Mike - Interview 16

Age at interview: 64
Age at diagnosis: 59
Brief Outline: Diagnosed in 2002. Mike controls his diabetes with diet alone.
Background: Mike is a finance officer and is married with two adult children aged 35 and 33. Ethnic background/Nationality: White British.

More about me...

Mike had gone to see the doctor and happened to ask about having a health check. So he felt shocked when diabetes was diagnosed. Mike had noticed no symptoms of diabetes, but looking back, he is glad the diagnosis was made early on.

Mike likes to eat, drink and go out with friends. He is still able to have a busy and active social life, but now is aware of what he is eating and how that affects his diabetes. So he occasionally indulges himself with food and drink but knows that he then  needs a few days of 'frugal living'. He manages his diabetes by diet alone, and apart from a slight loss of sensation in his toes, he has experienced no other diabetic complications.

Mike felt he was a bit overweight and that the diagnosis of diabetes forced him to consider how he looked after himself. He also became more conscious of how much exercise he did, and started walking a lot more instead of taking the car. Mike is an active and regular visitor to the local diabetes support group meetings. He feels that there is a lot to learn there and he likes to chat with other friends with diabetes about his experiences.


Although his father was diabetic Mike didn't understand much about it. Initially he felt very...

I was very concerned, deeply concerned. I didn't know a lot about it. I remember my father having it and he used to have injections. I remember him having hypos, passing out, and my mother sort of catching him and pushing him into a chair and I thought, you know' So I was very concerned that I had been diagnosed. And didn't know a lot about it or what the long term effects would be, so that was why I spent a lot of time, sort of finding out, reading, to put myself in the picture. So for the first two or three months I was probably very worried thought about it a hell of a lot and perhaps felt a bit sorry for myself, but then, you look at the sort of people who have got far worse things and but then I thought, 'Alright, what do I do?' I thought, 'I would find out as much as I could about it, and do whatever I can to help the situation'.


Mike thinks diabetes is caused by hereditary factors as well as lifestyle.

I understand it is partly hereditary and partly your lifestyle. Being broad around the waist is not good. A lot more Asian people suffer from diabetes I understand so because I have always been broader round the waist and because my father had it and my grandfather, I've just assumed that it was partly due to the lifestyle that I have led and partly due to you know hereditary problems. That is why I have ended up with it.

My brother is three and a half years younger than me. I keep pulling his leg, I say, 'Have you had a check recently, because it's your turn next? Beware. Beware.' So you know, it hasn't bothered me, I've just assumed that's the reason, and if I had looked after myself a lot better, you know possibly I would have delayed the onset of it, although I probably wouldn't have enjoyed myself so much.


When he was younger Mike could eat and drink what he wanted but since having diabetes has had to...

I have always tended to work hard, enjoy my work, often long hours, and by way of relaxation I have always ate what I wanted and also drank what I wanted [laughs] probably a little on the excess side and for both eat- eating and drinking. But as I say, it has never bothered me. I have always eaten what I wanted and if I was overweight or you know, quite a bit over weight it never bothered me. And if I wanted a few drinks I have a few drinks. Always work hard during the week and relax at the weekends.

I was told I needed to lose some weight, which I found difficult to do. But I am still a little overweight [laughs] so I do need to lose some more. And I have tried to cut down on the amount of alcohol I drink, and have done so. So I have had to take a lot more interest in myself, if you like. Exercise a little more. If I wanted to go round to the shops that are only five minutes away I always got the car out to go round and get a paper or whatever, whereas now I don't. I walk, it is ten minutes there, and ten minutes back which is twenty minutes exercise.

So I do walk where ever possible, which I never would have done before. I go to the local football down the road. It is just over a mile. So I walk down on a Saturday afternoon. Or if there is a mid week game. So I walk a mile there, just over and a mile back just over. So I have walked a couple of miles, besides having a game of football. I have got friends there, so if it rains I get a lift back, so I don't get wet, but I have tried to exercise more. And eat more sensibly and drink more sensibly to look after myself since I had the diabetes.


