HEALTH: Diabetics are not lazy sloth-like people

A sloth
A sloth

I’m Bill Stewardson, aged 57, residing in Woodhouse Mill.

I have always been fit and healthy, at least until my mid-forties, having been keen on taking part in sport all of my active life.

On May 16 this year I was informed that I am now Type 2 Diabetic, which came as something of a shock. I was very unprepared for such news, and have to admit it caught me out somewhat. Here is where I need to hold my hands up and make an admission.

Diabetes, up until that day I had casually read about it in the newspapers, thus my impression was one of lazy sloth-like people who ate cake all day and spent their entire lives piling on the pounds while watching telly.

This very stark view had been imparted upon me without me even realising it. The tabloid media has a habit of periodically demonising certain sections of the public who may need to call upon the NHS on a regular basis.

We have all seen it, drinkers, smokers, the obese, the aged, these days even cancer patients are considered fair game, why is it that of late the general public are made aware of the cost of certain life preserving drugs?

News reports in glorious HD actually show footage of a cancer patient who is staring into the abyss, and the voice over will tell you the cost of prolonging that person’s life!! Do we really need this?

So, I am instantly aware that everyone will assume that I have spent my life bingeing on chips and cake while swilling down huge amounts of beer. I had assumed that this would not be the case inside my diabetic nurse’s office.

So I attend my first meeting with her and proceed to be lectured about healthy eating and exercise. I have to point out that this nurse is carrying out her instructions to the letter. This is in no way intended to be critical of her, more about where this set of instructions originates from.

As I pointed out at the top of this piece, I have played various sports at amateur level, giving up my time to train thousands of times in atrocious weather, slopping round fields ankle deep in mud. Not only that, forking out for the pleasure, let alone buying the kit, and aching more and more as I grew older into the bargain.

It seems that diabetic nurses have a template to work to, one that is based on the sloth types mentioned earlier. I am not at all sure that this is the right way to go about this. Why not taper individual treatment to individual patients - radical eh?

I stand 6ft 3in tall and weigh 15st 7lb which means that since leaving school in 1976 I have “piled on” 28 pounds. As for exercise, I really do not see the need to say any more.

If I am taken as a case in point, I have to wonder just what percentage of Ds do not fit into the current template? More importantly what can be done to reverse the utterly wrong view of Ds that is held by the bulk of the UK public?

Due to the input of the nurse I spent the first couple of weeks of my new D life living on butter beans and water, totally the wrong thing to do, and a course of action that if continued would have done immense damage to me long term.

Again it is important that I point out that the nurse never told me to do that, more my clumsy (one of the sports I played being RL, enough said) reaction to the advice about not eating Carbohydrates. It does however serve to illustrate the danger of sensationalist writing in newspapers.

Things are getting worse for Ds, due in the main to the ever ridiculous constraints being placed upon our NHS.

The political reasons for that you can keep. It worries me deeply that this generally held public misconception will play a part in Ds being largely ignored and forgotten about as the financial noose tightens. Most people think that there are only Two types of D, there are not. Please take a moment to look up how many types there are, and take a second to consider if it was your close one who had recently been given the news.

News is starting to filter through that GPs are going to start edging away from medication and start to prescribe such things as exercise classes and cookery classes. For quite a lot of Ds this may well be a good idea.

The question needs to be what about those who either cannot or do not need to go down that route? The only silver lining to that (for me) is it may well impact the giant pharmaceutical companies.

The number of Ds in the UK has doubled in the last decade. Are they all sloths?