Monday, 18 November 2013

Making the best of a bad situation

Living with diabetes can at times be very difficult. There may be times when someone who has diabetes, feels that life is very unfair, and that they don't deserve to have the condition. There are so many things that need to be thought about, every day, of every week, of every month of the year. Living with diabetes is almost like having a full time job, except without the added bonuses - there are no pay rises or annual leave with diabetes!

For anyone living with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, it is not uncommon to also suffer from periods of depression and anxiety. Diabetes can feel like it is taking over your life, overwhelmingly so. So many people have periods of depression, which can in essence, make diabetes management even more of a struggle. It is a vicious circle, difficult to escape from.

So what can someone who feels like there is no way out of this deep black hole, do? Feelings of despair when it comes to diabetes management won't disappear overnight. It can takes weeks, months, even years to feel truly happy with yourself and your diabetes. Despite this, there is a lot that can be done to make the journey easier and shorter.

If you are at the point where diabetes has taken over your life, take a minute to think. Think about all the things that you are entitled to, have access to, and can do, because you have diabetes. It sounds almost ridiculous, but there really are ways in which people with diabetes, can make the most of a bad situation.

Regular health check ups. Diabetes UK promotes the 15 basic health checks that anyone with diabetes should receive from their health care team. These checks include blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cholesterol, eyes, feet & legs, kidney function, weight. You are also entitled to support if you are a smoker, or are planning a pregnancy. You should also be offered an education course to help you understand and manage your diabetes. Speak to your health care team about the 15 essential health checks. If there is something you are not getting, you are entitled to the checks and support.

A healthy lifestyle. People with diabetes have to closely monitor their blood glucose levels. This means that in general, they are more likely to be looking at what they are eating and assessing how much exercise they are doing. If this is on the conscience, then it is probable that the person will be making an effort to take care of themselves.

Fashion statements. When all is going wrong, and diabetes isn't playing ball, think about the things that make you who you are. Many people wear medical ID jewellry, to ensure that if they are found unwell, people would know that they had diabetes. There are a lot of different types of medical ID jewellry nowadays. Gone are the days where your only option was wearing a dog tag or gold bangle.

A quick search in Google also brings up hundreds of images of people with medical ID in the form of tattoos. This is yet another way in which people choose to use their diabetes in a positive light. Not only this, but they can also look good whilst doing so!

Free prescriptions. Certainly in the UK, if you have diabetes, you will not have to pay for medical prescriptions. This includes prescriptions for diabetes-related medication, or any other illness. Imagine how much money would be spent every month, if we had to pay for all our insulin and testing strips as a bare minimum!

Free eye tests. It can not be said enough, how important it is to take care of your eyes. Aside from the retinal screening that anyone with diabetes, is entitled to, it is also important to have a regular eye test. Diabetes can eventually lead to a condition called Diabetic Retinopathy. However, regular eye tests can spot the early signs of the condition, meaning you can take action, before it becomes a problem.

Exit passes at theme parks, for children with diabetes. It sounds too good to be true! Places like Thorpe Park and Alton Towers have an 'exit pass' for children with diabetes. This means that they are able to miss the queues for a ride. This is because for a child, going to a theme park is very exciting. Excitement can lead to either a hypo or a hyper. If hyper, then a trip to the loo is normally needed, so they would likely lose their place in the queue. If the child is hypo, they need to treat and wait 15 minutes, which you can't do in a queue. Obviously, this would need to be clarified with the venue, and a letter from a GP may be required. However, it is an incentive to see diabetes in a more positive light.

These are just a few examples of how it is possible to 'make lemonade from lemons'. When someone feels overwhelmed by their diabetes, it can feel like nothing else matters. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, is just one way of trying to make the journey out of that black hole, a bit easier.

Finally, Gladys Knight & the Pips believe in making the best of a bad situation...

Monday, 4 November 2013

Introduction and Welcome

No matter what Type you have, or how long ago you were diagnosed, living with diabetes can be difficult – overwhelmingly so at times.

The support of those people closest to you (both family and friends) is important in helping you through those times when things seem out of control.  However, sometimes it can be difficult to open up about how you feel (or how diabetes is making you feel) because you’re scared that people won’t understand.

If you start to feel like diabetes is taking over your life or that you don’t know how to manage, then we’re here to help.

This blog offers you Peer Support – the chance to talk to someone with first hand experience of living with diabetes without fear of embarrassment or misunderstanding.  You can e-mail in questions you’ve always wanted to ask or write in with a problem you’ve been facing and we’ll post a response here on the blog.  We won’t reveal your name at any point.  We aren't experts, but we do have a wealth of experience in living with and dealing with diabetes so we're equipped to handle any questions you may have.

We hope that this allows you another outlet for you to talk about your diabetes and that by answering your questions or helping with your problems, we can also reach other people who may be feeling the same way.  You can also connect with us on Twitter or Facebook, and in some circumstances, we offer support via telephone.

If you want to talk to us then please contact us using one of the methods below:

E-mail: or
Twitter: @loupeersupport or @andypeersupport

This blog is part of a Peer Support project being run by Diabetes UK.  We can’t provide medical advice but do offer you the opportunity to talk about your problems and ask questions – we’ll offer up our own experiences in return. This is run on a volunteer basis and all volunteers have been through training run by Diabetes UK.