One year ago, Debra went to her doctor with a few health issues. She left with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. They wanted to put her on Metformin immediately, but Debra wanted to see if she could help things with lifestyle changes before going on medication. This last year, she has worked hard on doing just that. Read on to know how she did. This is her story:
I would love to share my story and happy to share photos. I love to help others. A person who has reversed diabetes. It wasn’t hard. I found it easy, actually. The good thing is that I lost 55 pounds (25 kg) in the process. In just over six months. Here is my story:
So, here I am, 12 months on to the day, from being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My anniversary seems like a very appropriate time to give you my story.
Grab a coffee, throw in a good splash of double cream, enjoy that with a couple of pieces of 85% dark choccie, sit down, relax cos here I go!!!
Beginning of December 2017, I went to my doctor with worrying symptoms: severe unrelenting heartburn for a few weeks (I don’t suffer at all from heartburn now) and IBS-like symptoms (mad dash for the loo!). These aren’t your normal type 2 diabetes symptoms, but looking back I had other issues which would be associated with type 2 diabetes that I just put down to menopause. Dry mouth, yeast infections and blurry vision on a couple of occasions. The doctor did blood work.8/12/17: diagnosed/labelled with type 2 diabetes – hba1c 62mmol/mol (7.8% DCCT) – anything over 48 is diabetes. The diabetes nurse wanted to start me on Metformin straight away and told me the disease was indeed progressive. I asked for three months to try lifestyle changes which she agreed to.
I didn’t want to start meds. My mum was offered Thalidomide. Thankfully, as poorly and sick as she was pregnant with me, she refused. Metformin can have unpleasant side effects. It can be very beneficial in treating diabetes and has been around for years. One of the safest tablets. But I feel many patients think they can take this and continue to eat as usual. This is why the disease is classed as progressive. Even taking meds, people have to really reduce carb intake. Especially when it comes to foods that spike blood sugars like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, cereal as examples. Spikes are not good. This is where the complications can set in with kidneys, eyes, strokes etc. It’s best to keep blood sugars under a certain level to avoid complications and having to take more and more meds.
Anyway, back to my journey. I came away an emotional wreck, devastated and angry with myself as I thought I had brought it on myself, worried for the future as I saw what my mum went through the same thing, and feeling quite ashamed.
Weight 203 lbs (93 kg) – the photo of me holding flowers was my last day working for PDS Medical, 26th November 2017 showing me at my heaviest. I googled “reversing diabetes” as soon as I got home. I found lots of info from various sites that seemed to point to low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) way of eating, that seemed to be the solution, I was very happy that there even was a solution!Became a member on Diabetes.co.uk (one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life). Googled ‘carbs’ as had no idea what a carb really was or how it affected my body! Read as much as I could to learn about my condition on this forum and also Diet Doctor website. Watched videos on YouTube. I changed my way of eating straight away.
Basically, I cut out pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, cereals, fruit juice and stopped drinking red wine and eating peanuts! Found alternative foods. Never in a million years did I think I could cut out wine completely, it was an enjoyable part of my life, but I cut it out straight away… cold turkey :-)
Became a designated driver much to hubby’s delight! I began drinking jugs of water during the evening. Started to test my blood-glucose levels first thing in the morning (my fasting blood sugar). Tested before I ate anything and 2 hours after – if it wasn’t back to base or at least within 2 points I looked at what I had eaten to ensure I avoid it or adjusted portion size for next time. I realised the higher the carbs the higher the reading.
28/12/17: 14 lbs (6 kg) weight loss – now 189 lbs (86 kg) – yes, I did weigh myself every day :-) If I spoke about my reason for the change I just said I “had high blood sugars”. I was ashamed to admit I had diabetes.
1/2/18: 28 lbs (13 kg) weight loss – now 175 lbs (79 kg). I was starting to get my head around it and started to admit to friends I had diabetes but still with my head hung low.
11/2/18: last minute (as usual) packing for my holiday in Portugal. Tried holiday clothes – everything was hanging off me! Had to dash out to get a whole new holiday wardrobe much to my delight (although it did put me under pressure!) The photo of me in the white trousers was me trying on my clothes.
19/2/18 : Diabetes review – HbA1c 47 mmol/mol (6.4% DCCT) so now in pre-diabetes range (42 to 48 pre-diabetes)! No mention of starting me on meds. I felt absolutely ecstatic but knew I had a way to go still.
2/5/18: 42 lbs (19 kg) loss. Diabetes review – HbA1c 41 mmol/mol (5.9% DCCT) non-diabetes level (under 42).
At this point I’m telling every man and his dog about my diagnosis, blogging on my social media page, stopping people whilst out shopping, shouting at the TV and writing blogs on the Diabetes.co.uk forum. The blog I wrote on DCUK about my 3 stone weight loss and having to buy a new wardrobe caught the attention of their press office.
