Long Sutton mum with diabetes launches support groups to helps others
A mum-of-one who developed Type 1 diabetes completely out of the blue has launched peer support groups in South Holland to help others living with the condition.
Hayley Gedney (37) had been feeling unwell for around 18 months before finally going to the doctors where she was given the shock news that she had the lifelong condition.
“I’ve always looked after myself – exercised and followed a healthy diet, but I’d been feeling unwell for a while.
“I had recurring thrush for around six months, felt lethargic, I couldn’t quench my thirst and then I lost half a stone in two weeks. The symptoms had been building up and I just didn’t feel myself,” said Hayley, who lives in Long Sutton.
“Within 24 hours of going to the doctors I was in a hospital bed and on an insulin drip for three days while they tried to balance my sugar levels.
“Had I not gone to see someone I could have been in a coma three days later and no-one would have known what was wrong with me.”
That was two years ago and since her diagnosis Hayley has carried out lots of research into diabetes and learnt how to change her lifestyle to manage it.
She has Type 1, which means her blood glucose level is too high because her body can’t make a hormone called insulin. Everyone needs insulin –it allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies.
Around eight per cent of diabetics have Type 1, which usually manifests itself before the age of 40 and has no links to diet or exercise.
Type 2 diabetes is more common and occurs when the pancreas produces some insulin, but not enough for the body’s needs, or the body’s cells are resistant to it.
In many cases Type 2 can be reversed with lifestyle changes.
Hayley injects herself with insulin but follows a strict diet and exercise program called The Six Pack Revolution, which has helped her balance her blood sugar levels.
She also monitors her glucose through a Freestyle Libre patch, which worn on her arm allows her to track her levels through a phone app.
“Before I was diagnosed I was very much in control of my life, but then I lost control and didn’t know what I should be doing, things like how much exercise I could do without my levels dropping too low and going into a hypo,” she says.
“But I did lots of research and now I lead an even healthier and better lifestyle than before.
“I’ve re-educated myself about healthy eating, that’s not to say I don’t have the odd day off and now I want to help others.”
Thanks to her own experiences Hayley Gedney has teamed up with Diabetes UK and has launched peer support groups in Spalding and Long Sutton to help other diabetics and their carers live with the condition.
“I realised there are a lot of people out there who need extra support after their diagnosis,” said Hayley.
“I am only here as a volunteer to facilitate the groups and signpost people to other services such as community nurses who can also help them.
“The idea is for the meetings to be patient led - people can come along, ask questions, share their experiences, talk about their diabetes and we can work together to improve their condition.”
The sessions include member led discussions and guest speakers on a range of topics including getting active, eating well, managing medication and living with diabetes.
The next Spalding meeting is at Tonic Health, 6 Broadgate House, Westlode Street, at 6pm on June 7 while the next sessions at Long Sutton Market House are on June 14 at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.
For more information contact Hayley Gedney via email Southholland.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07939593957.
PANEL: Diabetes symptoms
* Feeling very thirsty
* Passing urine more often than usual, particularly at night
* Feeling very tired
* Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
* Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
* Blurred vision
For more information visit www.diabetes.org.uk
* 4.7 million people in the UK have diabetes
* One in 15 people has diabetes in the UK
* The number diagnosed has more than double in the last 20 years
* More than half of Type 2 cases could be prevented or delayed
* Obesity is responsible for 80 to 85 per cent of someone’s risk of developing Type 2
* The NHS spends at least £10billion a year on diabetes