Janice urges others to take action this Diabetes Prevention Week

Date added: 17 April 2018

Staff Nurse, Janice Young was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago. Like many people she didn’t realise she had it as she felt fine except for feeling a bit tired, but put this down to working different shift patterns on the ward. She would even tell her patients to manage their own health by encouraging them to eat healthily and exercise, but didn’t take her own advice.

It wasn’t until she took advantage of the trust’s free Staff MOT that she would eventually be diagnosed with the lifelong condition that would affect her and her family’s everyday life.

This comes as NHS England has launched the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) a part of Diabetes Prevention Week (16 – 22 April 2018). The campaign aims to raise awareness of the causes of Type 2 diabetes and the complications associated with it.

It’s estimated that over five million people in England are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes which is linked to lifestyle. If left untreated it can lead to stroke, blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

56 year-old Janice, who lives in Deal and works at The Grove in Ramsgate, spotted the offer of the Staff MOT on the trust’s intranet site and thought she would book onto a session. Our free staff MOT sessions help support the physical and mental health of our staff. Coincidently when she turned up it was Michele Streatfield, Lead Nurse, Physical Health who checked her blood glucose levels. Michele was a mentor to Janice whilst she was a student training to be a nurse some 15 years ago.

Her results showed that the level of sugar (glucose) in her blood was higher than normal.  For the majority of healthy individuals, normal blood sugar levels are between 4 to 6 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) when fasting and up to 7.8 mmol/L  two hours after eating. Janice’s blood glucose was reading was at 14.5 mmol/L. She also learned that she had high cholesterol and blood pressure and was advised to make an appointment with her GP and see a Diabetic Nurse.

Janice has a family history of diabetes and knows only too well some of the devastating effects the condition can have. Both of her parents were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when they were in their 60’s and were prescribed tablets to help them manage and control their diabetes. When her father’s diabetes got progressively worse he was prescribed insulin to manage his blood sugar levels, however the condition eventually caused him to lose some of the sight in his eyes impairing his vision.

Her brother-in-law was also diagnosed with the condition, but unfortunately did not take the necessary steps to change his lifestyle, and after years of nerve damage that occurred from years of high blood sugars he had to have some of his toes amputated. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of amputation of lower limbs and problems of the foot are the most frequent reasons for hospitalisation amongst patients who have diabetes. Unfortunately Janice’s brother-in-law continued to experience health problems.

She added: “I’ve witnessed first-hand the effects of diabetes. When my brother-in-law died of a heart attack it had a massive impact on my sister and her family. He left behind a wife and five grown-up children who now all try really hard to look after themselves.”

Janice was advised to manage her own condition with diet, exercise and tablets. Being overweight is known to increase blood pressure and excess weight also increases your chances of developing other problems, including high cholesterol, high blood sugar and heart disease.

The mother of three decided she needed to take action and improve her own health by making changes to her lifestyle. Since being diagnosed Janice has been following a healthy diet by cutting out sugary snack and treats such as cakes and biscuits. She goes for regular walks with her husband which is monitored by her Fitbit. Although her husband doesn’t have diabetes, the former Royal Marine has problems with his knees so exercising together helps keep them motivated. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet and medication has helped her to lower her blood sugar levels, her cholesterol and blood pressure.

Janice will be 57 years-old in May and is planning to retire in the next few years. She can’t speak highly enough of the trust’s Staff MOT for literally changing her life.

She said: “It was the wakeup call I needed so I could change my lifestyle. I want to be able to enjoy my retirement so I can spend it with my grandchildren. There are so many people walking around with diabetes and they don’t know it. I am hoping that my story can help to raise awareness. It can be treated if it is caught earlier and not left undiagnosed for years.”

Medway Maritime Hospital will have a diabetes prevention stand on 17 April in the afternoon to help raise awareness.

For more information on the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), please visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/diabetes/diabetes-prevention/