November is Diabetes Awareness Month and for anyone who doesn’t know very much about Diabetes you might ask “How can I play my part in helping to raise awareness of Diabetes?”
If we are not prone to Diabetes or not obviously at risk from developing the condition, we rarely have a reason to think about it. Yet people being diagnosed with Diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate and we should all get to know more about the condition and how to recognise the symptoms and some of their causes. A number of the people supported by ubu have to cope with Diabetes in their lives, and managing the condition means they have to think very carefully about what they do every single day.
Emma, a young woman served by ubu, has had Type 2 Diabetes for some years now. When she was first diagnosed it was critical that she monitored every single morsel she ate, tested her blood sugar levels before and after meals and then set the alarm to go off at strategic times during the night so she could have a nibble just to keep herself alive! Tiresome and tiring it certainly was. After a while it became so draining that Emma decided enough was enough! Diabetes was not going to control her, she was going to bring it under control for herself.
Now Emma hardly needs any medication, she just has to have regular check ups with her doctor and to make sure she looks after herself. So, how did Emma make such a dramatic change to her lifestyle and so successfully reduce her medication?
When Emma decided to take more charge of her health, her exciting journey began. She drew up a plan, with the support of her ubu enablers and advice from her doctor, to gradually to reduce her medication while improving her lifestyle and diet. Emma set herself some very clear targets, making sure that her goal posts along the way were achievable and that she could really see how well she was actually doing.
To begin with, Emma collected as much information about food and diet as she could and working alongside ubu enablers, she set herself a realistic meal plan. In the past, Emma had been living mainly on processed foods and she knew they had to go! She decided that wherever possible she would replace them with fresh food. Emma also realised that relying on processed ready-meals wasn’t helping her to achieve the healthier diet she was hoping for, so she decided to buy herself some easy to follow recipe books to give her inspiration and to find something to eat every day that she could enjoy and feel good about.
Once Emma had sorted her diet out so that it helped her to maintain more even blood sugar levels, she took a long hard look in the mirror and realised she had to lose some weight. Emma would be the first to admit that she is a bit of a TV soap addict and that can mean a lot of sitting about, so she decided to make another big change to improve her life-style. Emma chose to spend less time indoors on the sofa, watching TV and instead to get out and enjoy as much exercise as she could.
Instead of taking the bus, Emma walked to her voluntary job at the local charity shop, she registered for the weekly park run and she bought herself a swimming cossie, booking up for some “aqua-cise” lessons at her local swimming pool.
It’s been two years now since Emma first got her diagnosis of Diabetes, but the changes she has decided to make in her life and how she looks after herself now, have been exciting. By working alongside her ubu enabling team, Emma has lost weight, she feels slimmer and much healthier. Now she doesn’t get out of breath after exercising, she completes the park run faster and because she took control of her own health she is now much more confident.
Emma’s Diabetes hasn’t gone away. She knows she doesn’t want to lapse back into her old ways of looking after herself. Emma says that if she does, it would be a step backwards and she would genuinely hate that. But now when she looks in the mirror, Emma sees a stronger and more confident person and she knows that all the effort she makes to be fitter and healthier is worth it.
ubu believes that we all have a role to play in supporting the people we serve to improve their own lives. ubu was and continues to be there to support Emma’s ambitions, helping her to choose to improve her health and lifestyle and share the happiness she feels in her new found confidence at being more in control of her own body.
We can all raise awareness about Diabetes by understanding the condition a little better and by promoting and helping ourselves, and our friends, to make healthier choices in the foods we eat and to get more and better exercise to keep fit and strong.
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