“Diabetes doesn’t hold me back”
Jinty Moffett, 65, from Kingussie, tells how the research funded by Diabetes UK has enabled her to live life to the full
Thirty-six years ago, Jinty Moffett was 29 and pregnant with her second child when she discovered she had gestational diabetes. “I don’t recall having any symptoms, and I had always been in good health, so I was surprised when the routine test came back as positive.”
Within hours of giving birth, Jinty’s blood sugar levels returned to normal. However, two years later, while she was pregnant with her third child, tests revealed the gestational diabetes had returned. “I was more aware of carbohydrate intake this time so made an effort to cut out sugar, which helped. Although my blood sugar levels returned to normal again almost immediately after the pregnancy, I was told that I was at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.”
Three years later, at the age of 34, she visited her GP with her three boys, who were unwell. “I asked if he’d also check my health, as I’d lost a lot of weight and felt exhausted. Because my children were very young, I wasn’t sure if this was normal.”
The GP did a dipstick test, which revealed there was something wrong. “He said I had Type 1 diabetes. This is a lifelong condition not caused by diet or lifestyle, where your blood glucose level is too high because your body can’t make insulin.”
Jinty was referred to hospital, where she remained as an inpatient for three days. “The doctor asked what I normally ate, then decided on an initial dosage of insulin, adjusted after meals to give me proper blood sugar readings.”
She was taught how to give herself insulin injections, then discharged from hospital. “Initially it was a bit of an adjustment. I had to eat at set times, because I had a fixed dosage of insulin, and would weigh everything I ate. I also had to have my insulin dosage reduced as I realised I had been eating more than I normally would as I was so hungry before. My driving licence was also temporarily removed – standard procedure until you have a doctor’s letter saying you’re fit to drive – so that was a challenge.” A week after her diagnosis, Jinty returned to hospital. “I didn’t know a lot about Type 1 diabetes, and the internet wasn’t an option then, so I sat with the nurse and was given a lot of information.
I was also told about Diabetes UK and signed up to become a member. It was great to receive expert information, news and advice in the charity’s Balance magazine.”
Jinty also learnt about the DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) course, which received funding from Diabetes UK in its trial stages and which teaches people with Type 1 diabetes skills for estimating the carbohydrates in each meal and adjusting insulin dosages accordingly. “The course helped me to fit the management of diabetes
very easily into my lifestyle and has meant that I can eat quite normally and even miss a meal or have a meal with no carbohydrates if I need to.”
In 2004, Jinty and her husband climbed Kilimanjaro alongside 20 other people on a Diabetes UK fundraising expedition. “There was a huge amount of knowledge within the group, which was really helpful, and it was also really good to be able to support the charity’s research.
“I have since taken part in other events for the charity, and am now a lay member of its Grants Advisory Panel and its CSG 1 – a clinical-study group that brings together researchers, healthcare professionals and people with diabetes with the aim of creating a road map for new research and improving understanding around its causes.”
Diabetes UK will use the money it has raised in The Candis Big Give to fund more research into improving care, finding a cure and preventing Type 1 diabetes. “This research is so important. I’ve seen huge changes in the management of diabetes since my diagnosis. I now have a flash glucose monitor, a sensor you wear on your skin to record your sugar levels throughout the day to monitor blood sugar levels and which, thanks to a major campaign victory led by Diabetes UK, can now be made available on the NHS without finger pricks. I have also switched from using a syringe to an insulin pen, which was developed through funding by Diabetes UK and has made injecting easier.
“Although I have diabetes, I am very healthy and active have had no complications and live a full life, which is largely down to the knowledge generated through research.”
Jinty would like to see more lives transformed through research. “If we can reduce the complications associated with Type 1 diabetes – or help to prevent it from developing – this will drastically change lives and also reduce costs for the health service. I would also
like to see more research into ageing as I worry about what will happen if I get arthritis in my fingers – or dementia, which may affect my ability to give myself injections or monitor my doses. “I am hopeful the continued research of Diabetes UK will help drive change for us all.”
4.7 million people are living with diabetes in the UK. Around 8% of these have Type 1 diabetes
Diabetes costs the NHS £1million an hour, yet for every pound spent on care only 0.5p is invested in research
Diabetes UK is the UK’s leading charitable funder of diabetes research, dedicated to bringing about life-changing breakthroughs in treatment and bringing us closer to a cure
Type 1 Diabetes Research
TOTAL RAISED: £13,481
➸ The money raised in The Candis Big Give will help to fund research throughout 2019 into improving care, finding a cure and preventing Type 1 diabetes, a serious lifelong condition caused by the body’s inability to make insulin. Type 1 diabetes can be difficult to manage and can cause devastating complications, including heart attacks, strokes, eye problems and kidney failure, and has no cure. The charity hopes to change this reality with its research. Visit diabetes.org.uk to find out more.
As told to Hannah McLoughlin
Photos by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert