Peterborough’s Matthew Jones at a fitness session with TDHS Allied Health Assistant Tracey Heeps

Type 2 Diabetes a surprise wakeup call for Matt

Matthew Jones was oblivious to the fact something was very wrong with his health. Luckily his partner Kristy was determined to get to the bottom of it.

“She kept saying things like, ‘are you okay’, ‘you’re not quite right’, ‘you’re mumbling a lot’, ‘you’re not making much sense’ and ‘you’re off with the fairies again’,” Matt said

“I kept saying I was fine…a typical bloke’s response I suppose. I kept pushing back and thought I was okay, but my reality was way out.”

Matt, who lives in Peterborough, said he needed an unrelated script from his GP, Dianna Peneva-Arabadjiyska at the Timboon Clinic and Kristy went along with him.

“Kristy kind of blurted out everything she had been seeing me do and Dianna did a finger prick straight away and tested my blood,” he said.

“I remember she said ‘go over to the hospital right now and I’ll meet you over there’. The next thing I knew I was in hospital for a week.

“They did more detailed testing at the hospital and I can’t remember all the numbers but my sugar level was through the roof and my ketones were three or four times what they should have been.

“I had no idea. I thought I was okay and I don’t really feel any different now that I’m on top of it, but Kristy says I’m 100 per cent better. She sees the signs much more than me.”

Matt, 46, said he began twice daily insulin injections while in hospital and continued injecting himself at home for a period of time before moving to tablets.

“My diet has never been really poor. Kristy is a chef…but I used to drink too much soft drink which is probably where a lot of this stemmed from,” Matt said.

“Since I was diagnosed last year, I’ve started to look after my health much more and the people here at the health service have been great.

Matt said he worked with Tracey Heeps in the gym the most, but also dietitian Emily Boyle, diabetes educator Cheryl Poole, physiotherapist Sarah Rahles-Rahbula and social worker Hayley Weel.

Matt agreed to share his story to raise community awareness and help mark National Diabetes Week, from July 11-17.

He said he was lucky and hadn’t experienced any stigma around his diabetes.

“I live life very carefree…nothing much gets to me. But I would say I haven’t experienced any judgement or seen any sign of a stigma since my diagnosis,” he said.

Unfortunately, according to Diabetes Australia, Matthew’s experience is quite uncommon.

Data suggests that more than four in five people with diabetes have experienced diabetes stigma and nearly 50 per cent have experienced mental health challenges in the last 12 months.

People experience diabetes stigma when they are blamed for having diabetes, judged when they eat, shamed for taking medication and jokes are made about them.

This National Diabetes Week, industry experts are urging community members to have a conversation about the real impact diabetes stigma can have on a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

Heads up on Diabetes

By TDHS Diabetes Coordinator Cheryl Poole

National Diabetes Week is celebrated from 11 – 17 July. This year diabetes Australia has chosen to focus on Diabetes and Mental Health. 

Living with diabetes is challenging. Navigating the healthcare system, daily self-care activities in addition to life’s everyday stressors can result in distress, anxiety and burnout.

The first step is to recognise if we, or someone around us is not coping and seek assistance.

In modern times we are exposed to lots of misinformation on social media adding to misconceptions and stigma for people living with diabetes.

It is important this week to clarify myths.  

  • Type 1 diabetes is a condition where cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed, and the body is unable to make insulin. It cannot be prevented or cured and will require insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes has many risk factors most of which cannot be changed including family genetics, age, ethnicity, other medical conditions including PCOS and medications. 50% of people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes may require Insulin at some stage. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease and there is no cure. People control their Type 2 diabetes through medication and lifestyle.

At TDHS we have a great multidisciplinary team that can support people living with diabetes along with their GP, family and support network.

Professionals can provide knowledge and opportunity to empower people to manage their diabetes whether it’s Diabetes Education, Nutrition Education, Social Work, Podiatry or Exercise Physiology.

Please don’t hesitate to discuss your Diabetes and Mental Health needs with our team.

As a Community we can support people living with by Diabetes by being kind and providing equal opportunities.

NDSS National Helpline 1800 637 700

Life Line 13 11 14

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