Sunday, 31 August 2014

DIABETES | Diagnosis & Biography

I was recently diagnosed as Stage-1 Type-2 Diabetic, which is also known as Pre-Diabetic and Borderline Diabetic. It's all the same, with a different name, so take your pick.  

I had been falling ill on a regular basis earlier this year, and it seems I was experiencing some of the Symptoms of Diabetes, including:

- Vertigo (Feeling dizzy - not a fear of heights. It was frequent and prolonged) 
-Weakened immune system*, which led to:  
*Swine flu (Gripe A) 
*Stubborn UTI/Bladder infection (which didn't budge, even with antibiotics - This infection is very common in people with diabetes)
-Fatigue - I was always yawning because I felt tired, and people would apologize for boring me
-Feeling sluggish in general 
-Frequent urinating, which led to interrupted sleep, insomina at night, and regular toilet breaks at work during the day.
-Constant thirst 
And more...

I didn't have all the symptoms in the picture below, but some people do.

 For weeks and weeks, I was constantly going to see my Doctor for the symptoms I listed above. He was prescribing medication, and giving me certificates to take time off from work - especially with the Swine flu and vertigo; but medication and rest weren't helping much, which was confusing and frustrating. I'm not usually a sickly person, so it was rough dealing with so many ailments, one straight after the other, and a few overlapping. 

Truth is, no amount of rest or medication was really going to help. Only discovering the root of the problem, and a change in diet was going to get me better. Apparently most pre-diabetics don't get any symptoms, (scary), so I guess I can count myself lucky that I did get symptoms.

After months of constantly falling ill, I was finally diagnosed by my Dr, almost by 'accident', on Tuesday 5th August 2014. - A date that no doubt has changed the course of my life forever.


A lot people ignorantly think that (what is now called) Pre-Diabetes isn't really diabetes and shouldn't be taken seriously. - Including some medical professionals. However, the fact is, that Pre-Diabetes, is how Type-2 Diabetes starts.

Nobody wakes up one day being diabetic all of a sudden. Diabetes doesn't just appear out of the blue. It's a gradual thing, and the sooner it is acknowledged and dealt with, the better. In fact, I am of the opinion that labeling this condition 'pre-diabetes' instead of 'Stage-1 Type-2 diabetes', is sugar-coating the truth. (No pun intended). A lot of people hear 'pre' and shrug it off as nothing, so they do nothing about it. 

That, my friend, is playing with fire. 
You see, Diabetes is a killer. - And a sneaky one at that! It is also the leading cause of blindness, amputation, and kidney problems, especially if left undiagnosed or untreated.

Diabetes is one of the top four killers worldwide, right next to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic lung disease. (Don't believe me? Click here to read this by the WHO). Diabetes kills more people than Breast Cancer and AIDS combined. There should be more education and awareness about diabetes. So here are some questions...

Why is there so little education about diabetes facts, and the dangers of over consuming refined-sugars? 

Could it be that there is too much money to loose if more people knew the truth about sugar and more people started to reduce their sugar intake?

It is also mind-boggling to see, how so many people think that diabetes in general is almost trivial. Many people will nonchalantly comment on how Diabetes is not a big deal, because there is medication to keep your diabetes under control. It's as if these people assume that the medication on its own is some sort of 'magic potion' that makes everything OK, thus belittling the seriousness of this disease. Yes, medication helps, but medication is not the be all and end all of diabetes-control and it's potential complications. It's not as simple as taking paracetamol for a headache, and feeling fine a little while later.

Statistically speaking, you are more likely to get Diabetes, than to be attacked/killed/raped in an alley way. Yet we all avoid the alley way, more than we take care of our diet, and keep a close eye on our health. How ironic is that?  


I am not undermining the genetic factors that play a role in who will or won't be diabetic, and over emphasizing the dietary and lifestyle choices that also influence who will or won't get diabetes. That said though, a healthy diabetic-friendly diet and lifestyle, is generally speaking, a healthy diet for (almost) everybody. 

Yes, genetics play an important role, but you can counteract that influence with healthy diet and lifestyle choices. I'm now a third generation 'diabetic'. (More on that below). That might make you wonder why I didn't start this journey sooner. Why didn't the switch go off sooner, pushing me to eat and live in a completely super healthy way? I don't know. But I do know that things happen exactly when they are supposed to, and we don't always see it or know the reason(s) why. 

