at the support group she set up in Newport to help those living with diabetes
Image Credit: Diabetes UK
“I make sure I get all my checks and by taking that control myself, that responsibility, I’m reducing my risk of developing these complications.”
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in May 2014. But I’d been getting what I now know as the symptoms for around six to nine months before that.
I’d become incredibly thirsty all the time and was drinking gallons of the wrong stuff, like bottles of sugary, fizzy drinks.
So I was going to the toilet a lot to pass urine, and then developed bad thrush. I’d constantly wake in the night to go to the toilet and would then end up falling asleep in my chair. I could barely sit down due to the pain so visited my GP in a desperate state.
I was in a desperate state by the time I was diagnosed
My doctor (GP) had a specialist interest in diabetes and made me come back the following day for blood tests. When I phoned for the results I was told, “We can’t tell you the results over the phone, but we’ve made an appointment for you to see the nurse in the diabetic clinic.”
Between being told this on the Tuesday and attending my appointment on the Friday, I’d read every horror story you can find on Google and was incredibly worried and upset.
I burst into tears in the middle of the supermarket, abandoned my trolley and went home.
I was in there around half an hour with my mum, and all I can remember is them saying it was a lifelong condition and I needed to make lifestyle changes.
I left the appointment and went straight to do my normal weekly shop. I remember picking everything up and reading the labels of all the stuff I’d normally buy and having to put the food back on the shelves.
In the end, I burst into tears in the middle of the supermarket, abandoned my trolley and went home. I was in shock.
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Speaking with a diabetes specialist changed my life
My turning point was when I was sat in my doctor’s surgery and saw a postcard for a Diabetes UK event.
That was the day that completely changed my life. I spoke to dietitians, diabetes specialist nurses, consultants – everyone was there to do their bit.
After the event, the message hit home that, with good management, I can do something to avoid serious diabetes complications like sight loss, kidney problems or needing an amputation.
I needed more support and I sometimes feel isolated
It was at the same event when they asked who would like a support group in Newport (the area I lived) and 200 hands went up.
Not long after that, I started the group. I started it because when I was first diagnosed, I wanted someone to say to me: “It’s not the end of the world, come and have a cup of tea and a chat.”
I can sometimes feel isolated. My kids are amazing and very supportive, but there are times when I get frustrated because they don’t understand what it’s like as they don’t have to live with it.
Speaking to others with diabetes helps enormously
When I’m feeling down, really down, it can feel like it’s the end of the world. There are times when I don’t know how I’m going to carry on, but it’s at those dark times that I pick up the phone and speak to someone from the group or send them a few text messages. This really picks me up.
When I was first diagnosed, I was in a bit of a rut and felt really sorry for myself because I was unwell. But I now feel that my diagnosis has given me a purpose – to spread my knowledge and raise awareness with as many people as I can.
I hope my work is making a difference, as so many people are now being diagnosed with diabetes and just don’t know what to do next.