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Interview 09

Age at interview: 20
Age at diagnosis: 10
Brief Outline: Since diagnosis he has been on two injections a day and does not want to change to fast-acting analogue insulin because he does not like the idea of injecting everytime he eats. He tries to have a balanced diet, but acknowledges that at university it is not as good as at home. He says that student life isn't always that healthy because there are more opportunities to eat fast food and drink alcohol. Says that his HbA1c's are generally good.
Background: He is in his third year at university; during holiday times lives with parents and siblings. He considers himself lucky because he found it relatively easy to adjust to life after beening diagnosed with diabetes.

More about me...

 

He says that being given good information in hospital was very important because it helped him...

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Do you remember what they did to you in hospital?

No, well I, I remember you know they tested my blood in the middle of the night, all this kind of stuff, a lot more testing. And I had blood tests done initially probably blood tests. And obviously they did my injections in the hospital for me before I'd learnt how to do it myself. Taught me about the background of diabetes. You know, what's actually not working. Why I'm having to take the injections so I understand it myself because I think that's really important. If people are educated in it they're going to understand what's wrong with them a lot more and how to, how to look after themselves so they don't have to rely on other people. 

I think I, you know just accept that. I'd rather, far rather just get on with it and you know as I said, once I started to understand sort of being educated behind it and knowing why, what wasn't working and why kind of thing. I think it's just far easier then to accept it and just to get on with it. 

Yeah I, you know I think I was educated quite well about it by the the staff at the hospital. And you know it's nice even when I go back now ten years after they all still remember my name, I still know their name and you know you build up quite a good rapport with the people who are looking after you so.

 

Explains how it took a while for him to feel comfortable in the young adult clinic. At first he...

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What was different in terms of sort of from the children's to the transition?

It's a lot quicker at the, [laugh] the young adults. I'm there for less than an hour whereas at the, at the children's I could have been there for a couple of hours because it's a lot busier. I don't know I mean [interrupt] initially I really did not get on with the doctor at the young adults. I mean I, we really did not get on at all. And that's because initially I felt that I was treated more as an adult at the children's clinic than I was at the young adults. I found, I thought you know his approach to me was quite condescending actually if I'm truthful. But we seem to be ok now as soon as we passed that. And I guess maybe that was just to do with settling in or it was different but you know it's fine.

No I don't think so. Obviously they, they will, will now talk about alcohol and things like that which they wouldn't talk to children about. But you know I think that's probably the only, the only thing.

And ok so that is the main difference that you find?

[mmm] And also you have a blood test every time you go to the young adult's whereas at the children's one you only had it once a year [laugh].

You said something during the course of the interview about that you felt that the children's team treated you more like a young adult than initially when you went to the young people's clinic, in which way was that?

Just because I suppose once you get to the young adults clinic that's when they speak more obviously about alcohol and I was at university then so. And I didn't like how things were, how things were put to me because I knew what the risks. I know, you know, lots, risks of alcohol. You know I think most people my age do. And I just think the way, the manner in which it was said was (a) condescending because I knew some of it anyway. And also I suppose maybe they might look at it on the fact that the doctor might have looked on it and, that I'd revert, I might have reverted more back to a child because at university people, people might see sort of the things that students do as being, you know it may be a step back to how they were, you know, a few years before so. Maybe that's why they did it but I think it's just important to you know, to treat people with respect and you know give them the information they need but don't say it in a manner that you know comes across as aggressive or, you know, or very negative.

 

He has well controlled diabetes and only did regular blood glucose tests when changing insulin...

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How often is 'not that often'?

Mostly never.

Tell me about it?

[laugh] I'

When did you start not to test?

I guess a few years ago. Just because I think it [laugh] got to the stage where I'd get like my HbA1C because they were always the same. You know, always good like around seven or below like very, you know, very good. I just, I didn't. You know I stopped then. And my. I know I should do it but, but my comeback to it is as I said, I know. I can feel if my, if I think my blood sugar is high or, or and I know if it's going low. And it does sound weird but, and I don't know if anyone, I've never spoken to another diabetic about that and I don't know whether they think the same but you can feel it with inside you so I just, I use that really rather than actually testing it. And I know it's, it's better for like hospital and doctors if they've had like my own testing but then that's what they use the longer-term blood test for so.

How often do you have that blood test?

Every time I go so. I go to the hospital twice a year for a check-up, every six months when they, when they take blood from my arm and that's what they do there the test from.

But what do you do if you think that your blood sugars are low or high? Do you say 'mmm would be a good idea to test, just in case'?

Yeah, yeah. Or you know if I'm out some where, you know, I can just correct it, correct it myself because obviously if it's low then I'll. If I think I'm starting to go low then I'll, then I can just eat something. 

And what do the doctor or other medical health professionals told you about it?

[Sigh] It yeah. It's hard because obviously they want you to, they want you to test your blood regularly like, you know, twice a day or whatever it is. And I, you know I actually did have, you know, a year ago or something I had, I, you know quite a heated debate with the doctor about it. And he said because he's diabetic as well. And because he's a doctor obviously he pretty, does everything by the book, like he would test his blood twice a day and everything like that and you, you know there's not. If I look at it like directly there's not really any excuse not to do it because it doesn't take a long time to do and to be honest I don't know why I stopped doing it because as I said it takes less than a minute. Doesn't it. It doesn't take long, it doesn't take very long but I guess I just stopped doing it because I didn't feel there was, it was necessary to do. 

And I, and I'm not advocating that so don't worry because I know it's, I know people should do it but I just, I don't really.

 

He says that his family always ate healthily and that the main change was to eat regular meals...

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So was that easy or was it something that took time to adjust to or?

