As you may have read previously I had a major RTA in November 1996, which resulted in me having many months in hospital followed by many years of operations. It also lost me my NHS job through ill-health retirement. But the years that followed just seemed to give me something else to worry about, and from memory it began in 1997 while I was still in hospital. The DSN (Diabetic Specialist Nurse) came to see me in hospital about two or three months into my accident stay. She informed me that I could be diabetic, but all would be fine if I cut out sugary foods and drinks and stuck to a healthy diet.
I’m not sure if any of you were in the same hospital as me in 1996/97 but the food was (and possibly still is) not desirable.. In fact I lost so much weight the dietician agreed to let me have the children’s menu which included chips, sausages etc. I tried it once or twice and it was always stone cold, and cold chips are like eating plastic – yuck. So that was a short-lived project. Gradually over time my appetite recovered and I began to eat normal and my family brought in meals which were warmed through in the ward microwave.
A little while after the DSN spoke to me, she came again and said I could go back to eating the surgery things as I wasn’t diabetic and there was nothing to worry about. So full sugar squash and biscuits were brought back into my diet.
Time passed and I was home from hospital but still under the care of the district nurse in 1997 (I believe it was October). My wife couldn’t help but notice the trays of drinks she was bringing to me even of a night-time. It seemed like my thirst just couldn’t be quenched. I mentioned this to the district nurse who took a blood sample and sure enough it came that I was type two diabetic – at the age of 37. Which while I realised isn’t young (especially when type one are from birth), I did think it might be too young for type two, after all that affected the over 40’s didn’t it?
I remember the waves of emotions that swept over me when they said I was diabetic. I had previously given up smoking, and I felt like the last ‘thing’ I like was being taken away – what was the purpose of life I began to think. I was going to die early, not see my children grow up, and die a horrid death! I also questioned the district nurse about whether they had got the ‘test results mixed up’ because I couldn’t possibly be diabetic! She tried to calm me down, and said she could rearrange the tests if I like but they would be just the same! So I jumped online and began to search out what diabetes meant. My first port of call was DiabetesUK (Then I believe it was the British Diabetic Association). They were helpful, and so were my healthcare team in giving me information about what to expect and how to manage my diabetes as well as I can.
I’ll never forget reading somewhere that when you have a chronic disease depression is often associated with it, because there is no let up – no break from it. You have the condition 24/7, on every holiday, at every theatre trip, every meal with friends, every sports event! So under that thinking it is easy to see the depression link. And yet the power of the mind can be great, and positive thinking good control of your condition can all leave you with a normal life.
I started by diet, which never worked and was then put on two tablets, and then that was changed to one. Finally I was put on insulin which has yet again changed in type. I was referred back to the hospital (which is where they changed my insulin) and because the appointments are every three to six months it seems to being taking forever to get them back down.
But rest assured if you have just been diagnosed, things doe get easier with time and you’ll soon realise that all those negative thoughts are actually unfounded. That said it is vital to control your diabetes as best you can, to help prevent all those health problems it can cause.