Sharing Experiences - Fiona's story

Sharing Experiences - Fiona's story

From Terrified to Jubilant – Fiona’s story of dealing with the Type 2 diagnosis.

It was a total surprise to me when, after a routine medication review and a series of blood tests, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June 2015. I had no symptoms and it really felt like the carpet had been pulled out from under my feet. 

When I went to the doctor to get the results and was told my HbA1c levels were high I felt like it was ‘all my own fault’. As a 52 year old mum of two teenagers and wife of a very fit, active man I have always cooked from ‘scratch’ watched all our diets and tried to stay healthy.  I was aware that I was very overweight (in the obese range) but naively thought that I would not have any problems associated with my weight. I have suffered from severe arthritis since I was 19 and consequently exercise has always been an issue, as has weight. I always believed that, due to my limitations, I could not exercise without causing more pain and discomfort. My GP who is amazing assigned me a diabetic specialist nurse. 

After my diagnosis and before I managed to see the nurse I cut everything out of my diet, snippets from all sources of the Internet terrified me into thinking that whatever I ate from that moment would result in limb amputation  or, even worse, death. I booked an appointment and went along terrified that I was destined for the scrap heap.  The nurse carefully went through the diagnosis and explained that my weight was a problem and that if I looked at my diet and lost a bit of weight then it may make a difference.    I explained about what I ate, how I cooked and my activity levels and she was confident that with a few changes to my lifestyle I should be able to control my blood sugars with diet alone. She said that she would monitor me over three months and I went away with plenty of information, but still a little confused and bewildered. 

I put my mind to tweaking my diet, cutting out the cakes and sweets (which was difficult) and exercising a bit. My GP referred me to the local gym for a PULSE course of exercise. The exercise worried me because of my arthritis, but the people at the gym wrote me a programme to follow, which I did, to the letter. I had been very active as a child/teenager and found I enjoyed doing a bit of gentle exercise.  With the PULSE team around to advise when my pain levels started to rise (just do a little bit less and listen to your body) and the other people on the PULSE scheme to spur me on I ended up enjoying exercise. 

I realised I had to manage my portion size. I bought a smaller plate and every meal I had a small meal, I really didn't change what or how I cooked that much as that was not an issue, it was portion size every time.  I started adding a few l lentils to my casseroles and slow cook meals to bulk them out a bit but that was about it. I did have to cut out the cakes, coffees with syrups and puddings, but once I got used to it wasn't too dreadful. I knew that the changes I made had to be ones I could sustain for the rest of my life, this wasn't just a diet for three months then back to the bad habits, this was for ever.  I watched the weight gradually fall off, size 20 clothes hung off me so I bought size 18 which then became too big so down to 16!  I had never been a size 16 and when I hit size 14 I was so pleased with myself.  I now have a totally new wardrobe and still pinch myself when I even look at the size 14s!   I changed the way I lived my life, I would exercise a bit every day, even if I was in pain from the arthritis I did a little bit.  My pain levels are still high but I do so much more, every day I walk somewhere, just a bit but I keep moving and now I'm not carrying so much weight I can do a bit more.     

After three months I had a follow up blood test and went back to see the specialist nurse who weighed me and was really pleased that my weight loss and exercise routine had tackled my high blood sugar readings and they had gone down to normal range. I would not have to take any medication for the moment - Jubilation and celebration!  

I am now managing my weight (in all I have lost 3 1/2 stone) and am continuing to eat a sensible diet. I'm not gaining weight or losing it but staying steady. I am no longer obese, just overweight but I feel better about myself. I have managed to do all this with the support from my family who have been amazing. They have never complained about the lack of puddings and fresh cakes Now when I bake a cake it is a treat and they all appreciate it just that little bit more.

I now enjoy everything I eat, I sometimes have a naughty treat, I share a pudding or have a mouthful of someone's delicious looking cake which keeps the cravings at bay. If I'm peckish I have a small handful of nuts or carrot sticks. I'm definitely not perfect but I'm perfectly happy with how I'm managing things. Now I'm just living life to the full and looking forward to my next adventure!  I’d love to meet with others who have been through the same sort of experience good or bad and be able to find out from them what comes next.  Contact me through exeterdiabetes@gmail.com