Peer Support – by Vanessa

Hope everyone is ok and ready for summer (that’s if we have one here!). I am going to the Canaries at the end of the month, which means the majority of my hand luggage will as always, be taken up by insulin, needles, cereal bars, food etc. and I am hoping I can keep to the 5kg limit! Last month I had my exams for my Psychology degree, followed by high blood sugars due to stress, this always seems to happen to me during exam periods, no matter how well I control my diabetes, my readings always seem to be high, especially before an exam. However they are back to normal now and I have learnt a lot more about diabetes and exercise, helping keep my levels stable during and after exercise (most of the time!).

Since receiving the news from my optician that I had Stage 1 Retinopathy, I completely changed my view on diabetes and became stricter with what I ate, along with amounts of insulin I gave myself. My blood levels have improved a lot, and I feel much better within myself. Being in contact with Diabetes UK through Twitter and Facebook has also helped; due to the fact if I have a question about diabetes and/or control, other people with diabetes can successfully reply to me through the use of these social networks.

From the 10th June to the 16th June, it was of course Diabetes week, which had a theme this year of ‘Making a Connection’. With regards to diabetes, this could mean making a connection with other people with diabetes, or making a connection with the condition itself. With relation to making a connection, what is important to me is making a connection with others with the condition, because without this, experiences can’t be shared or compared, which may result in more isolation. For example, growing up I never knew anybody else with diabetes, therefore feeling very lonely with regards to the condition.

My control was not brilliant because I had nothing or nobody to compare to, and because the diabetic nurses or doctors did not have diabetes, I thought to myself ‘How can you tell me what to do when you have no idea what I am going through?’ However, when I went to university, I met many people with the condition, who I ‘Connected’ with as I had so many questions to ask and comparisons to make, I could have talked about it for hours. This then made me realise that control is very important and I started to become a lot stricter towards my diabetes.

The way I think about it is that people with diabetes are a lot stronger than those without, because someone with diabetes has so many things to think about every second of the day, but can still live a normal life, and I believe that having a ‘Connection’ with others helps this. One way to make a connection, is by using the Diabetes UK Peer Support service, whereby volunteers with the condition can speak with you, reassure you and share experiences with you, to help create this ‘Connection’ with regards to diabetes. Hope you all enjoyed Diabetes week!

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My son has type 1 and is only 10, however he had his SATS a few weeks ago and his levels were high all week. I think he is going to be like you. We have also made a connection by becoming involved with the young balancers group locally, which has made a big difference to my son, just knowing there are others. Have a good holiday. x