Mike led a discussion of awareness of diabetes and what we can do to increase awareness within the community. This was with the intention of becoming more knowledgeable and prepared for the HI Wellbeing Week Activity Fair, where the group will have a table top – more later.
Those present were asked to describe how long they had been diagnosed, how they were diagnosed, their reaction, where they sought information and the shortcomings of their knowledge. Very interestingly no two stories were the same, reflecting that we are all individuals, and that the response from healthcare providers has evolved!
The range since diagnosis was from 14 years ago to just a few days. Those recently diagnosed were far more likely to have been discovered by the GP surgery rather than someone else. Some were overweight at diagnosis, while others had never been overweight. Age of diagnosis ranged a lot as well.
Some had found out they had high blood glucose from routine blood tests, or tests for other conditions, while others had visited their GP for something else – tiredness, constant thirst, falling asleep, urinating a lot. Two had visited optometrists due to vision problems that subsequently were found to be connected to diabetes. One had been advised to be checked for diabetes after a visit to a dentist where gum disease was diagnosed. Two had been diagnosed when having private medical examinations.
Blood glucose levels at diagnosis ranged from mid-40’s to 125 mmol/mol (48 is the threshold), 41-47 is pre-diabetic. Currently group members have BG levels in the range of 41-55.
Reaction to being diagnosed
Group members had varied reactions to diagnosis. Some felt it was inevitable as it ran in the family, but for others it was a complete shock with no family history. Some were devastated and angry when they were diagnosed.
Those with recent diagnoses had much better advice than those diagnosed many years ago. Those diagnosed many years ago had typically been put on Metformin and told to lose some weight. Some had no problem with Metformin while others had bad side effects. Some had been on courses or seen dieticians who had proposed they follow balanced low-fat diets. Only those recently diagnosed had been informed of the potential success of following low-carb diets. Two in the group have lost weight by following diets that included fasting.
Shortcomings of knowledge
Even though group members are motivated and wish to control blood glucose levels, no one would admit that they had enough knowledge about diabetes or diets in particular.
Although no one complained of the care they received, there was considerable bad feeling that test results have to be requested for both HbA1c and the other tests carried out at an annual review. It was felt these should be automatically printed out and handed to the patient so that they can monitor their condition better. It was pointed out that the Patient Access app allows access to test results, but this was not widely known and has to be requested and approved. Patients have a right to request printed blood test results and should do so.
Monitoring diabetes (blood tests and what they mean), diets and foods (particularly good fats and low GI), and more knowledge of what drugs there are for treatment and what they do were all requested. 2 books were mentioned; The Blood Sugar Diet, Dr Michael Mosley; The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally, Dr. Jason Fung
It was suggested we have a reading list or intro pack to help those joining the group – a great idea! Firs House have information that they provide, and this would be complementary.