From this point, my rise to stardom commenced!!!
28/6/18: Reached my target goal of 50 lbs (23 kg) loss – at 153 lbs (69 kg).3/7/18: article in my local Gazette, and on their Facebook page – I answered peoples comments/questions and loved helping but that soon died down but I had then got the bug – I wanted to spread the word. I also wrote about my 50-lb loss on my Facebook page.
18/7/18: a brilliant local photographer Scott Somerside saw my Facebook post and invited me for a photo shoot to celebrate – so many fabulous photos, the lighting was top notch ;-) I love them, how slim and confident I look. Because I was, I am. I still have to pinch myself now. I must say that if anyone is considering a photo shoot, Scott really puts you at ease and is just absolutely great to work with.
I put out my thoughts to fellow forum members on DCUK about getting together with our big pants, getting our own PR team and taking our own videos and photos to spread the word, but DCUK wanted to support us in this venture and provided room, food and their own PR team for us. With just a few weeks to prepare as the date was arranged for first of September, we managed to get a fabulous day organised – we got to meet, and indeed thank, many of our forum heroes face to face and it was amazing. We pulled together members’ inspirational stories about diabetes reversal, weight loss, coming off blood pressure meds, not having aching joints, helping with concentration levels, no more migraines, and so much more, all because of this way of eating. People were turning their health around.
Forum members were more than willing to help, even though they had challenging lives themselves with one thing and another. This resulted in a fabulous low carb recipe booklet complete with hints and tips and an invaluable blood sugar monitoring leaflet. I included a paper written by a local doctor, Dr. Unwin, who has saved thousands of pounds by recommending the low carb programme. I put together a sheet of forum members who had reversed their condition and lost over 100 stone (1400 lbs, 635 kg) between them and I could have done sheets of the same. And the 1936 diabetes guidelines which were keto!
September: Edition of the lesser spotted Northern Life magazine with me juggling low carb food made me laugh – genius.
October: Edition of Simply You Magazine – invited on an all expenses paid trip to London for a makeover and my story to be told thanks to DCUK Press Office. I had an amazing day at the studio and after when I met one of my lovely friends from the forum.
October: I joined the Patient Participation Group at my surgery. My surgery have been ultra supportive and together with the practice manager we are working out a plan for me to help fellow people with diabetes, this may be one to one’s or giving talks or both, but the discussions have started.
October: I also joined the local Diabetes Group who hold monthly meetings at Tesco. They have asked me to do a talk on my journey which I am doing in January. I’m out of my comfort zone but I’m sure I will find the confidence once I get going. I’m a keyboard warrior but not so confident public speaking!
November: “A patient’s story – Debra” is attached to the GP newsletter which is being circulated across the 2 surgeries and around Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre hopefully – touting for business in the nicest possible way!
Diabetes review – HbA1c 39 mmol/mol (5.7% ). In the 30s (not been there for a while 😉).December: The practice manager at my surgery is going great guns, she is contacting other PMs telling them I’m happy to help and hopefully we can get a few more people with diabetes interested. She has also confirmed that the council wants to work with me! They are very keen on supporting anything that encourages good health. I have the support of the forum members who are going to help in any way they can as this is all new to me.
56 lbs (25 kg) lost now (bar 1 lb (0.5 kg) haha) – 148 lbs (67 kg).
6/12/18: Invite to CCG meeting received.
What a year it has been – one of the best and most rewarding years of my entire life, my diagnosis has been a blessing in disguise.
I do believe my blogs have inspired a few to follow my footsteps and the feedback is absolutely heartwarming. I’m so happy as I know what a battle it is to lose even 1 lb (0.5 kg)!!! I had that t-shirt and gave up trying in the end. Moral of this story – NEVER GIVE UP. YOU CAN DO IT!
Special thanks to:
My mum for being my guiding light, loved and missed every single day, but more so at this time of year when she used to move in with us for Christmas and New Year.
My wonderful husband who has been so supportive. He himself has lost 18 lbs (8 kg), not making as many changes as me (he doesn’t have to). But small changes have given him fantastic results in only six months, well done! I’m so proud of you.
My family and friends, you know who you are.
Diabetes.co.uk forum for introducing me to some wonderful people. Their help and support have been incredible. Totally awesome and a privilege to know.
Armenian Kebab house for my weekly treat, chicken shish no pita bread, lots of chili sauce and garlic mayo.
My local farm who have kept me supplied in eggs, bacon, cream and cheese!
Every journey starts with a single step.
Thank you for all your help, Diet Doctor. I tell everyone about you when sharing my journey.
Congratulations Debra, that’s a fantastic story. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve already inspired hundreds of people to improve their health, at least. Hopefully even more people will be inspired now.
What a good idea to be invited to London for things like that, thanks for the tip. We might try something similar in the near future…
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Type 2 diabetes