No because you know my parents always fed me well anyway so I knew about a balanced diet. And obviously it's more important when you're diabetic that you eat the carbohydrate. Whereas you know, you could skip, you could skip a meal if you're not diabetic and it, it would be fine. But now I just always make sure I eat, you know I eat regular meals at regular times and.

What do you mean by healthy food? Or healthy diet?

Just a balanced diet you know, just very balanced diet and obviously if you're diabetic you can't eat lots and lots of sugary, you know, sugary stuff but you know I do still, I will still eat some. I haven't stopped completely and I've always been fine so.

Tell me do you eat much you say that your sort of eating pattern has changed since you've been at university. But what about having fruit, vegetables?

I. You know I would say compared to quite a few students that I know that I eat healthier than they do. But I always, I always try to you know have fruit and vegetables you know, a few times a week or something and I mean I think the only thing I've done, started doing differently as well since coming to university I just take a vitamin tablet every day, multivitamin tablet as well. Because obviously I accept that I don't eat anywhere near as much fruit and vegetables as I do when I'm at home, like when my Mum's cooked. It's like that so.

And in which way has your diet become different since you are at, away from home and a student?

Well obviously you're cooking for yourself so you can't always be bothered to cook something, you know, a proper meal so more ready foods, more sort of eating out, sort of I guess fast food or, lots more alcohol [laugh]. Yeah, that kind of thing. 

 

He knows he's been lucky so far not to get ill and doesn't want to start worrying while he's...

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Well, whether, because alcohol lowers your blood sugar level doesn't it anyway so and, and I, and I've just said yes I know that it does and that's why I will always, you know, eat a substantial meal before going out. And I'll always eat on, or after a night out so you know have, I'll always wake up and have breakfast and things. You know I, yeah I just do it because I want to do it and as I said nothing happens so.

And what about the long-term consequences?

Yeah. You know I know, that is, you know, that is a valid point. I obviously don't, I don't know how it will affect me in the future. And I do sometimes think about that but it's not, you know it's not something I want to get bogged down in. I'd rather. You know, I want to have a good time now in the time of your life when, you know, compared to when I'm going to have a job and things. I'm not going to be able to have as much fun as I'm having now so. I guess I just look at it, this is going to sound really corny but, you, you know, if I, if you should have a good time when you can and I can now so that, that's what I want to do.

You have never-

I probably sound really irresponsible [laugh].

You have never had a hypo or?

No not for many, many years. I, when I, you know when I first got diabetes I had sort of a couple but I've never had very many at all. No I've been, you know, been quite lucky.

 

He realises that his mother was very anxious when he was first diagnosed but that now both his...

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How have your parents responded, I mean have, were they anxious or worried or'?

Well I mean I've learned, I've learnt in hindsight that, you know, I think particularly my mum was very, very stressed out by it initially and very worried but they never, they never overtly showed that to me. I never got the impression from them, you know, about their anxiety or anything about it. I think they, they didn't obviously didn't want to show that to me because it would just make me worried. But, but they seem fine with it. I mean I was speaking to one of my aunts last night actually and you know she was just saying that she's just admires that I just get on with it and you know, I don't, I don't complain about it. I don't make it an, an issue. Well I said that's exactly how I want it to be because if I don't make it an issue then it's not going to be an issue for anyone else so. Just try, try and get on with things really.

Were they worried for instance that you were not managing your diabetes?

No. No. Just that they haven't, they haven't. Well I mean particularly the, the last you know, last few years sort of as I would say when I was an adult that you know it's been, it's been well-controlled and I've, because I haven't ever had, you know, many severe hypos or anything like that I think as time goes on, you know, they've got less and less stressed out about it and they're just more relaxed about it because they know that, that I can, you know, control it myself so.

So it was more a kind of question, I mean your mum went with you to the consultation?

Yeah but she. No, no she wouldn't, she wouldn't come in to the, to the room with me she'd just wait.

And so since, how old were you when you started going to see the doctor on your own?

Seventeen when I could drive but I guess a few years before that so, maybe fifteen.

It was something that was discussed between you and your mum or...?

Well I, they, you know it was left up to me and they, they, they would, might start saying, you know, do you want me to come in with you and I would just say no because there wasn't any real need for, for them to, for them to come in the room.

And they, and she was respected that?

Yeah

 

He thinks that his relationship with his sister has improved now that they are older and says...

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I have a sister yes.

Has in any way, it sort of impacted the fact that you have diabetes?

No. I don't think so. I think it's lucky that I've got it and not her because she's really squeamish about you know injections and things, things like that. But no I don't think it has. Just I think as, what I've found anyway with my sister that as you get older anyway your relationship improves with, with your sister or if you, if you have a brother because you get, you both get more mature and you know you've both gone to university. You go through similar things so I'd say you know we've got a lot closer in that respect anyway. But I think that's, you know that's just what happens with everyone. Everyone grows up a bit and doesn't argue all the time.

 

He's been advised not to drink diet drinks when he goes out clubbing.

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On average how many units would you say you drink when you go out?

I don't know what, I don't know what and what an average unit is.

Well I don't know a pint of beer, two pints. Which type of drink do you tend to have?

Normally drink vodka, and or beer.

You don't sort of drink the sugary drinks?

Some, sometimes. I mean it, it depends really what's on offer on, in, you know where, where we are so. But I mean I've been told in the past by a doctor that it's actually. I mean he said that if you're going to go, you know, double vodka coke or something. He's actually said sometimes get the, the proper coke. Don't get diet coke because the alcohol lowers your blood sugar anyway and if you're going to be dancing or anything it's actually, she said it's sometimes good to get sugar to stop you, your blood sugar going too low so I do that as well.

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