Your Stories

Laura - Living with diabetes - The ninjabetic way

After living with Type 1 Diabetes for 11 years, I've come to realise that I'm quite proud of my condition. Diabetes doesn't control me or my life, but it has definitely helped shape me and make me the person I am today.

When people ask me why I'm testing my blood sugars or why the small box I have in my pocket has suddenly started beeping and vibrating, I happily tell them "I have Type 1 diabetes" and secretly hope that they will probe me for further information. I can be a massive show off at times, and I love to enlighten people if they ask me questions.

I get that warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy when I share some diabetes information and the response is "Oh I see... I didn't know that." It's a very satisfying feeling to impart diabetes knowledge onto someone. I feel that I have a little role to play in educating others about the way people with Type 1 really live with diabetes, by dispelling the myths that are portrayed by the media and setting the record straight. In fact my friends are now so clued up on diabetes that they tell others about it!

Saying "Yes I can eat this" is a personal favourite of mine, occasionally followed by a long and detailed explanation of carbohydrate counting (strangely people don't tend to ask again after that).

The way I see it is that I'm stuck with diabetes, there's nothing that I can do about it, so why not make the most of it.

Yes diabetes has its disadvantages. Waking up at 3am dripping with sweat, feeling dizzy and wondering how long it would take to make a roast dinner followed by apple crumble, just to satisfy my hypo cravings. However diabetes also has advantages. I can't think of any other illness that requires jelly babies or haribo as life saving treatment! Saying "Get me some jelly babies. STAT!" is possibly my favourite thing about having diabetes.

I think it's very important to have fun with diabetes. If your rabbit happens to chew through your pump tubing (as I heard happened to someone recently), it isn't the end of the world. I once dropped my lancet down the toilet twice in the same day and, after much shouting and running around with a toilet brush, I realised that I had to once again take the plunge and laugh it off.

I understand that diabetes is a serious condition and it can come with some serious complications if we don't take care of it, but no one is perfect 100% of the time... I've learnt that over the years. I've made mistakes... some huge life changing mistakes... but I've learnt from each and every one of them.

That for me is the biggest part of living with diabetes... accepting that I won't get it right every time, but knowing that I will get it right eventually.

Laura tweets as @ninjabetic1

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David Adams - Feeling the benefit of regular exercise

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1993 when I was 35 years old, I was aware of the condition as my father has lived with it for 32 years. However it was still a shock as I was a relatively fit guy who had played rugby in my 20s and 30s.

Looking back I now know I wasn't as fit and healthy as I thought I was and I basically ignored the condition as I didn't think it was particularly serious.

I have always tried to eat a balanced diet but can be prone to a little over indulgence at times and over the next few years I moved from tablets to Novorapid and Levamir insulin injections.

In 2008 a friend suggested taking on the London to Paris rowing challenge, I hadn't done any competitive rowing since my university days, however I was keen to be part of the team and started to build up my fitness. I started to see some immediate effects on my diabetes, I was eating a very low calorie diet and lots of steamed fish and vegetables and as I lost weight I was able to reduce my insulin.

The rowing has led to a renewed interest in cycling and I have taken on a variety of cycling challenges including a 1000 mile ride to Poland to celebrate a wedding and a 700 mile ride to the South of France.

I now visit the gym at least 4 times a week and do spinning classes, rowing and swimming and I can confirm my diabetes is better controlled and I feel much healthier as a result.

I feel regular exercise if possible is very important for a diabetic.

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Derek Bockett - 62 years of life with Type 1

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1951 aged 14. I didn’t tell my school teachers, colleagues or employers that I was diabetic. I wanted to ensure that I was in the football team at school and thought that perhaps I might be penalised by an employer. I learned differently across the years!

The love and support of my family have helped me manage my condition successfully over the past 62 years.

When I was first diagnosed, injecting insulin and monitoring blood sugar levels was a complicated process. I injected using a glass syringe with inch-long needles kept in surgical spirit which had to be washed out carefully with distilled water otherwise it would sting.

Medical developments over the years have made things much easier. In recent years I changed from using a syringe to a pen insulin delivery device. I had always considered that I’d managed my diabetes successfully, but it was only speaking with others with diabetes and sharing information on treatment and management techniques that I became aware of other options. For example, changing to a pen device made my hypo-awareness much better. The number of injections per day has changed from 2 to 4 but this has improved things significantly.

I monitor my blood glucose regularly and have a more varied diet than the early days. I finger prick test before each meal. I also make sure I go for my regular eye and weight checks. I don’t think I’ve allowed diabetes to slow me down. I find talking to others with diabetes a real benefit. I speak regularly at diabetes support groups and share my experiences of life with diabetes with others in the hope that we can learn from each other. I’ve also been taking part in a scheme at my local university where I talk to budding pharmacists either in a group or one-to-one situation, to help their continued learning.

One of best forms of exercise, that I really enjoy, is walking. I’m a walk leader for a council run initiative in my local area. I lead a group of people on short walks. Not only do I benefit from the regular exercise but I’ve made some wonderful friends. We provide support to each other. Just being part of the group improves confidence and sense of wellbeing no end.

There are a good number of people in the group with diabetes so we can share our ups and downs. It’s marvellous. Talking to others about your diabetes is very important – a problem shared is a problem halved – it makes you feel good to know that you can be helpful to someone else; you might learn something new that is helpful to you, and it’s good to know you’re not alone.

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