A huge part of me doesn't regret my not making changes sooner. Those years were my growing years. They have been the years where I learnt a lot of positive things about myself. They have been priceless for me to take on this next chapter in my 'life-health-and-body journey' so bravely, and so seriously. But, that said, I have also been very lucky to have had symptoms early on, as well as an early diagnosis. Not everybody is that fortunate, and for some people the symptoms and the diagnosis, comes too late.

To say the elevated glucose levels in my bloodstream scared me, is an understatement. The more it sunk in, the more it freaked me out. Still, it was a relief to find out what was causing all of my problems. I also knew I could control this. I instantly made a conscious decision to take control and look at the bright side of what could have been a much worser case scenario, had more time gone by. 


My initial goals were:

- Lower glucose levels

- Make the symptoms of diabetes go away.

- Lower cholesterol.  

- Burn visceral fat.

Weight loss per se was not really in that list, because I know (and knew) that once I started to be stricter with my diet, any excess weight that my body doesn't need, would automatically come off. It was also important to me that if I did loose weight, it would be the loss of fat, and not muscle or just water. So aiming to simply become 'lighter on the scale' on its own, wasn't (and isn't) going to help me get healthier. Health isn't all about the number on the scale, or the size of your clothes.

I will elaborate more on that in my future post about my relationship with my body, and what being fat really means as opposed to all the fat myths and stereotypes that are floating around. For now though, I will say this. Fat itself, is not intrinsically bad, or dangerous. Some degree of 'excess' fat is actually considered to be healthy, and helpful in anti-aging. To decide if a persons fat is 'bad' or 'dangerous', you have to see how much fat there is on their body, where it is mostly concentrated, and how it influences the persons life, abilities, and emotional / psychological well-being.

The image below shows what the general recommendations are for PreDiabetics:

It's only been about three weeks, but it literally feels like years have gone by. My change in diet has resulted in drastic changes, and pretty much all of my diabetes symptoms have vanished. I've changed my diet drastically, as well as some habits. I feel like a completely different person.  

So far I have achieved everything I set out to achieve, plus some, in less than a month:

- It seems I've gotten my glucose levels down to 'normal' in under a month.

- My diabetes symptoms have cleared up.


- I have lost a whole stone in weight, which is almost 7 kilos, in less than a month. (That's the equivalent of seven packs of sugar)

- My sweet tooth seems to have died 

I can honestly say that these days, I'm not craving sugar, and that's something I never thought would happen. As for lowering my cholesterol, I'll have to see my Doctor to find out how that is going.


Type 2 Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes is a diagnosis I was half expecting one day, but not yet. Not at 31. 

You see, having Type 2 diabetes is common place on my mothers side of the family. My mother has Type 2 Diabetes. So did her father, and almost all, (if not all) of my mothers' aunts on her mothers side, also had it, although my grandmother was never diabetic. Yes, diabetes was in both my maternal grandparents families.

Only a few months ago, one of my first cousins, who had type-2 Diabetes, passed away. She had already had a leg amputated about a year before, thanks to her diabetes. If I'm not mistaken, my great-aunts on my grandmothers side, had had their legs amputated as well, thanks to their type-2 diabetes. 

Very recently, another relative of ours also passed away due to kidney problems, which were the direct result of complications with her type 2 diabetes. I don't know if she had had anything amputated, but I do know her diabetes led to her death. 

Luckily, my mother is still alive, and she hasn't had anything amputated, but she lives in fear of it. My mother was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes when I was about fifteen years old. She was diagnosed completely by accident, despite going to her GP several times, after she noticed she was urinating a lot more than usual. She had had a routine bloodtest, and was informed of her diagnosis with a short letter from her GP. Her glucose levels at the time were sky high, and I remember looking at the letter, and being absolutely petrified that my mother was about to die, and that I would end up an orphan. You see, my father passed away when I was three and a half years old, and I am an only child. I have no other immediate/close family.  

