Posts Tagged ‘Type 2 diabetes’

The UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revealed that she was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.


It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it,” she said. “It started last November. I’d had a bad cold and cough for quite a few weeks. I went to my GP and she did a blood test which showed I’d got a very high sugar level – that’s what revealed the diabetes.

“The symptoms are tiredness, drinking a lot of water, losing weight, but it’s difficult to isolate things. I was drinking a lot of water. But I do anyway. There was weight loss but then I was already making an effort to be careful about diet and to get my gym sessions in.”

The Home Secretary says she has been told that she will have to inject herself with insulin twice a day for the rest of her life–but she has no fear of needles and intends to carry on in her Cabinet post.

Mrs May’s determination to get on with her life reminds me of my mother, Molly Ellis.


June 1955. Brother Jack in Molly’s arms. Her doctors overcame their doubts about letting her proceed with the pregnancy despite being a Type 1 diabetic.

Molly was diagnosed with Type 1 aged 38 in 1953.

She too injected herself twice a day for the rest of her life.

Eventually she died of a sudden heart attack linked to her condition–but she made it to 67–almost 30 years with Type 1 diabetes–and in those days treatment was not as advanced as it is now.

Molly was not a professional politician–and the cabinet she loved best was hanging in a corner! But she carried on leading a full life, running the household and raising three boys.

The last six years of her life were spent in a Buckinghamshire village called Brill–not too far from Oxford. She and Dad retired there from London. They threw themselves into village life and were much appreciated for it.

I’d wager that not many in the village, apart from her doctor,  John Spence, knew she was diabetic–and few would have understood what it meant.


Molly relaxing in Brill–after preparing lunch I’d guess!

She never liked to make a fuss.

Her heart attack happened one morning as she was finishing dressing to go shopping. Her heart finally gave up after years of struggle.

Her gift to me was an understanding of how damaging diabetes can be if ignored. When I received my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in my mid-fifties, I took it seriously, thanks to witnessing my mother’s journey.

There’s still a shocking ignorance surrounding the condition.

Theresa May’s high profile and very public admission that she is Type 1 helps focus attention on and heighten awareness of this ruthless and insidious menace.

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Diabetes awareness is improving!

The supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, publish a magazine and they recently ran a four-page spread on diabetes…

…which included an interview with me.

It’s a subscription magazine and unavailable free on-line; but we’ve cheated and photographed the interview!

If you click on it, you can test your juggling skill to read it!


A UK diabetes charity* with a monthly newsletter asked me to contribute a piece for the September issue: Diabetes Wellness News Sept 12 0.5

(Scroll down to find my piece on pages 5, 6 and 8.)

*Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation

Awareness is all.

The figures are staggering:

There are an estimated 80 million undiagnosed cases of Type 2 Diabetes in the USA and

800, 000 in the UK.

I had no symptoms–but a simple blood test revealed the truth.

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The numbers of undiagnosed diabetes in western countries is astonishingly high. Even when people get the right diagnosis (often YEARS after they’ve developed the disease) there’s often little support for how to make appropriate changes to lifestyle and way of eating.
I stumbled on this inspiring Type 2 diabetic story today from a newspaper in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette.
It has a happy ending….

Recognize diabetes before it’s too late!

By Kate Long

Everette Roberts in October, 2011 (left) and six months later in April, 2012. 
Quitting soda pop, eating right and staying active has made a world of difference, I don’t get sweats and blurry vision any more, I’ve got a lot more energy, and my outlook is better.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — The winter of 2010-11, it snowed a lot in Mingo County. Fifty-four-year-old Everette Ray Roberts was shut in for days, me and my dogin a small trailer perched on a steep hillside near Matewan.

A rugged bachelor, Roberts has three ruptured discs in his back from heavy lifting. 

 “I was constantly dizzy and thirsty, with all the snow, I wasn’t getting out and walking around, doing stuff. I’d gained a lot of weight. My eyes got blurry. I’d get so shaky, sitting on the couch watching TV, and I was pouring down the 24-ounce bottles of pop, five or six of them a day. It was like adding gasoline to the fire, all that sugar, but I didn’t know it.

All I knew was, I was terrible thirsty. I kept a gallon of water sitting beside me for when I ran out of pop. I couldn’t sleep. I’d get real, real sweaty;  kept running to the bathroom. I thought maybe it was high blood pressure or something.  I had no idea what danger I was in.”

He was one of an estimated 69,000 West Virginians who have diabetes, but don’t know it.

“Going to the doctor in the snow is not exactly easy, and it’s expensive.”

When he finally did go,  the doctor told him he had all the symptoms of diabetes: blood sugar was up the high 400s and A1C [the three-month blood sugar levels] was 12.5.

