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Balvinder - Interview 10

Age at interview: 69
Age at diagnosis: 34
Brief Outline: Balvinder was diagnosed with diabetes 35 years ago. He was prescribed metformin for many years, and for the last 15 years he has been taking insulin.
Background: Balvinder is a retired electician and is married with three adult children aged 44, 42 and 36. Ethnic background/Nationality: Punjabi Sikh.

More about me...

Balvinder discovered he had diabetes when he was 43 years old. He had had a health check as part of a recruitment procedure at a car manufacturing company, and diabetes was found. He felt very shocked at the time, because he had not noticed any symptoms. Initially, he was prescribed metformin, but for the past 15 years has been taking insulin. Even when Balvinder was taking metformin he felt burning in his feet and other symptoms, all of which have gone since he started taking insulin. 

Balvinder's wife also has diabetes and they follow the same diet. They are careful about what they eat and have changed their mealtimes in order to manage diabetes better. Balvinder and his wife go regularly to the local diabetes support group meetings, where he can talk to visiting podiatrists and other specialists, as well as the other members of the group.

 

Balvinder was thirsty all the time and suspected he had diabetes because his father had the same...

Balvinder was thirsty all the time and suspected he had diabetes because his father had the same...

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I used to get - what do you call it - itching in my legs quite a lot, and I used to sweat. Since I started on insulin after that I'm okay, I'm alright.

So what you are saying at the beginning, what symptoms did you have right at the beginning, how did you get diagnosed with diabetes?

Thirst, I used to drink a lot of water, and like orange juice, like sweet drinks, you know. So every about ten to twenty minutes I would drink water, I'd drink a lot of water. So then I felt that I did have diabetes. My dad had the same thing you know. He used to also drink a lot of water, the same thing happened to him. But he found out much later, you know. I found out about mine sooner.

 

Balvinder explains why he only tests his blood sugar once every two weeks even though he has had...

Balvinder explains why he only tests his blood sugar once every two weeks even though he has had...

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So have you ever had what they call a hypo, hypoglycaemia, when your blood sugar drops a lot? Have you ever had something like that?

Only once has it gone down to 2. That's it. It became 2 just once.

So then what symptoms did you have, how did it feel?

Like shaking. And I got very sweaty. And I couldn't stand up. So then I knew that it's very low. So then, you know milk, I put 2 or 3 spoonfuls of sugar so then I drank that. And after 5 minutes, I was okay. So, if that ever happens to me, I know that my sugar must be low. Sometimes I test it too, when it's low then I do test it, sometimes 3 or 4.

And so how often do you test your sugar normally?

I test it after every 2 weeks.

You don't test everyday?

No. Sometimes, it happens, sometimes, I do it after 3 or 4 days, otherwise every 2 weeks I definitely do it.

And what has your doctor advised you?

The doctor says that, 'Everyday you should test your sugar'. But I don't do that. He does it, he's also given me a book to write in. In the morning, before eating you should test your sugar. Then after food, after two hours, two hours, you have to check again [laughs]. It's too much for me. So I stopped it. I just test it myself sometimes, test myself. So when I test myself, nowadays it's usually 6 or 7. Roughly till about 9. It's never higher than that.

So the doctor asked you to test everyday, why don't you do it everyday?

Huh…Lazy. I am too lazy.

Does it cause discomfort to test yourself, is that why?

No, it's not that it causes discomfort, just like that, you know. What's the discomfort, it's just a machine, it doesn't take any time to test. You stick the needle in, and you just check it. That's it. Easy, it's easy to check you know. So just that, I'm lazy.

No but if you imagine that a doctor might listen to this recording, and the doctor is trying to understand why you don't test your blood, so what would you say to them?

The doctor will say to me, 'Why have you come here for?'. That's what the doctor will say to me. Doctors do say that, if sometime you don't check your blood, 'Why have you come here for?'.

So what would you say?

Huh. What is to say in that case? I'd just say, 'Can't help it'.

So if the doctor did really want you to test your sugar everyday, then what would need to happen that you start doing it?

If he said to me, 'If you don't test your blood everyday, then you don't come here anymore. I'll take your name off the list'. Then I'll have to do it. Then I'll have to do it.

 

When Balvinder's levels are dipping too low he starts to feel 'shaky' and eats a piece of fruit...

When Balvinder's levels are dipping too low he starts to feel 'shaky' and eats a piece of fruit...

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So have you ever had, what they call a hypo - hypoglycaemia - when your blood sugar drops a lot?

Only once has it gone down to 2. That's it. It became 2 just once.

So then what symptoms did you have, how did it feel?

Like shaking, and I got very sweaty, and I couldn't stand up. So then I knew that it's very low. So then, you know milk, I put 2 or 3 spoonfuls of sugar so then I, drank that. And after 5 minutes, I was okay. So, if that ever happens to me, I know that my sugar must be low. Sometimes I test it too, when it's low then I do test it, sometimes 3 or 4.

And like for a hypo, I mean when the sugar goes very low, do you do anything to avoid that?

Yes for that, I have that, what do you call it? Glucose sweet. I've got that and sometimes if it's low, I'll have that, or I'll have a banana. I'll take that. I'll definitely have that, a small banana I'll eat that. So with that it it'll become fine. Or sometimes it could just be some juice, only, sweetness. I keep that sometimes, like in the car, in traffic sometimes, so juice, apples, banana, I keep those. I've never had a problem, but if sometimes I do have it, then I'll have orange juice or you know the sweet tablets, special glucose ones, those.

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