I knew nothing about diabetes at the time, except the stereotypes. It was 'sugar in the blood', people died from it like flies, it was something that ran in families, and all diabetics had to inject themselves with insulin everyday - or else they'd suddenly die. I also knew that my mother is petrified of needles, and I could see her not injecting herself because of her fear.  I would have injected her if it had come to that, and if someone told me how to. Part of me is a bit of a nurse, and I'm always taking care of other people's injuries and what not. But my mother is stubborn, and injecting her would have been a daily drama. I was only fifteen remember. In my head, diabetes was a definite death sentence, and I was about to become an orphan. I remember going to school that afternoon, and just crying my eyes out in class. My teacher tried to comfort me, and a classmate told that were lots of really sweet sugar-free sweets and chocolates for diabetics, and that everything was going to be OK.

Things I really didn't know at the time was that diabetes could influence a person's character and temper, (which explained a lot), and that all those sweet sugar-free alternatives, were really 'poison' - arguably worser than refined sugar. (But I'll go into why in a future post)

Luckily, there was good support and education available on the NHS, so together we found out more about diabetes and nutrition. At that time, I had no idea how valuable that knowledge would be to me about fifteen years later. At first it was hard and complicated, but through trial and error things became somewhat easier and clearer. As a type-2 diabetic, she didn't have to inject herself everyday to control her sugars. (Which was a relief to me). Instead, she had to take tablets and make changes to her diet.

About a year after her diagnosis, something traumatic happened to us, and her sugar levels went crazy. It made her go completely blind temporarily. It was a wake up call for her. These days, she is almost obsessive about her foot care and weight. After all that drama, you can understand her fear. - And mine too, I guess. 

Yet, the idea of one day becoming diabetic myself, was something that really didn't scare me before. I knew it could happen to me, (and no, I am not stupid or suicidal), it simply didn't frighten me. I kept being told by everybody that I had everything going against me. I have a huge genetic predisposition to the disease,  I am overweight (with an apple shape, - meaning I have a chubby tummy - not good for diabetics, apparently), and I'm not exactly runner up for Sports Personality of the Century over here. 

Despite all of that, I had never made a serious, long-lasting attempt to monitor and really lower my sugar intake until now. I had a sweet tooth and saw no serious reason to not indulge like my thin friends did. My weight has always yo-yoed, and it had been years since I had made a conscious effort to slim down. I grew to love and accept my body as it is, and even started my own plus size fashion blog. Dieting and aspiring to be thin were not a part of my life, and it felt liberating. Fact is, it is possible to be fat and perfectly healthy. I had known my family history since I was a teenager, but I was healthy at the time. So I promised myself, if I were ever to become diabetic, I'd deal with it then. In the meantime, I was going to enjoy life.

All that said though, if I ever picked up on any diabetes symptoms in myself, I always went straight to my Dr, and would ask for a blood test. - Just to be on the safe side.

Other than getting regular blood tests, I took the possibility that I might become diabetic in my stride. It wasn't that I didn't care. I just wasn't worried about something that hadn't happened. Something that was speculation and might never actually happen. Not every overweight person will get diabetes. Besides, as they say, worrying about something that hasn't happened is like carrying an open umbrella around, waiting to see if it will rain. There's no point. 


My diagnosis however, changed everything. Something clicked and my desires and my behaviors changed. Diabetes was no longer a shadow that might one day come knocking on my door. Diabetes was now very real, and it was letting itself in. I wanted it out, more than anything else in the world. As soon as I walked out of my Doctor's office, I was a different person.  I never again drank anything other than water. I drastically reduced my carb intake. I stopped eating refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners. I began taking the stairs instead of the lift. Walking instead of catching the bus. Going uphill without allowing myself to stop.

The only thing that my Doctor told me, was that my sugar levels were high, and I should try to get them down. He didn't say anything else. He knows my family history, and didn't give me any dietary advice - I assume he assumed I knew what to do. He did not tell me to loose weight.

My current Doctor has never told me to loose weight. Whenever I go in with an ailment, he takes it seriously, and handles my ailment. My weight is never mentioned.   Some of you (who know me from my fashion blog), might think I'm not big enough for my Doctor to make a fuss about my weight. Trust me, I am very overweight. 30-40 kilos / 100 lbs / 5-7 stones overweight to put it more into perspective for you. If I look smaller than I am, (which everyone says I do), it's because I'm tall, fairly well proportioned (especially for an apple shape), and I tend to wear things that are mostly 'flattering'. I don't have cellulite, stretchmarks, 'saggy skin', or much wobble, which again creates the illusion of a smaller body. (That's all genetics btw)

I always said I'd make changes if my health took a turn for the worse. I ate a very healthy diet growing up, and I was never sickly for most of life. I'd never had to deal with much more than a common cold. The worst thing that ever happened to me, was when I mysteriously caught meningitis at university, and had to be in hospital for two weeks. Other than that, I've been pretty healthy and strong at every weight for as long as I can remember.

