like that.

Although  this has been a tricky journey to navigate and I can still be tripped up by an unexpected high blood sugar reading, I can see myself on the positive side now.

Find out the latest research on remission for people with lower body weights (BMIs)

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