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Talking about type 2 diabetes

After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, BEV OFFER was shocked to find out she had type 2, but took it all in her stride.

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GDM) when I was pregnant with my second child, back in 1991. After I had the baby, I reverted back to being non-diabetic, but that didn’t last too long. It was only four or five years later that I was diagnosed with type 2.

It was a bit of a shock, but I think I just took it in my stride, really. I’m a nurse and I’d had a fairly large baby, which I knew was fairly typical for GDM. And I knew that when you get gestational diabetes, you’re more likely to get type 2 as well. But having to start managing diabetes while dealing with young children was a challenge. We’d also just moved from Canberra to WA, so that was quite a busy time for me.

I was pretty fit and active in those days, playing basketball four times a week, so I didn’t have to change much about my exercise regime. Exercise has really helped me manage diabetes over the years. Back when I started, the changes were mostly about diet, making sure I was eating enough of the right things.

Getting involved with Diabetes WA really helped. Whenever I had questions, I’d speak to a diabetes educator. That helped considerably. I was also lucky because my job meant I had to help people manage their own diabetes, I had to teach them, so I was getting a lot of education at work too.

The biggest change has been in the last couple of years, when I started on insulin. That’s really helped, as it’s got my blood sugar levels under control properly. I feel so much better.

Because I’m a nurse, the transition wasn’t that difficult. I think my GP thought I knew as much about diabetes as he did! He just said, start off with one or two units and see how you go. I just kept checking my blood sugars a couple of times a day to check what was happening as I increased the insulin. It’s well-controlled now.

The only ongoing challenge for me is that I have an issue with my vision that isn’t diabetes related. Just recently, I’ve had a bit of a problem seeing the numbers on the needle. I have to do it in full light and have a magnifying pen on it to see things properly.

Back in the old days, we used to have a magnifying thing that went on the insulin pen. They used to be really useful for a lot of my clients and I wish they were still available. We know a lot of diabetics have vision issues.

Having people to talk to about diabetes has been useful over the years. I have a number of nursing friends and other people that I’ve known for a long time and we still chat about things. Some people do just want to stick their heads in the ground and not know about it.

I’ve been at a couple of education sessions where people are sure they’re going to be cured and it’s not going to come back. It’s always good to hear other people’s experiences because everyone takes in information differently.

We should be talking about diabetes more, especially with our children. My children are in their thirties now, so I am aware that they might be at risk of diabetes. My husband has also been diagnosed with type 2, so the kids have it from both sides.

My eldest son is quite overweight, and I have spoken to him about it considerably. He knows the best thing is to get walking and try to get the weight off. The other two kids are good. I think they are certainly within the controlled weight range. One of them is vegetarian but the other eats a lot of takeaway food. I’ve spoken to them about diabetes a bit, but probably not as much as I should have.

As told to Myke Bartlett. Condensed and edited for clarity.


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