I Can .. help people – Andy Broomhead


Having diabetes is scary. You tend not to hear that as often as you might think but it’s true. Getting diagnosed completely turns your life upside down when you find out you have this “thing” that’s going to be with you forever.

Coming to terms with having a chronic illness is a difficult thing to do. Whilst diabetes shouldn’t stop you from doing almost anything (enlisting in the Army is something that is off limits unfortunately) it does mean that you have to change your perspective on some things and perhaps plan in advance more than you might have done previously. Getting your head around all that by yourself is incredibly daunting and something you shouldn’t have to do by yourself.

A lot of us are fortunate to have a great team of healthcare professionals that we can rely on to help us manage our condition. But diabetes is a 24/7 thing and I’d say that on average we have maybe a couple of hours a year at best with our diabetes team leaving us to do the rest.

Engaging with other people with diabetes can provide a great amount of information and the opportunity to discuss things that we may not get chance to or feel comfortable speaking in speaking to our specialist team about.

I use my experience with diabetes to try and help other people manage their conditions and give them the opportunity to speak openly about the things that might be worrying them. Whilst I can’t offer any medical advice, I can give them the benefit of the things I’ve learned over the last 13 years and offer as much support as I can. As well as writing a monthly blog for Diabetes UK, I run a peer support service for people in Sheffield which offers the opportunity to connect online via Twitter/Facebook as well as meeting up socially.

I’m also the chairman of the Sheffield Diabetes UK group and we hold free monthly meetings where people can get to meet others with diabetes and listen to our guest speaker. There is most likely a group local to where you live – you can find your nearest one here.

I also spend a lot of time online engaging with the Diabetic Online Community (or #doc). It’s a great way to meet people and to find out that you’re definitely not the only person facing a particular problem or dilemma which is possibly the most reassuring thing to realise when you have diabetes. Log on to follow Diabetes UK’s regular Hangouts, or the Our Diabetes weekly tweet-chats (follow @OurDiabetes) to find out more.

Diabetes is scary (I said it again) but it’s also a continuous learning process and we should be reassured that we can use our knowledge and experiences to help other people that are starting out on their diabetes journey. I can help people, and so can you.

Find Andy on Twitter as @AndyPeerSupport

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