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As a youngster I was fit, healthy and active, regularly playing sport. Coming from an Afro Caribbean background my diet was varied and well balanced, and I considered myself – and still do – to be fit and healthy.
In my late 40s I was shocked to learn, following a routine blood test, that I was at high risk and on the cusp of developing Type 2 diabetes.
I couldn’t believe it when the doctor told me. A couple of my family members have it and it’s a really serious condition. If you don’t look after yourself, there can be serious consequences.
I didn’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life and was determined to keep the disease at bay. When I was told of the potential dangers, it was a no brainer for me. I changed my diet, cutting out a lot of carbs and sugar and made simple but effective changes to my daily routine, so I was getting more exercise. I felt great and knew it was doing me some good.
With some straightforward and uncomplicated changes I managed to keep the disease at bay for two and a half years. But just after my 50th birthday I knew I had let my lifestyle slip and I was diagnosed with having developed it.
I was gutted. I knew my healthy diet and exercise habits weren’t as good as they had been but I didn’t think they’d tip me over the edge.
However I’d managed to stave off the disease which I thought was really good. Knowing that I’ve done it before, I am determined to do it again.
But I want other people to do the same. And there is a brilliant new scheme called the Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) which is currently in a pilot scheme stage and is looking to help 10,000 people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes from developing it. Then it will be rolled out nationally. I want anyone offered the chance to grasp it with both hands and be part of it. It combines education and exercise specifically tailored for people at risk of the condition and is being offered locally in different ways in seven areas of the country.
I work for the NHS and feel really keenly that more people need to know that T2 diabetes is out there and looming for everyone if you don’t look after yourself – but if you do find yourself at high risk you can do something about it.
I need to look after myself, I’m getting older and I want to make sure that I’m fit and healthy for my old age. I now do aqua aerobics, I’ve started eating healthily, lots of veg and fish and I’ve reduced the amount of carbs and sugar I have. I still allow myself the odd treat though.
I firmly believe that you have to look after your own health and wellbeing. I don’t want to suffer ill health because I didn’t follow simple advice. My aim is to get off the medication and go back to managing my condition, like I did before.
It’s a lifestyle change and I don’t want to have to endure any complications because I’ve not looked after myself. Why get to that stage? I’m taking action to beat the disease.
I wish the NDPP had been around two and a half years ago, when I was in the high risk category because I would have grasped it with both hands.