Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation

“They provided me with a lifeline”

Jacqui Dodd, 51 from East Riding of Yorkshire, tells us how Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation (DRWF) helped her when nobody else would

When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002, I decided to manage my condition by diet as I have always favoured a natural approach to health. However, after four years my
blood sugar control became poorer and it became difficult to manage.

My HbA1c (haemoglobin) was getting progressively worse so I went to see the specialist
care nurse for advice. Over the next 12 months I tried various medications, such as Metformin, to no avail. Eventually the nurse suggested I use an insulin pen.
I was disappointed but had got to the point where I felt too ill to put it off.

At the beginning of 2008 I started using the insulin pen once a day. At first all went
well, then the allergic reactions began – my skin looked as if it had been scalded and it itched as if I had hives. To begin with, the flare ups were manageable with antihistamines. But when their effectiveness wore off, frustrated with the reactions to my skin, I stopped using the pen and tried again to manage my diabetes with a careful diet for a few days. I was also referred to a new consultant, who was convinced I had Type 1 diabetes, rather than Type 2. He sent me for blood tests, but while awaiting the results I developed a cough. One evening I was at home when I began to have trouble breathing. My husband, Sam, was out so I called my mum-in-law to come over. She rang an ambulance en route as when she arrived I’d gone into anaphylactic shock. Thankfully, after a short stay in hospital, I made a full recovery.

Back home, my test results came through and proved I was Type 1. My care was transferred to Hull Royal Infirmary where they have an immunology and diabetes centre. I was given an insulin pump, which meant I could release insulin after food or when I felt I needed it. Before long, wearing it became second nature. The pump continuously puts a tiny amount of insulin into the body. You can also adjust the amount and work out what you’ve eaten and alter the dose if necessary. For example, if I reduce my carb intake I can reduce my insulin. I was able to get on top of my condition for a couple of years and was so disappointed when my blood sugar began to rise again and my rash returned with a vengeance.

In 2014 I met the team at DRWF in Hartlepool at one of their Wellness Days, where people living with diabetes can meet health professionals, have questions answered and share their experiences in a family-friendly environment. After describing the complexities of my condition to Dr Sue Jones, I told her that I was at the end of my tether. Because the rash I had was like an infection it caused my blood sugar levels to go up, no matter what I did. I felt like I was in a downward spiral, feeling very low with no idea of how I could get back on track.

Dr Jones suggested I see Professor James Shaw in Newcastle, who works closely with the charity and is renowned in his field of expertise.

I was referred by my GP and have been under his care ever since. He listened carefully and advised subtle tweaks on how to use the pump. He asked me to change my infusion kit every two days – rather than the typical three-day cycle – to ensure the insulin always maintained its working power. Whereas I used to eat and then manage my insulin dose, he suggested I do this 15-20 minutes before meals so I could stabilise things before any food hits my system. In addition, I also increase my insulin levels before going to bed and first thing in morning. Thankfully, as a result of this, my blood sugar levels are much more stable and my skin has cleared.

All of Professor Shaw’s suggestions have worked so well for me. Under his care I feel so much better. I travel 90 miles twice a year to see him but I would walk there if I had to. At the moment I am trying a medication usually given to Type 2 sufferers and, because there’s some function in my pancreas, tablets designed to help my body do some work by itself.

This will hopefully reduce the need for me to take manufactured insulin. I’m so grateful to the team at DRWF for helping me get the treatments I needed. They are always on hand to offer advice. It’s amazing as it is a small charity doing wonderful work to help people manage their diabetes. In July 2016, I wanted to give something back so my husband and I decided to take part in the London 10k, raising over £1,000 for the charity.

My condition has encouraged me to think more about what I eat and to experiment to find ways to make healthy food tasty. It’s amazing what you can do with a cauliflower – couscous, rice, pizza. I do a lot of exercise and I maintain a healthy weight to help support the care I get from Professor Shaw, so despite my condition at 51, I’ve never felt healthier.

TOTAL RAISED: £3,480

THE FACTS

  • DRWF funds vital research into finding a cure for diabetes, while supporting growing numbers of people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the UK.
  • For those newly diagnosed it can be a very difficult time, leading to isolation and anxiety. The Diabetes Wellness Day South offers excellent specialist advice in a relaxed and friendly environment.
  • Research programmes funded by DRWF are designed to support smart young researchers, as well as established institutions, as they strive to make the kind of life-changing breakthrough the diabetes community is hoping for.
  • Healthy eating for people with diabetes can help to maintain blood glucose control and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Visit drwf.org.uk for more.

BIG GIVE UPDATE

Money raised will be used to support the Diabetes Wellness Day South, a unique event that takes place in June for people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, their family, friends and carers, to learn more about good self-management and keep as well as possible.

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