Living with Diabetes

Living with Diabetes

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First impressions

The diagnosis of diabetes almost always comes as a 'shock'. It is a condition that will be with you for the rest of your life and it is undeniable that you would always need to be conscious of your diagnosis and devote some of your time to making sure your control is going to plan. Diabetes cannot be cured as yet but we have made enormous strides in the control of this condition and with practice you will find that you can develop the necessary skills to 'take charge'. It is a well worn cliche that you should 'control your diabetes rather than let your diabetes control you'.

What is available on the NHS?

If you have diabetes most of your treatment and equipment is available free on the NHS. This includes

  • free prescriptions if you are on tablets or insulin
  • free eye tests
  • Pen injection devices / cartridges / disposable pens
  • needles
  • Urine testing strips
  • lancets and blood glucose test strips
  • plastic disposable syringes
  • bins or devices for disposal of needles
  • newer insulin analogues which are more expensive
  • Treatment for complications of diabetes including erectile dysfunction

What is not available on the NHS?

  • Blood glucose meters
  • Glucose test strips for people on diet alone
  • Pump therapy
  • islet cell transplantation

What's difficult?

You may find the various bits of advice given to you by health professionals very restrictive and the changes you need to make in your lifestyle may be difficult to adjust to. You may be asked to change your diet, take more exercise, lose weight and to take your medication on time. You may also need to check your own blood sugar levels from time to time and if you are started on insulin, learn to give your injections. All this may seem overwhelming at the time, especially when you move from a standpoint of being 'fit and well' to having to spend time and effort on your health care. It helps to know that much of the lifestyle changes recommended for people with diabetes are no more than what is best for all of us, particularly in relation to diet and physical exercise! There are few major limitations with reference to physical activity, driving or occupation and these are discussed in other sections of this website.

What's easy?

The good news is managing diabetes has become a whole lot easier over the past decade. New insulin preparations, new tablets, new ways of testing your blood sugar, new methods of screening for retinopathy and new injection devices all contribute to an overall improvement in our ability to manage diabetes.

Famous athletes also have diabetes!

In case you feel Life has dealt you a cruel hand and that you can no longer do all the things you wanted to ...  a diagnosis of diabetes is not the end of the world. Sir Steve Redgrave went on to win Olympic Gold after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes! If properly controlled there is no reason why you should not be able to lead your life with very few major restrictions.

Sir Ian Redgrave

Wasim Akram

Sir Steve Redgrave

Wasim Askram

Dr Nishan Wijenaike, Consultant Physician
West Suffolk Hospitals Diabetes Service.
October 2002