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Paul - Interview 20

Age at interview: 52
Age at diagnosis: 38
Brief Outline: Paul was diagnosed 14 years ago when he was in hospital for a minor op. He takes metformin and uses other medication to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Background: Paul is an aircraft engineer and is married with 4 grown-up children aged 34, 32, 27 and 25 years. Ethnic background/Nationality: British.

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Paul's diabetes was diagnosed when he was 38 years old and had gone into hospital for a minor operation on his ingrown toenail. A routine urine sample led to the diagnosis.

The biggest change for Paul has been his diet and working out for himself what he can and can't eat. He decided to make changes for himself rather than following somebody else's advice. For example, he found that the cooking sauces he used made his blood sugars soar, so he stopped using them. What worked for him was to eat something and then check his blood glucose, and then decide whether or not to eat that food again. He does not always completely cut out food that raises his blood glucose levels, but tries to eat it less often, but Paul decided to eat fewer takeaways. 

Paul feels uncomfortable about taking what he considers a high dose of metformin (about 3000mg a day) and doesn't want to increase the dose. For the past 18 months, every time he had a blood test and his blood glucose was high, he asked for more time to bring it down. So far this system has worked for him and his dosage has not been increased. As well as metformin, Paul also takes tablets to reduce his blood pressure and cholesterol levels, though he wonders if being on these tablets will increase his insurance premiums. 

Paul used to play rugby. Since his diagnosis he has lost a lot of weight and by looking after his diet he feels his diabetes is under better control. He hopes that if he continues to be careful, his medication will not be increased, and that he will not need insulin. Paul enjoys walking, golf, gardening and playing with his grandchildren.

 
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Paul says he has a good sex life but that he would seek help immediately if anything changed.

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Oh yes of course it would. Yes, it would. It's obviously, you know I'm 52, but to me I am still a reasonably young man. So yeah, I do enjoy a good sex life and I want to carry on enjoying a good sex life, and yes it would be something that would worry me, if it affected things like that. But again if it does affect it, you can't be embarrassed about it, you've got to go and see about it. The quicker you go and see about it, the quicker you can get a result. Because if there's something wrong they can sort it out. But if you leave it, and leave it, till the point of no return, there's nothing you can do. Oh yes. It's sort of, you do get asked that at your MOT.

Oh you do?

Yes.

Yes and is it something that, you could discuss with anybody else do you think in the diabetic group?

I can. I am not embarrassed about it. I could discuss it with you. But certain people, can't. So, if you can't, then you've got to find somebody who you're comfortable with, talking with, to discuss it. But you can't sort of push it to one side, and say, 'I am not talking about this.' Because you can't, you've got to get it sorted. You know it's like loads of things, if your eyes are blurry, you'd go and see an optician. If you had a bad foot, you'd go and see' You'd go and see a doctor, or you would go and get it sorted. If you have got a problem sexually, you either need to go and see a doctor, or you need to talk to somebody who you feel happy with talking to. Probably the best one to talk to is your doctor. Male or female. If you're not, if you're not prepared to talk, or are sceptical of talking in front of female about it or you get embarrassed, then go and talk to a male doctor. If you are worried about talking to somebody face-to-face, then speak to somebody over the phone about it. But you can't leave it go, you can't, it is part, unfortunately it is part of the diabetes and you've just got to accept it, and just got to say, 'Fine, I'm having a problem with it. I'll go and see about it'. It could be something so simple. And it could be something, perhaps not so simple. But until you go and speak about it or get it sorted, then you're never ever going to get it sorted. And it will get to a point, perhaps they won't be able to do anything. I mean there is marvellous medication on thing I have been told. That's it. But no I'm fortunate, like as I said. I've been very fortunate with it. I sort of haven't had any side effects at all, as yet. I never say I never will, because it's 'as yet'.

 

He feels resigned to having diabetes and prefers to focus on controlling it as much as possible.

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Have you ever wondered why you have got diabetes?

