It’s important to accept that you have the condition

Photo of a man and boy fishing (PantherMedia / Dmitriy Shironosov)

Kurt, 47 years old

But after a while it becomes as normal as having a wash or brushing your teeth.

It was my urologist who diagnosed my diabetes. It came as a bit of a shock to me. Urinating had suddenly become painful and I had to go to the toilet more often because I was also drinking more. I thought I had a bladder or kidney infection and went to see my urologist. I had never had anything like it before. He suspected that I had a virus. As I was leaving, I asked him whether that would explain the fact that I had recently been drinking more than usual. I used to wake up often in the night feeling incredibly thirsty and would down a glass of water in no time. His ears pricked up and he suggested I have a urine test done.

My blood sugar levels were very bad then

At first I thought that I had just had a bad day. I simply couldn’t imagine that I could have diabetes. When my doctor confirmed the diagnosis over the phone, I was astounded. The first few days were pretty tough. The final diagnosis came in late October and I was given an appointment for a diabetes patient education course in a clinic in January. Things went pretty well after the that. It was a blessing in disguise, I must say. My blood sugar levels were very bad when my diabetes was diagnosed. I was incredibly fortunate to be in such good hands so soon.

It was clear to me that the sooner I accepted the illness, the better I would be able to handle it. I injected insulin right from the start. Injecting myself felt pretty strange at first. But I wasn’t afraid of needles. Unlike a lot of people, I had never been afraid of having injections. It didn’t take long to learn how to give myself an injection.

Every now and then I have a slight problem with high or low blood sugar levels, sometimes because of what I've eaten, sometimes because I have an infection in my body. Sometimes I can't explain my blood sugar levels, though. I can't work out why they are too high or too low. But my sugar levels are generally all right.

In the first few years I used to get beads of sweat on my forehead when I had low blood sugar. That stopped happening after a while, but now I notice other signs of low blood sugar when it falls below a certain level. For example, I can no longer concentrate very well and get a bit confused. Sometimes people who know me well notice that I have low sugar levels before I do. Then they'll say something like "It might be a good idea for you to have something to eat or drink. Are you perhaps feeling a bit off color?" It can sometimes creep up on you and you might not notice, especially if you are concentrating hard on something else.

I have a sort of regular schedule, just like I brush my teeth around the same time every day

Poor blood sugar levels can be a problem at work, particularly if I have difficulties concentrating. There are days when it’s very noticeable. But thankfully you don't normally notice anything most days.

Thanks to the excellent care I received from the doctors and nurses, I soon felt better again. They really took good care of me on a personal level, too. I got used to living with the injections and measuring my blood sugar. I got the hang of it relatively quickly. There are worse things in the world than diabetes. I have lived with it for 20 years now and don’t consider it to be a problem.

It wasn't a problem for the people close to me. If anything, my family were too protective and overly considerate.

I went for the intensive insulin therapy approach from the start. I check my blood sugar levels regularly throughout the day and adjust the amount of insulin I take accordingly. After injecting, I sometimes wait a little while before eating, and sometimes I don't. It depends on the situation and my blood sugar levels. I have a sort of regular schedule, just like I brush my teeth around the same time every day. I measure my blood sugar when I wake up in the morning, just before lunch, before dinner and then again shortly before bed. I check it more often if necessary, like if I need to balance out poor blood sugar levels or to check that they have stabilized. This is all a pretty normal part of my daily routine. Sometimes I can’t follow the usual time schedule – for example when I’m on holiday, if I spontaneously decide to do some exercise or if, for some reason, I can’t eat a meal at the usual time. But these are normally situations that I could have prevented. Afterwards I then realize "I shouldn't have done that, it’s no wonder my sugar levels were so high or so low." But in general the time schedule works well for me. I have to admit that it was a bit annoying at first. But after a while it becomes as normal as having a wash or brushing your teeth.

I try to have small snacks throughout the day between meals. But it doesn't always fit in with what I'm doing that day or it isn’t appropriate at the time. I’m pretty flexible as far as that’s concerned. I also haven’t had any weight problems so far.

It's all about accepting that you have diabetes

I go for regular check-ups. They’re very important to me. I’m worried about diabetes-related complications.

I think it’s crucial that you find a good doctor very soon, if possible a diabetes specialist or a clinic, so that your blood sugar levels can be monitored and improved. It’s also essential that you accept that you have diabetes so you can start dealing with it as soon as possible. You need to have good information too, in order to understand and cope with the illness. Accepting it yourself is extremely important.

Diabetes isn’t an illness that is associated with a great deal of problems. It may have been in the past, when there were so many things you weren't allowed to do. But things are different now.


Acknowledgment

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.