Helen was diagnosed three years ago. She is currently controlling her diabetes with a low dosage of gliclazide + diet and exercise regime.
Helen had none of the classic symptoms of type 2 diabetes, so the diagnosis was a big shock. She had been under a lot of pressure as a head teacher, was also looking after her own family and her elderly parents. She had been feeling tired and was frequently emotional. Her main complaint though was an itchy, burning sensation in her thumb and occasionally itchy feet, which she thought might be the beginnings of Parkinson’s disease – which is in her family. She didn’t feel especially thirsty, nor did she need the toilet any more than she always had, so when her blood tests showed high blood glucose levels, she and her doctor were surprised.
Once she realised she had diabetes, Helen drastically altered her diet and started exercising more. She lost some weight (despite not having much to lose) but the regimen proved unsustainable and the doctor advised her not to lose any more weight. She was prescribed gliclazide which seemed to make her mouth very dry and painful (‘as if my teeth were being drawn out’). When she could endure it no longer, she told the GP who prescribed metformin instead. Metformin however gave her bowel problems, so she restarted gliclazide, but this time she re-examined her diet and exercise regimen and changed it a bit so that she ate a bit more, and things finally began to settle down.
Helen is now on only on half a tablet of gliclazide each day and has found a way to counter the dryness in her mouth. She eats a lot of vegetables, more pulses and less red meat. She also walks regularly, and now that she has retired she feels more relaxed. Her husband has been a huge source of support for her throughout, and she feels that her life is now well balanced.