A diagnosis of diabetes can feel life shattering, but education is the key to turning the bombshell into something positive. AASMA DAY talks to a Lancashire woman who took control of her life after being told she had diabetes - and lost a massive seven-and-a-half stones in the process.
A SUDDEN diagnosis can often leave people feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
But education and taking control of their life can help them turn a negative into a positive.
That’s exactly what Ramona Mulligan did after feeling unwell and going to see her doctor and finding out she had diabetes at the age of 41.
Ramona, now 48, who lives in Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley, weighed 17 stones at the time and the diagnosis gave her the push she needed to change her lifestyle and become healthier.
Ramona, who moved from the USA to Chorley in 2004, even took up running and has taken part in events including the Great Manchester Run.
Ramona, a recruitment consultant, is now backing a new national campaign highlighting the importance of diabetes education.
Diabetes UK’s new ‘Taking Control’ campaign highlights the huge difference diabetes education courses can make.
These courses can help people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes take better control of their condition, giving them the best possible chance of living long and healthy lives.
Ramona, who had struggled with her weight for many years, lost seven-and-a-half-stones to take control of her life and her diabetes.
She is now encouraging others to attend a diabetes education course to help them.
Ramona explains: “I was fortunate enough to attend an education course called DESMOND not long after I was diagnosed.
“It helped me understand what diabetes meant for me and what I had to do to change my life around.
“I was able to take back the life that I wanted to live, by making simple changes to my lifestyle.
“My husband Kirk came along too. He learnt more about the condition and potential complications.
“It helped us both to adapt to life with diabetes.”
As a campaigner with Diabetes UK, Ramona is also campaigning to ensure diabetes education is available to everybody.
She says: “There are many people who do not have access to diabetes education courses which is why it is so important to emphasise the impact that information and support can have.
“Diabetes is a progressive condition and although I was able to manage it through diet and fitness initially, I now take insulin in order for my body to be able to function properly.
“The needs of people with diabetes can change and so I also believe it’s important for education to play an ongoing role in people’s lives and in the treatment of diabetes.”
Stephen Ryan, regional manager at Diabetes UK, says: “Those who have just been diagnosed with diabetes or who have been living with the condition for some time can find it difficult to get their heads around how to successfully manage the condition.
“But by attending a diabetes education course, they can instead feel empowered to take control and manage their condition with confidence.
“There is strong evidence that when people with diabetes are equipped with the knowledge and skills to manage their condition effectively, they can improve their quality of life.
“They can also reduce their risk of developing avoidable complications, such as kidney disease, stroke and amputation.
“These are not only personally devastating, but also expensive to treat.
“Diabetes costs the NHS nearly £10 billion a year, 80 per cent of which is spent on managing avoidable complications.
“But by giving people the knowledge and skills to manage their diabetes effectively, we can reduce their long-term risk of complications and reduce the cost burden on the NHS. We want to encourage everyone in Preston and the surrounding areas who is living with diabetes to go and ask their healthcare professional for information about a diabetes education course.
“The campaign also calls on the NHS to make sure that everyone with diabetes has access to the education and support they need to manage their diabetes well. Everyone with diabetes should have access to education from the moment of diagnosis and then throughout their lives.”
In the UK, there are 3.5m people diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 549,000 people living with undiagnosed diabetes.
The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the Greater Preston area is 10,795 with a further 9,747 in Chorley and South Ribble and 8,682 in Fylde and Wyre.
There are a number of diabetes courses available in the UK:-
• DAFNE: For people with Type 1 diabetes. Learn how to estimate the carbohydrates in each meal and inject the right dose of insulin so you can fit diabetes into your own lifestyle.
For more details, visit: www.dafne.uk.com
• DESMOND: For people with Type 2 diabetes. Helps you understand your diabetes, make food choices and take control. Visit: www.desmond-project.org.uk
• X-PERT Diabetes Programme: For people with Type 2 diabetes. Explore how diabetes affects your body and how lifestyle changes can help you manage your diabetes. Visit: www.xperthealth.org.uk
• There are also a number of locally based courses – so ask your healthcare professional about the different options relevant to you.
• Diabetes UK careline is a support helpline for anyone with diabetes, their friends, family and carers.
Call 0345 123 2399.