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Diabetes is such a common place, serious condition but only a small percentage of the UK public know how life-changing it can be.
My other half, Dave, has been diabetic since he was 18 months old. Growing up with diabetes was a challenge to say the least - it was not as well catered for as it is now; technology was a long way off what we have today.
During his childhood, his Mum managed his diabetes and he did not take ownership of it himself until his teenage years . He didn't manage it as carefully as he should have and today, at the young age of 31, he has many other health complications.
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of sight loss among people of working age. It occurs when diabetes affects small blood vessels, damaging the retinas in the eyes. This is known as diabetic maculopathy and this means Dave has to have injections in his eyes every 6-8 weeks. This doesn't make his eyesight any better but helps to maintain the vision he has left.
As his immune system is weakened, he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis in every joint imaginable. Further complications have arisen in this past 14 months and he has been signed off work ever since. One theory is gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, which is a disorder of the digestive tract that causes food to remain in the stomach for a period of time that is longer than average. This occurs because the nerves that move food through the digestive tract are damaged, so muscles don’t work properly. As a result, food sits in the stomach undigested and causes vomiting amongst other symptoms. The most common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. It can develop and progress over time, especially in those with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. He is also being referred to a diabetic neurologist for chronic headaches on top of everything else.
Dave's parents, auntie, brother and sister, nan, all 3 uncle's, and his 10 year old daughter all have diabetes. She was diagnosed when she was 7 but Dave had always tried to make her aware before that. He used to let her do his insulin jabs so she wouldn't be scared of needles. She is fantastic when it comes to managing her own diabetes and loves to teach people about it. She's not shy about doing her jabs in public and encourages people to watch and learn.
We can't go anywhere without having to pack provisions in case of a hypo. We have to take spare needles and test strips everywhere and ensure we always take the finger pricker and insulin pen with us too. We have to weigh everything and work out the carbs to make sure they take the right amount of insulin for every meal, snack and sugary drink. You don't realise how much it rules your life until you live with it or live with someone who is suffering from it.
Funding for Diabetes UK is so important. The difference from when Dave was a child to now is astounding. The technology available for his daughter is light-years ahead of anything Dave had growing up. The Dario app is brilliant, this allows the test strips to be plugged into a mobile phone via the headphone jack which then logs all the blood tests. This keeps a track of the blood sugar levels and helps monitor how often hypos and hypers are being had. It even has a text function to notify me if Dave is having a hypo.
Myself and the rest of the Colchester branch for Saffron Building Society are trying to raise money and awareness to help Diabetes UK with it's funding. £10 could provide vital information for people affected by diabetes. £50 could pay for a kit to use in research, analysing changes in immune cells. £100 could provide half an hour with the Helpline, a caring, listening ear.
We will be cycling in branch on the 7th of September to see how many miles we can achieve in 5-6 hours. All 5 of us will be taking turns and we'd appreciate your donations and support.
41 miles would get us to Saffron Walden
71 miles would get us to London
110 miles would get us to Brighton
210 miles would get us to Glastonbury
310 miles would get us to Plymouth
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity. You can come in to the branch to donate if you'd rather as we'll have donation tins available.
Please be nice to people with diabetes... they deal with pricks everyday!
Thanks for reading :)
Sarah, Dionne, Sophie, Samantha and Lisa -x-