Inside the Insider Day with Diabetes UK members – by Emma Hetherington, Head of Content & News
For me the best bit about attending the Insider Day in Liverpool in March was meeting some incredibly inspiring Diabetes UK members. They had all come along to the conference centre near the famous Albert Docks, on an extremely blustery Saturday morning to meet some of the leading lights in diabetes research and care and to get an exclusive taster of the key presentations from the healthcare professional’s Diabetes UK conference that had taken place over the previous three days.
Meet member Phil and his wife Kathryn
Phil has Type 1 diabetes and is already a great advocate for Diabetes UK as one of our Diabetes Voices. Telling his dramatic story of a difficult time in hospital, where his condition wasn’t properly managed, has helped us campaign for changes to care in hospitals.
On a personal note, what was really lovely for me was discovering more about Phil and his wife Kathryn. They had both been single at the time of last year’s Insider Day. But almost from the minute they met – in the summer of 2018 – they fell in love. And they married a few months later, just before Christmas. Kathryn admits it’s been a steep learning curve for her when it comes to understanding Type 1 diabetes and how she can best support Phil. But it’s clear the two of them are incredibly happy at having found each other.
Meet member Tommy
I knew I’d seen Tommy somewhere before when I said hello to him at the Insider Day. But where? Very quickly he solved the puzzle, explaining that he is one of the ‘mentors’ in the Learning Zone on our website. And that is where I’ve seen him – and heard him – offering tips and advice!
Tommy has Type 2 diabetes and works hard to ensure he’s as healthy as possible – gets all his health checks and stays fit – to reduce the risk of his condition causing complications in the future. You can follow him for yourself (if you have Type 2) in lots of the modules in our free, interactive Learning Zone experience. You have to sign up and give a few details so we can tailor the advice for you and your condition. But once you’re in there, you’ll discover more inspiration from a wide range of mentors and experts.
Meet member Ramona
Ramona hails from Los Angeles originally. She now lives in Chorley in Lancashire. “How on earth did you find your way there” I asked? “Love.” she replied. She married the man who started out as her British pen-pal and then joined him in Lancashire.
Ramona’s diabetes story is both fascinating and frustrating. She was diagnosed with Type 2 back in 2009. At the time she did lots to transform her health, including losing over 7 stone and starting running. She also got involved with supporting Diabetes UK as a media spokesperson and fund-raiser. But in spite of all this, she struggled to get her blood glucose levels under control and her Hba1c levels kept getting worse. After a session at last year’s Insider Day on misdiagnosis, she got chatting to Professor Roy Taylor (from DiRECT) and asked him if he thought she had been misdiagnosed. He agreed and suggested she get it checked out. Now she has been confirmed as having Type 1 diabetes. And with the correct treatment regime in place, Ramona says her life has improved dramatically.
She joined the Swim22 fundraising challenge for Diabetes UK last year – and if you’re an avid reader of Balance you may have seen her quoted in the winter edition of the magazine (the one with our boxer Muhammad Ali on the cover). She’s dipped her toe in the water once again and is completing the swim this year too. Go Ramona!
Meet member Lis
If you’ve been a member of Diabetes UK for a while you might recognise Lis. She featured on the front cover of Balance in the summer of 2017. She’s a volunteer for the charity and true to form was helping out at this year’s Insider Day in Liverpool.
She was diagnosed with Type 1 back in 1965 at the age of 13. And was soon struggling with an eating disorder: “I even had seizures from low blood sugar when I routinely ate insufficient carbohydrate to lose weight.” In an article on our website she explains: “I didn’t speak to anyone about how diabetes had affected me psychologically for forty years. I could easily have died from regularly bingeing and dieting and I feel very lucky to be alive, and remain well, because I finally got support.” Lis has used her experiences to make a difference to others through her support for Diabetes UK and other diabetes organisations. She also offers tips and support to her 2,600 followers on Twitter (@LisWarren).
Diabetes UK Insider Days
The very first Diabetes UK Insider Day took place only last year, in 2018. It was a trial to see if there was any interest from people living with diabetes – or their friends and families – in getting an insider’s view of the latest updates from the experts. Although quite small, it proved so successful that a second Insider Day was organised for this year. And this time the number of attendees had grown. Many were members, like you, who were able to take advantage of the discounted membership rate for tickets – to join other people for the day and hear from the experts.
As a member of Diabetes UK we are always pleased to hear from you and meet you at events like this. If you want to get in touch anytime contact us. And if you’re signed up to our monthly membership emails sent by Pauline, our senior membership manager, we’ll make sure you know about next year’s Insider Day in plenty of time to book tickets if you want them.