Changing my lifestyle brought Charlie and I closer together – Ken South

To celebrate Father’s Day, Ken South, who was diagnosed two years ago with Type 2 diabetes, tells how he’s changed his life for son Charlie.

I was originally diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at a routine NHS health check just before my 50th birthday.

I was prescribed 6 tablets a day, and I didn’t feel bothered at all. But little did I know the profound effect it would have on my son Charlie.

The previous November, Charlie’s grandfather lost his battle with cancer and sadly passed away. Charlie found this upsetting and Christmas was not the same as it was the first one Grandad hadn’t sat at the table for his lunch with us.

When my wife Claire and I explained to Charlie that I was ill but I would be OK, Charlie seemed to handle it well. But when I came down the following morning and picked up my first batch of tablets that were to be my future, Charlie burst into tears and ran to Claire burying his head in her lap sobbing and screaming that I was going to die just like Grandad.

Try as we could Charlie would not stop crying and became hysterical. Shaking and crying and holding on to mum for dear life.

Never before had I felt so ashamed or worthless. My laziness and poor eating habits had caused this. It was no one’s fault other than my own. I was the sole reason and the only source of blame for what the most important person in my world was now experiencing.

I took Charlie to school and saw both the Head Mistress and his class teacher and explained what had happened and that they needed to be aware of how upset Charlie was.

As I slowly dragged myself up the  hill to my car panting, I knew that this situation was both unacceptable and totally unjust as far as my son was concerned. He had done nothing wrong other than accept his dad scoffed loads and sat around.

I contacted the surgery and made an appointment for a time that Charlie could attend with Claire and I. The nurse ‘Super Sandra’ as she became known, explained to us all that dad needed to lose as much weight as possible to reduce the number of tablets he was on.

Since then, you would not believe the changes that have taken place here at home. We regularly go out after school – cycling, playing badminton or walking – and we all get to spend time together. Now I look at food as fuel and eat things I’d never have dreamed of before. I’ve lost weight, and I’ve been off the tablets for nearly a year.

Charlie and I are closer than ever. We’ve always had a good relationship, but now we get to have more fun. This May half term we spent the week in Cornwall camping and trailing. We’re doing new things together – things I wouldn’t have thought of before – living a more active life allows us to discover more things together.

What is Type 2 diabetes?


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