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Why I’m proud to be a Diabetic-by Stephen Dixon(Sky News Presenter)

In the Express today is an article by Stephen Dixon the Sky News presenter who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 17.

This is the extract from the Article:

“NOTHING winds me up more than diabetics moaning on about ill health. Whether they have to take injections or infusions of insulin or have the more common type that is linked to age and being overweight, they should stop whingeing and start taking some responsibility.

Diabetes costs the UK billions of pounds and most of that is spent on dealing with secondary complications such as eye problems or nerve damage. In the not too distant past these were partly unavoidable but that has changed.

For healthy people the body produces exactly enough insulin to deal with the amount of carbohydrate eaten and the subsequent glucose produced. Diabetics either don’t produce enough insulin (this is Type 2 or “late onset” diabetes) or they don’t produce any and have to inject the hormone (Type 1).

Through knowing how to count carbohydrates and monitor our blood glucose we can balance that out which means our bodies act more in the way they are supposed to. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise we can be as healthy as anybody else.

I’ve had my ups and downs over the years but mostly I’ve enjoyed good health and good diabetes control. A great deal of this is down to getting to grips with the condition, embracing it and trying to enjoy being diabetic. You might think that sounds mad but how else would I have been able to properly focus on my body, diet and fitness?

I’ve been Type 1 since I was 17 (I’m now 37). Throughout my formative years I injected myself five times a day although more recently I’ve switched to using a pump-type device. My Accu-Chek Combo insulin pump acts like an artificial pancreas, the endocrine organ that produces insulin.

It is attached to the body by a very thin tube on to a cannula inserted into your stomach and sticks there like a plaster. I change it every three days. It’s very easy to do and takes only a few seconds.

The pump then delivers a tiny dose of insulin every three minutes. I use the pump to counteract the carbohydrate in every meal and set that dose to be delivered over a few hours so I get the insulin as I am digesting my food. All this helps give me a much more balanced blood glucose level.

People always have concerns about being attached to a device but it really isn’t an issue. In fact I’ve grown to cherish my pump as I rely on it to keep me well.

I can disconnect it from the cannula for periods of time which is perfect for having a bath or shower, going for a swim and of course for being intimate. So it doesn’t get in the way.

On top of such amazing technology we always have to remember the care given by diabetes specialist nurses up and down the country which can be superb. Not everyone is as lucky as I am but there’s an easy way to tell if you’re getting the care you deserve. Your nurse should listen to you as much as advise you as every patient is different. Of course they can’t do either if you don’t turn up for your annual or biannual checks so you’ve no one else to blame if you can’t be bothered to attend.

Too many diabetics don’t listen to medical advice or choose to ignore it and then come running when they develop avoidable complications. Of course our NHS doesn’t then turn them away but has to meet this extra burden.

I know life can be a struggle when dealing with diabetes and temptation is hard to resist but if we can’t be bothered to look after ourselves why should anybody else care about our health?

I have been as guilty as anyone else in neglecting my health on occasions. At 21 I ended up in hospital just after I started work at ITN as producer of the ITV Morning News. I’d never worked through the night before, so rather stupidly I didn’t bother to take my long-acting insulin injection.

I was busy and a little nervous about my new job so it just slipped my mind. Within 12 hours I was vomiting violently and lost a lot of weight as my body had digested all my body fat and had started to digest muscle as well. I had gone into ketoacidosis which means my blood had become acidic. I was rushed to Accident and Emergency and treated very well but had to be kept in for several weeks. I was told that on admission I was just a couple of hours from dying. For me this was a serious wake-up call.

I’ve learnt from my mistakes and gone from being someone who had good control to someone who has excellent control. That’s not me being smug it’s something which every diabetic can and should do.

When I talk at diabetic groups across the country I always make a point of saying that I am not a “victim” of diabetes: I cringe when I hear people say that.

I am proud of being a diabetic and that is one of the reasons why I’m an ambassador for Diabetes UK. It is a key part of my life and my identity and it is something I embrace and own. It has given me focus, responsibility and incredible access to healthcare professionals.

We need to take responsibility for our own health and take guidance and help when we really need it.

Let those dedicated hospital staff deal with people who need urgent help and we can manage ourselves on a day-to-day basis leading healthier, happier and longer lives. For more information on managing diabetes call 0845 120 2960 or visit”

The article can be found on the Express website.