New peer support groups have been launched in South Holland for people living with diabetes.
Having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Hayley Gedney has worked with Diabetes UK to launch the new groups in Spalding and Long Sutton, to help other people with diabetes, as well as their carers.
“I’ve always looked after myself – exercised and followed a healthy diet, but I’d been feeling unwell for a while,” explains Hayley. “I had recurring thrush for around six months, felt lethargic, I couldn’t quench my thirst and then I lost half a stone in two weeks.
“Within 24 hours of going to the doctors I was in a hospital bed and on an insulin drip for three days while they tried to balance my sugar levels. Had I not gone to see someone I could have been in a coma three days later and no-one would have known what was wrong with me.”
That was two years ago and, since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Hayley has carried out lots of research into diabetes and learnt how to change her lifestyle to manage it.
Type 1 diabetes means Hayley’s blood glucose levels are too high because her body can’t make insulin. Everyone needs insulin, it allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies. Around eight percent of diabetics have type 1, The more common form of diabetes is type 2 when the pancreas produces some insulin but not enough for the body’s needs, or the body’s cells are resistant to it – in many cases type 2 diabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes.
Hayley injects herself with insulin and follows a strict diet and exercise programme, helping to balance her blood sugar levels, and thanks to her own experiences has launched the new peer support groups.
“I realised there are a lot of people out there who need extra support after their diagnosis. I am only here as a volunteer to facilitate the groups and signpost people to other services, such as community nurses, who can also help them. The idea is for the meetings to be patient-led – people can come along, ask questions, share their experiences, talk about diabetes and we can work together to improve their condition.”
The next meeting of the Spalding group will be on 6 June at 6pm at Tonic Health, 6 Broadgate House, Westlode Street, whilst the next meeting of the Long Sutton group will be on 14 June at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm at Long Sutton Market House.