As I said, I have had numerous blood tests to check my glucose levels over the years, and they had always come back at normal healthy levels. It reaffirmed to me, that Diabetes wouldn't be something I'd have to deal with, at least until I got much older - if ever. That was also probably why my Dr didn't think to check my glucose levels this year, until now.

My diagnosis happened by accident. I went to see my Dr towards the end of July of this year, to request a blood test to check my thyroid. (I have cousins on both sides who have thyroid problems). I had suddenly gained a whopping 10 kilos in less than two weeks at the end of July, as well as some other symptoms, and I could really feel the extra weight on my body. It began to feel uncomfortable, and I was baffled as to how it had happened. I wanted to check everything was OK before I did anything to try and loose a bit of weight. My Dr was away, so I saw a different Dr. I told her all my symptoms and requested a blood test. She made it her business to check everything, not just my thyroid, and God bless her for it! My thyroid came back fine. It was just my sugars (and cholesterol) that came back elevated. 

I guess I'll never know exactly how I put on those ten kilos, but since I've made my changes under a month ago, they're almost completely gone, and it seems I've lowered my glucose to normal levels. This isn't the end of my battle though. It doesn't mean I'm 'cured'.  I will still have to get regular checks to see if there are any changes, and continue to nourish my body better to keep in the best condition possible.

As someone who has a strong sense of faith, I believe that this diagnosis is a blessing in disguise. It's a definite warning, instead of speculation. A wake-up call. I see it as an opportunity. I am on time to try my best to fix this. I can do my best to reverse my high glucose count to a healthy one; and delay, or maybe even completely put off, type-2 Diabetes.  

I felt so poorly. I don't want to know how terrible it would have gone on to feel, had I not been diagnosed, and would have continued getting worse. In any case, I won't dwell on what could have been. Instead, I'm focusing on what is and what I can do to avoid that.

Going to the supermarket since the day I got the blood test results back, takes longer; because I am scrutinizing the list of ingredients on everything I pick up before deciding if I should put it in my basket, or not. There are hidden sugars everywhere, even where you'd least expect to find them. Personally, I believe refined sugar needs to be much closely regulated, if not 'ilegal'. 


In future, I will do a whole post about the dangers of sugar in general, and it's moral and ethical problems as an industry. I'm not going to delve into that in this post, because I want this to be an in depth 'Get To Know Me' post. 

I want you to understand that I am not here to preach, or dictate. I am not an authority over anybody other than myself. We are all free to make choices about our life, our health, and our body. I am just an ordinary girl, making what I consider to be better choices for my life, to improve my health, - and I know that I am not alone in this predicament.

My future posts will be:



MY BODY IMAGE (and being fat)


(Inc week by week diet-photo-diaries)

I'm sure lots of girls out there will be able to relate to at least part of my body-image story. I think that if I hadn't been through everything I have been through, I might not be as determined as I am right now, to get my health back.

Before you embark on any life changing journey which could result in you changing your weight, I believe it is of the utmost importance to truly love yourself unconditionally, just as you are

Self-love and self respect are the foundation for anything that is destined to be a long-lasting and successful positive change in our lives. 
I see my body as my home and vehicle which get me through life. It is my responsibility to take the best care possible of it and to love it for what it can do. Why poison it, or cause harm to it? Why not try my best to fix it when something goes wrong?

Love yourself, stay healthy, and stay blessed! 

Please remember to 




x o x 


  1. I can relate to so much of this. I also feel like my doctors are letting me down. I know something is off and I don't care what their little tests say. I have the symptoms. I have the family history. I guess it's up to me to look after myself. The healthcare system in this country is so broken.

    1. I was experiencing symptoms before I got a diagnosis, so I understand, but, honestly, don't worry, as worrying can make things worse. Stay calm, and take as much good care of yourself as you can. xox