Oh yeah. I wonder all the time, you think 'why me?' Probably it's like, it's probably like any other disease. If somebody goes to the hospital and they say you have got cancer, they say why me? But you can't answer it. There is no answer to it, it's you. It could have been your lifestyle. It could be inherited from your family. It could be through stress. It could be through anything. But you can't say how did I get it? Because you don't know. So you've just got to live with it. And that's it. You are diabetic. End of story. And there's nothing you do about it. You can worry about it as much as you like, you've got it and that is it. So you've just got to live with it, get on with it. Yes, you do. I mean when he said to me, you know, 'You have got sugar.' You think, 'Oh why me? What have I done, to deserve this?' You probably haven't done anything. It's probably like they say they jump a generation. Probably your grandparents had it. Perhaps you grandparents didn't have it. You might be the first of the family ever to have it. It could be from anything.

 

It took two or three weeks before Paul felt he had taken his diagnosis on board.

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When I first, when I was first told I had diabetes it was sort of, flip [laughs] 'What do I do now then?' I think, because basically I mean it's like somebody, it's like somebody hitting you with a cricket bat, you know it's probably the same thing, when somebody tells you, you've got cancer. It does take a shock. It gives you a shock, because you think, 'Quite gutted what do I do now then? Oh. That is it. I am ruined'. And it does. It does take you probably, a week or two for it to sort of sink in and I think, 'Hang on a minute, well it's not the end of the world. I am diabetic. I'm not on my own. Loads of diabetics out there, probably going through exactly the same thing that I've gone through, was going through. Go to a chat with other diabetic societies, there's loads of them. But it did take me a week or two.

And I thought to myself, 'Ahh'. And it is because obviously it is like, it's taking, you're taking away the things that you probably most enjoy, or you look forward to. It's... When you sit down and you think to yourself, 'Oh I can't have that'. Or I have never taken sugar in my tea. But a lot of people sort of go for it, and then they go, 'Oh I can't have sugar in my tea no more. I am diabetic'. Well you can but you go to different sugars. You go to sweeteners or something. It is exactly the same thing, you have, you have this tea then'It's the initial shock of somebody coming and telling you, you're diabetic and it's' you get over it, it sort of sinks in with you eventually, but it is the initial shock. I think you do think, 'Aw, I'm the only one', at that specific time. But you will, once you sit down, and sort of think about it, then set your mind into it. It does come round.

 

Paul has read books and used the internet but finds talking to other people the best approach.

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What about information. Where do you get your information about diabetes from? Because it is quite useful to have?

Internet. If you look probably in your local paper, you'll be a diabetic meeting. It is worth going along, to one of them. Or whatever, going along to many. Because there are loads of people there with diabetes at different levels and it's nice to have a chat to people who are at different levels, and how much it's affected their lives and what they do to control it. And how they have sort of sorted out and that's the best ways you will get it. 

Doctors can't tell you too much, because the doctors haven't got too much experience of it, unless they are a diabetic themselves. You go to diabetic nurses, they are trained, but they are only trained to a certain level. They can't, if you haven't got experience in that sort of case or whatever it is, then you won't get any sort of information on it. You've got to go and talk to a person who has got it. And you'll find if you, if you do go to a diabetic meeting it will open your eyes a lot. How it's affected people's lives. And how they have controlled it and how they advise you on things you can do, and what you can't do. And it, it is a good thing. The internet will give you a lot, but again I find, you're better off talking to somebody rather than reading it. 

You can buy all the books you like, but the books can't give you experience. Only a person telling you can give you the experience. How they've done it, and how they've got around it. So it's worth going to a diabetic. And they are all over the country. They're all in local papers, what dates they are, and where they are. Just give them a call and go along. There's loads of diabetic centres about.

 

Once he knew he had diabetes Paul made slow but steady changes to his rugby-lifestyle which has...

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I was playing rugby, but, I was still far [too] overweight. I was 23 stone. I still had plenty of exercise. I was still training twice a week. I'm playing on the Saturday, but, I was still eating to keep my weight up to play rugby, but I was fit enough. But of course, when I stopped playing rugby I was still 23 stone. But my exercise has gone now, hasn't it? So, your body changes dramatically, it does very quickly. It is surprising how quickly it changes, because I didn't get any exercise at all and I was training in the week. I tired I thought. 'That is it'' and I didn't bother; then you sit down one day and you think, 'Phew, I can't walk up this hill', and you try to lose weight and then I had to start breaking it down. I have got to get it down. And when I was rugby training, I was getting my weight down but not as much as I should have got it down. I didn't control it the way I should have controlled it and that again, 'Oh that is fine, I am fine, I am alright now. I've got the odd stone off', but if you take it off like that, you also put it on like that.

