J: When I was told I was diabetic, I couldn’t
believe it and I didn’t really think I was that much overweight. I could get around I
could walk forever. I just thought I was really unlucky. The nurse practitioner told me that
my blood sugar levels were too high and that I’d gone in to the state of being a diabetic
and that I needed to reduce those blood sugar levels back down to an acceptable level.
A: When I found my dad had type 2 diabetes, it was a shock. In the role that I have as
a pharmacist, I see patients at various stages of their disease. So we see them in early
diagnosis, and we see them coming in in a wheelchair after losing their leg, and it’s
a frightening glimpse into the future if the problem isn’t tackled early on – and I
didn’t want that for my dad. I explained to him that the complications
were very serious. I explained to him about the risk of limb amputations, blindness, problems
with erectile dysfunction. What I wanted him to understand was that beating the diabetes
was his responsibility, and not the medication. The medication was there to help him, but
the diabetes would only be reversed through his efforts.
J: My biggest problem I think was I never used to eat during the day. I’d have breakfast
then go all day until mid-afternoon, so I’d eat a packet of biscuits and then when I did
cook tea I’d still be ravenous and I’d eat half a loaf with my tea as well.
A: So we talked about portion control, in that actually a portion of starch shouldn’t
bea ny bigger than your fist, and that’s roughly 25 grams. So I taught my dad how to
recognise 25 grams of starch or sugar by looking at food labels, by getting an understanding
of what it looked and felt like to eat 25 grams of starch. But then also to look at
what else he could put on to his plate in order to feel like he was getting a satisfying
meal. J: The key really is to stay away from the
high sugar and high carb levels. A: I wanted to try and get my dad to do something
a little bit more cardiovascular, to get his heart rate up and get him out of breath.
J: So we started walking in the park, and we started off small – half an hour – and
then gradually I just kept extending it. A: We could get out, outdoors, get the fresh
air. It was really enjoyable. I mean, now I can barely keep up with him.
J: I lost two sizes in jeans, I went from a 36 waist down to a 32 – which cost me
a few bob to replace. I feel great, I feel healthy, fit, and I can actually jog now.
I’ve had two check-ups now at the doctors and my blood sugars have been fine. I’m
on my way to being classed as in remission. At my age, I could easily have turned around
and said “why bother?”. But as Andy pointed out, he said well if you don’t do it for
yourself, do it for your kids. So, support is everything I think.
A: His mind set, his determinedness to beat this has been amazing to watch. I am so proud
of him. J: The advice I would give to other people
is if you are diagnosed, it can be reversed, and providing that you want to do it – you
can do it.