Diabetes and Me – Vicky Metcalfe

This Diabetes Week UK, we invited Payroll & Compliance Co-Ordinator Vicky Metcalfe, to share her story of diagnosis. The theme of this year’s campaign revolves around health checks and how regular health checks are vital to keep you healthy and living life to the full.

“My name is Vicky Metcalfe and in December 2023 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. As a result of this, I now have to take Metformin twice a day. When I first started taking it, it was only one tablet a day, on a morning with or after food. This was so my body could get used to taking it. Then, from the second week, I had to up it to two tablets a day, still one on a morning and then one at teatime. I also had to start watching what I was eating and drinking.”

Vicky’s Story

“Let me start from the beginning when it all began. It was five years ago when I went to the doctors to have my first women’s health check. Back then, I didn’t really care or think too much about my health, my weight etc. When the results came back, they showed that I was borderline diabetic. I carried on as normal, eating and drinking whatever I liked and not exercising. With this result and my attitude at the time, I didn’t bother attending my second health check a few years later.

Fast forward to September 2023 when I went for my routine eye test. The pictures they take at the opticians allows them to look behind your eyes and see what the blood vessels are like; they are supposed to be straight but mine were very wiggly. They have been wiggly for quite a few years already but this time they were much worse. The optician became very concerned with this result and stated that if my eyes get any worse, there could be a chance that one of the vessels would burst and I could lose my sight, which wasn’t pleasant to hear. They said they were going to write a referral to my GP to get me in for more tests. This spurred me on to actually book an up to date health check myself, which was probably for the best, as I hadn’t been for five years.

In October 2023, I did attend an appointment at my doctor’s surgery for my health check. They checked my blood pressure, weight and took bloods. The tests showed that I had high blood pressure and was classed as obese, which I already knew, I just have never done anything about it. Some of the blood tests came back abnormal and I was requested to go back to the doctor’s surgery to have more bloods taken four weeks later, taking us to late November 2023.

Getting the diabetes diagnosis

By the middle of December 2023, all tests came back and I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I already had a feeling I might have been given all the tests but didn’t want to acknowledge at the time. The Health Nurse spoke to me in great detail all the effects the diabetes would have on me and that I would need to change my lifestyle and eating/drinking habits. With the help of the medication and the changes to my diet, I could get the diabetes under control. They went on to inform me all the food and drink to avoid and to start looking on the labels for the Carbohydrates of which are sugars section to see if I could have that particular food or drink. I was informed that anything under 5g per serving would be fine to have, anything between 5g and 15g per serving was ok but in moderation and anything over 15g was a no.

They also gave me information leaflets and website addresses associated with diabetes and told me to read up all I could to understand what having diabetes would mean for me now and in the future. This was definitely an eye opener for me and took me a while to get used to all the changes I had to make. One of the biggest changes was the amount of canned drinks I consumed. I was drinking at least one-two cans a day but was informed that I should only be having one-two cans a week. I also changed the sugar content in my tea and coffee, I now use sweetener and only a little amount. By doing this it has reduced the amount of sugar I now consume and a step further in changing my eating and drinking habits. Don’t get me wrong it’s hard at times and I can’t say I’ve given up sugar all to together because I haven’t. I still have a cheeky chocolate bar when I want one but now it’s not every day like it used to be. I am now more mindful and careful about what I am consuming on a daily basis.

As stated at the beginning, I’m taking Metformin, this is also helping me to reduce my sugar levels. I started taking it a week before Christmas and let me tell you, it was not a happy Christmas. Due to the side effects from the medication, I was not in the mood to celebrate, eat, drink or be merry and it was hard, very hard. The nausea and sickness feeling, my stomach feeling like it was a washing machine on a fast spin and my low mood, I was not very good company but for the sake of my family and not wanting to spoil their Christmas I just carried on the best I could. It has taken a few months for my body not to feel like that anymore and looking back the side effects could have been a lot worse. Luckily, I now no longer have any side effects.

Recent tests show progress

My latest check-up for bloods was in March 2024 and a week later I was given the results.  Now I’m no medical expert and I don’t always understand the jargon, but the health nurse was very pleased with my progress. In three months, I had managed to get my sugar levels from 89 mmol/L to 54 mmol/L but there is still a long way to go. I have also lost just over a stone and a half in weight, even though I’m not actively trying to lose weight, I am pleased with the progress so far, it’s with the changes to my diet and less sugar intake that this has been possible.

I’ve also had to undergo tests on my feet and eyes. Just to make sure there is no numbness in my feet and no deterioration in my sight. All results came back positive, and I don’t need them both testing again for another year.

Over the last six months, I have had great support from my family, friends and work colleagues, without them to talk to I don’t know how I would have coped. My work colleagues are always making sure and reminding me to have my breakfast so I can take my first tablet of the day and my family at home for my second tablet at teatime. It’s people like them that gives me the strength and positivity to take one step at a time on this journey which I will forever be on.

If I could give advice to anyone who might be going through the same thing or think they might be hurdling towards having diabetes, is you are not alone and you can combat this and change your life for the better. Finding a support network within your family, friends, work colleagues is also the first step to controlling this disease. Talk to them about how you feel and the issues you may or may not have. Speak to your health nurse at your doctor’s surgery and air your concerns, don’t do it alone, as this will only make it harder for you to get the help and support you deserve. Be strong and be positive and you can do anything when you put your mind to it. If I can change my ways and outlook, there is hope for others to do the same.

Thank you for reading my story.”