At first Mike took metformin but for several years now he has controlled his diabetes with diet...

When I first had diabetes as I say it was quite a shock to me and I was put on metformin tablets, but after three months they took me off the tablets and said that I could control my diabetes by way of diet. And I am still controlling it by way of diet, so with the occasional lapses now, although my readings have crept up a little bit this year. So I'm not on any medication at all at present. Although I believe that diabetes does tend to get a little worse over the years, so I probably will go onto tablets again in due course, and possibly injections in the longer term. As I say, I need to concentrate more on keeping myself at the right weight and exercising more. If I am busy doing other things exercise seems to go out the window and I will also eat a little more than I should.


Mike questioned the need to take a statin but his doctor persuaded him.

I am now taking tablets for cholesterol my last reading was 4.9. I knew that it should be under 5, but the doctor told me now they were looking to be four, not five, and he put me on statins. It's simvastatin and my reading dropped down to about what was it three and a half I think. Yeah three and a half, it was on the blood check I had and that was about three months ago for cholesterol. But I wasn't keen on taking statins for cholesterol and I chatted at length to him, I said, 'Oh I prefer not to take them' and he said, 'Its not like HRT for women where there is like you get sort of the side effects,' and he said, 'People have taken tablets for cholesterol statins, in a number of countries for a number of years, and there has never been any side effects or problems,' and he said, 'I take them myself and it helps to keep your veins working properly.' And I thought, 'Well, you know I suppose then there's no harm in me taking them.'

But I was very reluctant to take them. In fact I think I said to him, 'I don't want to take them.' But he persuaded me to, so I do take as I say statins one at night for the cholesterol which has brought it down, you know, say to about three and a half, whereas it was almost, just over five, I think 5.1 and the previous one was 4.9. So you know it has brought my cholesterol down. But it is just my sort viewpoint I don't like taking medicines unless it is very, very necessary.


Mike has lost some feeling in his toes so he checks them regularly for any cuts to prevent them...

I have lost some of the feeling in my feet which quite amazed me. I call them tuning forks, which they vibrate, and they put them on your leg, knee and when they put them on my toe I said, 'No, I can't feel that.' [laughs]. And I have got some loss of feeling in my toes. It is not serious and it hasn't worsened over the last four years, but I didn't appreciate that that was the case.

It's been explained to me, loss of feeling, if you get a cut or a sore and it does become infected with loss of feeling, you are unaware of it. So the need to take care of my feet as well has been emphasised to me, so I do try and take more care. I do trying and check them occasionally and make sure I do see the chiropodist once a year the same as the optician, so I do ensure that I do get the right checks.

So' And the loss of sensation in my toes, as I say, it's not great, I'm almost totally unaware of it. So it hasn't bothered me at all, other than the fact that I need to keep an eye on it to make sure that when I get any sort of cuts which turn septic or anything like that, you know, which I might be unaware of. So I haven't suffered any physical discomforts whatsoever from diabetes.


Mike reflected on how diabetes led him to be more thoughtful about himself and his future.

I'm trying to think what else has affected me. I think it's caused me to think more deeply about myself and the future and I've realise the need for me to take better care of myself. So hopefully I will live a little longer.

I always remember going to a meeting at [the hospital] with a dietitian and there was a small group of us about ten, twelve, who had all recently been diagnosed with diabetes and the dietician who was very good and gave us excellent guidance, she was telling us what we should be eating and the quantities of food that we should be eating. And we were puffing and blowing at some of the things she was saying, and then she pointed out that this is what she ate normally, and what she did normally, and she didn't have diabetes. And how important it was for us.

So when I look back, I've never been very sensible with eating and drinking or exercising. But now I try to be more conscious and more sensible to negate the effect of diabetes and keep it under control.

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