Darren - Interview 35
More about me...
Darren found out he had diabetes 6 years ago. Back then he was a nurse and knew that his extreme fatigue probably meant he was diabetic. After trying to control diabetes with diet and exercise which didn't work, Darren was prescribed metformin and gliclazide. At the time of the interview he had just started taking insulin.
For the first few years following diagnosis, Darren says he was in denial about having diabetes. He wanted to resist being 'defined' by diabetes, and he disliked the thought of having to change his lifestyle. He deliberately avoided seeing his GP and the diabetic clinic for several years.
Though his diabetes is now more under control he is still fed up with it. He hates not being able to enjoy food anymore and having to subdue a natural impulse to enjoy food, sweet things especially. As a student with a young family he is trying to cope on a tight budget and says that buying enough fresh food for them all costs more than is generally recognised. He goes for walks on Dartmoor with a friend but says that apart from walking, he cannot afford to pay to join a gym or go swimming regularly.
He realised he needed to manage his diabetes better for the sake of his family - and their happiness is a major incentive for him. Sometimes he feels low but can usually think things through and end up feeling more positive - he says he's lucky to have such a great family, so many good friends and a satisfying job.
Darren wonders why there seems to be little support for people who find controlling their eating habits difficult - he feels that if smokers and alcoholics can get emergency help so should people with diabetes who struggle with their eating.
Darren's wife worried when he was in denial about his diabetes.
I've got another friend who, who takes me on walks and makes me sweat, and considering he runs up tors on Dartmoor, he makes me sweat [laughs]. And so he's got, he's on the case and my wife's much happier now I'm injecting. And you know and tries really hard to make food interesting and things and I, not that she does all the cooking, though she does do quite a bit at the moment because I'm very busy, but I used to do a lot of cooking. But makes me sound like awful bloke who comes in and demands food upon the table, wife. I'd never get away with that. But so yes, so'
So she's had quite a worrying time?
Yes, I mean she was hoping for a good innings of married life really you know, well you know 'traditional couple'. We're hoping, you know, hoping to get married and get together, make a home, have a family and sort of stay married until, for a good long time and grow old together. So she was sort of, you know, feeling I was sort of opting out of the last bit really and so she's a lot happier now I'm, obviously very concerned still about what's going on in my world and' She came to the last GPs appointment actually - that was very interesting for her. So, she enjoyed me being told off by a GP instead of her for once. So that was good fun for her [laughs].
Darren finds controlling his diet and his weight extremely difficult and says that diabetics need...
No, that's not true, I have some great things in my life. I have a fantastic wife, I have brilliant children and I have the job I've always wanted to do. I have it all in some ways, but' There's that little thing that you want and you enjoy doing and that no one else knows about, and you know for some people it's the crafty cigarette, for some people it's a drink at lunchtime. For some there is something and I, and I really wish [laughs] I really wish it wasn't true. I really wish I was a better, holier person and I suppose I should with my job title, but the reality is that they were taking away my vice. They were taking away, they were taking away my little thing, my [laughs] what you know, [laughs] you know, it's not very sinful is it, a bag of sweets? But that's what, that's what, that's what diabetes has done for me is taken away my weird enjoyment.
Now he is insulin-dependent Darren has to carry his medication around with him and feels he is...
So there's this whole thing of you know, you bring your support equipment out with you and so now I've got this rucksack with extra pockets in it that we bought, that has everything in it, and I mean I always carry a bag with me because I have so many things to carry around with me for the job, but, I don't know... I think there is a symbolism of being read, [laughs] upon reflection. So yeah I feel like that's me now, it's on my driving licence, I'm going to have to wear it on my wrist. I'm going to, you know, I'm going to have to declare it wherever I go and whatever I do. And almost when you weren't insulin-dependent it was less of a thing but now, because you are, there is an issue.
Darren gets down at always needing to follow a diet and take medication. He works hard at making...
And' You go out and you're' You know, it's still stuff like at college, we all eat together on a Wednesday night and I get a special dessert come down for me of fruit - it's always fruit, they've got no imagination other than fruit - [laughs] so you know everybody asks for sort of either apple pie and custard and there's my fruit [laughs]. And so, it's just stuff like that, that when I think about it I get a bit annoyed about the whole thing and a bit cheesed-off with my genetics. And a bit cheesed off with of everything really.
And' But I suppose because I've been to that really bad place, I'm really' Very good at getting my act together when I get a bit down. I do work hard at making sure that I don't go there, and don't dwell in that place. I work very hard mentally and spiritually on bringing myself back out of that place as quickly as I possibly can. But I can imagine that for other people, dwelling in that place would be quite soul destroying. It just chips, it doesn't take the joy of life away, it just chips a little bit off the edge. And [laughs] now and again, it cheeses me off.