Nutrition has always been important to me

Photo of a woman (Banana Stock / Banana Stock / Thinkstock) Clara, 63 years old

"I think you can lead quite a normal life with type 2 diabetes."

I found out that I have diabetes four years ago. I always had a dry mouth and mentioned it to my doctor. A blood test showed that I had high blood sugar. By that time I think I had probably already had high blood sugar for quite a while. After all, I'd been noticing the symptoms for quite some time already.

For the first three years I took tablets, two a day. But then I noticed that the tablets had stopped working properly. I constantly had a dry mouth again and often felt weak.

When I was in the hospital for knee replacement surgery the doctors asked me about my blood sugar levels. They had noticed obvious fluctuations and suggested that I take insulin.

I went to training sessions regularly

I learnt how to inject insulin using a syringe there. At first I had regular training sessions, and then I only went once every two weeks. Now I just go every once in a while. I have read a lot about diabetes and feel a lot better since I started going for regular check-ups at the doctor's. They were great at showing me how things are done. I am very happy.

I started injecting insulin myself using an insulin pen. It wasn’t difficult to get used to. I switched to using long-acting insulin that I have to inject once in the morning and once in the evening. On top of that, I inject regular short-acting insulin before every meal. (Note from the editor: human insulin). The amount depends on what I eat. I have to work out how much I need each time.

I have two main meals a day. Before each meal I measure my blood sugar, then take the insulin and eat straight after. I don’t wait between injecting and eating, and that works out well for me. Sometimes I have a snack between meals, but not regularly and not every day. When I have a snack I don’t inject extra insulin each time but include it in my overall calculations instead.

I can control my diabetes

I don’t find it difficult to inject myself. Some people have a problem with it. That wasn’t the case with me. Sometimes I inject myself in the tummy, sometimes in my thigh. It works well. It really isn’t a problem. I can control my diabetes that way. The tablets didn’t work as well. I feel better now that I inject insulin.

My mother also had adult-onset diabetes. She didn’t see it as a burden. My siblings don’t have diabetes. My brothers never had weight problems, whereas I have had problems with my weight ever since the birth of my child. I never really lost the weight again. I have wanted to lose weight for a long time. I really enjoy eating good food. Nutrition has always been important to me. I eat less sugary food now. Every now and again I eat a small piece of chocolate, but that’s enough. It all works out fine. So far I haven’t lost any weight, but I haven’t put any on for two years now either.

I eat completely normally. I don’t buy special food products for people with diabetes – not only because they are too expensive but also because I simply don’t need them. I write down what I eat and make note of my blood sugar levels in a book. I’m happy to do so.

I also regularly eat jam, just regular jam, which I often enjoy making myself.

The fact that fruit has so many carbohydrate units in it was a problem for me at first. I like eating fruit. That’s basically the only thing that is a problem. I still eat fruit, but then I just have to choose what else I eat accordingly.

I sometimes eat a little more than usual, for instance if I am invited to dinner, at Christmas or when I bake with my grandchildren. I suppose that’s just something you have to live with.

I notice when I have low blood sugar. I start to feel ill. My mouth goes dry, I start to shake and feel weak. If that happens I know I have to eat something straight away.

I go for regular check-ups. They found out that I have nerve damage. My feet and legs itch and hurt at night, which makes it difficult for me to sleep. And my skin is very dry. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and have to put cream on my feet and legs below my knee, otherwise I can’t sleep.

Ten days ago I had a cataract removed from my left eye. My eyes are great now. One day after the operation I had an eye test done. They found out that my sight is twice as good as it used to be – I now have the eyes of a hawk!

I sometimes even inject myself in a restaurant

Nowadays I appreciate how important insulin is. At first I found it a bit annoying. Depending on where I was, I used to go to the bathroom to give myself injections. Now I sometimes even inconspicuously inject myself in a restaurant. Some restrooms aren’t particularly clean, so I prefer to receive an odd look every now and again.

I think you can lead quite a normal life with diabetes. It’s important to see everything with a bit of humor and not to make it the focus of your life. You should do everything you want to do. I’m quite an active person. My diabetes hasn’t changed much in terms of my daily activities and hobbies. I have a very good life.


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.