Like a lot of my fellow countrymen, I am a Type 2 diabetic; indeed, I was diagnosed 20 years ago. I take a very pragmatic view of such things and given I am neither overweight or unfit, I don’t feel any personal guilt. As my lovely old mam used to say “there’s always somebody worse off” and that’s not a bad way to think of it. All of this said, it is a progressive, debilitating illness and if it is not managed appropriately, things can go very wrong. Please give diabetes the respect it deserves as a silent killer.
I am one of the lucky ones, in that I have managed to treat the condition through oral medication and do not need to administer injections. However, I also suffer from diabetic neuropathy, which is effectively damage to the nerve endings as a direct consequence of diabetes. For me it means that I have very little feeling from the soles of my feet almost midway to my knees which can impact my gait somewhat (when it happens it could make folk think I had been drinking which is both funny and frustrating); this affliction also causes ever increasing numbness in my fingers. For somebody who was taught to touch type from the age of 16, this is a massive issue and given my love of writing, adds yet more frustration.
Now the good news! About a week ago I was feeling quite sickly, which is unusual for me and it was clearly diabetes related (hypo’s give it away). I’m one of those characters who is always looking for ways to help myself as opposed to sitting back feeling sorry for myself, so I launched into a review of my diet yet again. I realised that one thing had changed dramatically and that was my consumption of “diet drinks”; as most people know, thirst is a major symptom of diabetes and I had been drinking lots of them. The more I read about the impact of such drinks on diabetics, the more it fascinated me. Nobody had ever explained how these drinks react with the pancreas, effectively “fooling it” into thinking it is sugar that is being delivered, nor the consequences of this occurrence. Determined to test and assess the outcomes of a reduction in consumption of diet drinks, I switched exclusively to water and the results are startling. Within one week the neuropathy has almost disappeared from both hands and I can actually feel my feet for the first time in years! I loved the flavour of some of the diet drinks, but I will be cutting them out of my diet completely from now on, and hopefully these improvements will continue.
The real reason for sharing this is twofold. Firstly, in a plea to all my friends, family and the public in general, please familiarise yourselves with the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and if you are in any doubt, get tested ; it literally takes a few minutes. Secondly, if you are a diabetic or are diagnosed, please, please avoid the “diet” drinks; keeping your weight down is one thing, but having a limb amputated is entirely another. The companies producing diet drinks will never openly admit to the damage they can cause to those living with diabetes, so this is a great case of self-help. Take care of yourselves.