His doctor referred him to diabetes educator and nurse practitioner Vicki Lynn Hatfield.

Hatfield and her partner help about 500 of the area’s estimated 3,500 diabetics figure out how to control the condition from day to day, despite sometimes harsh realities of life: shortage of cash, two jobs, kids, and so on.

“I lucked out, if it hadn’t been for Vicki, I’d probably be in kidney failure now,” Everette said.

He and Hatfield went over what he ate, how often he ate, his schedule, his physical activity.

To get rid of his dizziness, shakiness and blurry vision, they planned specific ways he could change what he ate or when he ate and increase physical activity every day. They also got his medicine adjusted.

Everette went to Hatfield’s group Diabetes Self-Management Classes at Williamson Memorial Hospital.

He learned how to shop for food that wouldn’t set off his blood sugar, how to read his own blood sugar levels, how to cope with periods of depression.

“Everette is somebody who, once he found out how to control his diabetes, he took the reins,” says Vicki Hatfield.

A year later, his blood sugar was in normal range. He requires less medicine to keep it there.

“He doesn’t have a lot of money and he doesn’t have a lot of education, but he learned very quickly how to do it. And, just as important, he did it!” 

Hatfield dished it out to him in small steps, he said. He learned what foods would keep him stable and how to lower his blood sugar by taking a walk, how to buy healthy foods on a budget.

“There’s a whole lot more to it than what I thought….

I stay on the move now, 24/7 , I cook for myself. I take the skin off my chicken, and bake it instead of fry it. I make myself a lot of salads. I like salad and I put all kinds of stuff in them, vegetables, meat.

Vicki Hatfield adds,

“People are not born knowing the symptoms of diabetes, and they aren’t born knowing how to control it, and it takes more than a 15-minute doctor visit to help them get a handle on all they need to know.
I have found that if I can get people the information, most will apply it, with whatever means they have. We’ve got plenty of patients who don’t have a lot of education and income, but that doesn’t have to stop them!”

She keeps trying new ways to stamp out diabetes .

Two years ago, she helped start a Mingo County Diabetes Coalition. Now they have a five-year grant for $50,000 a year through Marshall University to spread diabetes awareness and prevention through the county.

Hatfield now offers diabetes prevention classes.

“People tell their neighbors what they learned. So it’s spreading.”

The coalition plans to post symptoms of diabetes in store windows and telephone poles all over the county.

“We want people to know they can catch it early. If we can get people to go after it like Everette has, our diabetes rate should drop.”

Last word to Everette:

“I would tell anybody, the bottom line of it is, if you don’t set it in your mind that you’re going to get it under control, then it’s not going to get better.

It’s up to you whether you do or you don’t.”

(If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with diabetes, feel free to share your experience of post-diagnosis support in the comments.)

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At this time of year my body submits to a pretty thorough going over.

Testing times!

For a couple of days last week I was on tenderhooks around noon–the hour the post usually arrives chez nous–waiting for my January test results.

Every three months I have a test to measure hemoglobin A1c (average blood sugar levels) which charts how well these are being controlled.

At the end of year, the list of tests is longer and includes liver, kidneys, blood cells, PSA (prostate), cholesterol–a full service, in car terms!

All the results from this comprehensive check-up are important, but I was most concerned to see the blood sugar average.

The test at the end of October had shown an uncharacteristic spike.

Michel, my doctor here–who has helped me adapt to the condition and been my monitor over the last thirteen years–decided to supplement my daily pill (30mg gliclazide) with something new.

But I had a mind to delay the daily dose of Januvia he’d prescribed–to continue to eat moderately, to watch my weight and to exercise regularly and see if the October result was a rogue reading, before taking another drug to counteract a possible trend.

Michel also prescribed a dose of vitamin D as a boost to my overall well being– 2.5 mg a month.

Vitamin D is in the news as a possible addition to the diabetic’s armoury.

No definitive results have been established yet confirming that the vitamin is effective in reducing insulin resistance, but the evidence is mounting and the general beneficial effects to be gained from regular consumption convinced me that I should go ahead and swallow!

The system works well here. We ring the local nurses’ office the night before and a nurse comes the next morning to take a blood sample. She dispatches it to the clinic for analysis and as often as not we get the results by post the following day–taking the waiting out of worrying.

At noon I was listening for the post van.

By quarter past I knew I had another 24 hours to wait–no envelope.

It arrived the next day, but it didn’t help my anxiety to discover that the clinic had changed the layout and formating–it was not immediately clear where to look!

I found it though and it was GOOD NEWS!–the level had virtually been restored.

Next for the third degree, in ten days time–the eyes!

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