Life with diabetes

Living with diabetes can be difficult, but you shouldn’t need to put your life on hold. Here are stories from people who have learnt to adjust to life with the condition.

Kayleigh Steel

Stigma and misconceptions

In early 2020 I was offered a place on DESMOND, a diabetes education course, but then we went into lockdown. There was an online option for DESMOND, but I didn’t feel like that was what I needed at the time.  

One year later, I returned to my nurse for a check-up, who told me, “You’re very young to have type 2 diabetes.” And that’s pretty much what every healthcare provider has told me. I’ve had other people assume that I have type 1 diabetes because of my age, and I’ve been asked, “Did you eat a lot of chocolate?” when I’ve felt the courage to share my diagnosis.  

When I had prediabetes, I was aware that my nan had it, but I too bought into the misconception that it was an older person’s condition. I have since learned that four generations of my family had received diagnoses of type 2 diabetes.  

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Sam Dottin


Until recently, I never really engaged with any services for diabetes. I didn’t have any symptoms and I didn’t really take it seriously. But I had experienced a bereavement during the pandemic, and some time afterwards I realised I wanted to take living with diabetes more seriously.  

Then in 2021 I joined Diabetes UK, and I developed a better understanding of what things I can do to manage my health, and how to say no to certain food that affects my blood sugar levels.  

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Katie Lamb's story

Managing independently

Because I was diagnosed so young, diabetes just became another thing I had to do. At school I thought it made me cool and unique, and my friends had the same attitude, which gave me a really positive start. I was never ashamed of it. My teachers were really supportive too.

I currently use the Dexcom G6 (since January) and the t:Slim X2 insulin pump, which I’ve used for 11 years. It’s taken a lot to give control to the pump, but it does a good job. It takes away some of the burden. I’m very grateful for sleep mode, and the diabetes tech that’s been available for me.

I had the same paediatric nurse until I was 19 and had a great relationship with her and the rest of my team. But when I hit my late teenage years, making the transition to adults, leaving school to move to university, and taking more responsibility it all hit me.

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Trying to stay on track

After I’d finished the prevention course, I was referred back to the GP to have another test for prediabetes. I found out I was out of the prediabetic range. And I was really pleased and my husband was really pleased, so it felt like a big achievement. But maintaining it afterwards I’ve found quite difficult. 

The doctor told me I was only just out of the prediabetic range, so I still had to be really careful. 

And now the prevention course has finished, my regular check ins and phone calls have stopped, I’ve felt like there’s no one to keep me on track. There isn’t that motivation in getting a good result in my weight each month. 

And I’m finding the gym quite hard to keep up with as I don’t have the car as much as I used to so I can’t get to the half-hour lunchtime exercise classes that I used to enjoy. And my weight has started to go up again.

Finding the time for the classes is hard as there’s no time in the evening. My son gets picked up from after school club, then it’s homework, dinner, bedtime, a little bit of time for us to relax before we start all over again.

I’ve only just recently told my mum about being at risk of type 2 diabetes. I wanted to get my blood sugar levels back to a normal range before I told her. I didn’t want her to worry. Now that I feel like there’s always going to be that risk it was important to tell her. Perhaps she’ll stop putting butter on my chapatis now!

If you want help to make lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes, our trained advisors on our helpline are here to support you. Call 0345 123 2399. 

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Hannah, a Caucasian lady with red hair and glasses, smiling towards camera

Hannah BerryDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 26

Moving forwards

Hannah now has Trulicity injections and has managed to lose a stone in weight. This has had a positive impact on her mental health.

“I’ve learnt that moving forward is often about taking baby steps, cutting down on sugar in small steps, setting up reminders so I don’t forget to take my medication. All these things add up. You’re going to slip up every now and again but it’s not the end of the world. You just need to get back on the wagon.”

As someone who struggled in the early stages of her diagnosis because she felt she had nobody of her own age to speak to, Hannah is hoping to reach out to others in her position locally in 2023.

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