I'd have a Chinese on a Saturday night, I'd have a Chinese on a Sunday. Then I'd have my ten pints on a Saturday and my fifteen on Sunday. But when you stop doing an activity and your life doesn't change, you can't keep doing the same as what you were when you were doing the activities. You've got to change your body, because your body can't cope then, because it is not burning anything off. So, yeah.

And do you do any exercise now?

Oh yeah, yeah. I play golf, I go to the gym, a bit of gardening, play with the kids, walk a lot, you know' I'm down to around sixteen and a half stone, but I have got it down, probably the right way, just taking off bit by bit, not sort of go berserk and lose a stone this month, because the minute you stop then doing something, you will put it straight back on, so you just don't drink anything down and get it to come down gradually. It has gone on gradually. So you have got to get it off gradually and then it will stay off as long as you keep to what you are doing.

 

He believes that being on many different medications has increased his insurance costs.

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But that was another, sort of, sticky point there, they put you on all these tablets and they say' But then they don't consider what, how much of an effect it is having on you because, when you go to get travel insurance, you have got to disclose all this. And they say, 'You have got blood pressure?' and I say, 'I haven't.' 'But you're on a blood pressure tablet.' 'Yes, but I haven't got blood pressure. I am on a blood pressure tablet just in case.' But the insurance companies don't look at it that way. The same again with the cholesterol, and it annoys me a bit, I got to be honest, and truthful, the way some doctors do treat the patients. And I think, the thing is the doctor doesn't understand diabetes, enough, because no diabetic is the same. And that's the problem they have got, so they just, they just group everybody in the same manner. So, 'We'll just give them all of them tablets, and we'll be alright, because all of them are diabetics. No matter that they're all different. We just keep them all the same, medication-wise'. And I think it's wrong. I don't think there's enough experience with diabetes. I don't think there is enough research into diabetes for the individual diabetic.

 

Paul doesn't go out as much as he used to and drinks less but says he's made the choice for...

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If we talk a little about sort of your social life. Has diabetes had any effect on your social life?

Oh yes, it has because I don't' I stopped going out as much as what I used to. And thing is, I used to go out seven nights a week. And I thought 'I've got to cut this out', so I cut it down to five nights a week. And then I cut it down to three nights a week. Now I go out on a Sunday and I might go out on an occasional Saturday, but it's been all through my own choice. Yeah, you probably can say it's affected my social life to a point, but as I say it's affected my social the way I wanted to affect it. Not what somebody is telling me, 'You are not going out and that is it'. I've decided not to do it. And I am saying, 'Oh I'm not going down tonight. I'm not going to have a pint tonight. I'm not going to bother'. So now I don't.

I don't have a drink. Very rarely drink in the week. I just go out on the weekend. Sometimes I go out on a Saturday night, sometimes I won't go out on a Saturday night. It all depends how I feel. But I do go out on a Sunday. I make a point of going out, I make a point of going out every Sunday. You've got to make a, say point, and say, I'm not going to do this, but I am going out Friday night to play darts or whatever. Or I am going out Sunday. You've got to keep going out one night. You can't just' because you will otherwise, you will just get in a rut, and say, 'I'm not going out now', and you will end up sitting in the house. You can't do that. You have got to make a vocal point. And again a lot entails with my job. Because of my shifts. And I think, 'I can't do this, because I am up in the morning driving', and so I just won't bother. No, I don't know, no bother. No, but, so social wise is going out for weddings or engagements or out with the, you know, family in a week end, or friends company. No it hasn't. It hasn't affected me. I don't drink as much as what I used to. But again that's through my choice, but I don't say, 'No I am not going'. I go, and I'll have a pint. I'll have a drink I won't go out and drink squash or water. I go for a pint, or what's the point of going to a pub, just for a glass of water. I am going out for a pint. And that is no reason I can't have a pint. So no, I can't really say it has affected my social life, sort of, any other way.

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