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Diabetes

Diabetes anniversaries in 2021

This year sees a doulble anniversay, one personal and one global. Read on to find out more.

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Diabetes

Diabetes - Why Bother To Control It?

Because, quite simply, if you ignore it then you face developing some serious health issues which could become life-threatening.

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Diabetes

Diabetes - Why Bother To Control It?

One of the reasons I have tried to remain in control of my diabetes is because, right from the start, I saw what might happen if you don't, and I did not want to go in that direction.

I was diagnosed a few weeks after my fifteenth birthday.  I had a cousin who was a year older than me and he had been diagnosed even earlier - aged nine - and he never paid any attention to the advice given to him by healthcare specialists.  It is easy to understand why a chld of nine might rebel - "Why me?" - but it is a real problem if they are still doing it fifteen or twenty years later.  He would totally ignore any guidelines about diet - someone with diabetes putting three spoonfuls of sugar into a cup of tea is not a good idea.  At regular intervals, he would just decide to stop doing his insulin injections.  I lost count of how many times he was admitted to hospital by ambulance, in what at that time was called a "diabetic coma".

Eventually this took it's toll.  Whilst in his twenties he suffered two of the most common problems which can occur - with his eyesight and his legs.  Before he was thirty he had had one leg amputated near the knee and had had laser surgery on both eyes.  The problems with both eyes and legs continued into his thirties and he also developed both heart and kidney problems.  He died in his early forties, a few days after refusing the option to have his other leg amputated.

Someone I did not know personally, but know her story well, was a girl who was diagnosed with type 1 when aged eighteen.  She totally refused to accept the situation.  At one point she said "I don't do needles."  She died from complications due to diabetes when aged twenty.  Just two years from diagnosis until the day she died.

But enough of the gloom!

In the previous blog I talked about having a long and active life with diabetes.  With modern treatment and testing, it is possible to still enjoy the odd naughty treat - it simply needs to be balanced against your insulin.  And it is still possible to do most things - I would never have got a pilot's licence, but I still drive an SUV and I tow a caravan.  My 25th anniversary of living with diabetes saw me walk from Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire to St Bees Head in Cumbria - Wainwright's famous Coast-To-Coast Walk - 200 miles in two weeks.  I've climbed some big mountains across Europe.  I've skied in Norway.  If you want an example of how the sky really is the limit, look at Henry Slade, a regular in the England Rugby Union team - he too has type 1 diabetes.

People develop the complications if they ignore their diabetes.  Do not make that mistake.

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Diabetes

Diabetes anniversaries in 2021

2021 sees a double anniversary, one personal to me and the other of global significance.

In March I reach the milestone of having lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 50 years. 2021 is also the centenary of the first successful use of insulin to treat diabetes, although this was in dogs, and it was not successfully used with humans until January 1922. In-between these two anniversaries, there is also national Diabetes Awareness Week, which is always in June and this year runs from the 8th to the 15th.

Although I do not claim to be a saint, I have always tried to draw a sensible line in managing my diabetes. As a result, I have avoided the major complications which can result from diabetes and still lead a very full and active life. Sadly, many people do suffer serious complications, despite having it had it for far less time in many cases.

Over the course of this year, I want to document some of my experiences and also some of the experiences of others I have met. My aim is to try and help other people better manage their diabetes, and to help them avoid the complications which can seriously impact on their lives and can become life-threatening.

At the moment, there are more than 4 million people in the UK who have some form of diabetes – so it is highly likely that you know at least one person who has some form of diabetes. Probably about half a million are not yet aware that they have it. Over the past twenty years the number of people with diabetes has increased significantly, mostly in terms of the number of people who have type 2 – obesity is a common cause of type 2. Moreover, the age at which it is being diagnosed is getting ever lower. It is estimated that about 25,000 people die prematurely each year because of diabetes.

Diabetes UK invests around £30 Million each year in research, towards two goals: to reduce the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and ultimately to find a cure for diabetes. If this sounds a lot, bear in mind that the NHS spends more than this in treating diabetes-related problems every day of the year – each year this amounts to about £14 Billion. On top of this, workdays lost due to diabetes-related problems cost the UK economy a further £15 Billion each year Of the NHS amount, about 60% is spent treating avoidable, type-2-related problems.

Advances made from research will improve the health of people suffering these problems, will reduce the pressure on NHS budgets, and ultimately will reduce the financial burden on every tax-payer in the country. So, if you are able, please consider making a donation to help this cause. You can find out much more by clicking on https://www.diabetes.org.uk/and can also donate via the website.

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