When Managing Multiple Health Conditions, “Take Control and Never Give Up”
For Peter Haswell, 59, from the Wirral in Merseyside, managing multiple health conditions requires organisation and perseverance.
He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1973, and later with asthma in 2005 after feeling his chest tighten up whilst out on a run. Whilst his diabetes took only 24 hours to be diagnosed, his asthma took 7 days.
Being Diagnosed with Diabetes
Peter experienced symptoms of increased thirst and extreme tiredness before being diagnosed with the least common form of diabetes, type 1. He has daily insulin injections, but even with controlled treatment he’s had medical emergencies.
“On several occasions at work my blood sugars have got too low and I’ve needed help to recover.”
His GP has always been supportive and knowledgeable, but he has received conflicting advice from others on how to manage his condition in the past.
“Advice has varied due to a lack of detailed knowledge from some medical staff about diabetes. For example, a low blood sugar level has to be treated quickly with a combination of quick and slow acting carbohydrates. This intake cannot go too high because then you start suffering from high blood sugar, which makes me feel appalling. You have to reduce the high blood sugar and bring it down to a more normal level, which isn’t easy.”
Although his doctors say there is no solid link, Peter feels that he is more prone to other illnesses because of having diabetes.
“Diabetes compromises the body’s immune system, increasing healing and recovery times and makes the body more susceptible to catching other diseases.
“I’ve always taken my doctor’s advice but advised him when I considered my condition was not improving.”
Staying Fit and Healthy
Peter takes numerous steps to lead a healthy lifestyle to combat his health conditions.
“I try to exercise regularly to a plan. I swim, cycle and run as a recreational triathlete.
“I’ve been taking part in triathlons for about twenty years since I saw my first one on television. I admired the athletes’ fitness levels so took an immediate interest. I’ve been training and competing ever since, and was even a member of the City of Chester Triathlon club, taking part in 30-40 races.
“As I’ve got older my exercise levels have reduced, although I am slowly increasing my exercise with the intention of competing again this year.”
Peter enjoys sport and notices the numerous positive effects on his overall health and conditions.
“The cardio doesn’t irritate my asthma, although there have been a few occasions when I have had trouble breathing. I have not had to use an inhaler though as a result of hard training.
“If I don’t stick with my exercise plan and become unfit, both conditions seem to deteriorate. As well as regular exercise, I try to keep a healthy and balanced diet.”
How it’s Affected his Life
Peter has to be very organised and diligent in managing his health conditions, with diabetes requiring near constant monitoring. New technologies and an increase in general knowledge of the condition have made it easier to manage but it’s still challenging.
“I have had type 1 diabetes for 42 years and now I use a pump to infuse insulin, which is an effective and efficient method. Before I was injecting myself several times a day for 37 years and this was often a very painful process.
“Good diabetic control can only be maintained if you know what your blood sugars are which requires pricking yourself to draw blood. I test my blood before I drive and every two hours during a journey, and at work I test my blood frequently. These processes are part of what is required for keeping control of the condition.”
As far as affecting family and daily life, Peter finds organisation is key.
“For safety I always advise people such as family, friends and colleagues about my condition and explain how to recognise and resolve low blood sugar levels. Insurance costs for driving and holidays are always higher as they often are for anyone with a medical condition.”
Although he always tries to keep a positive outlook, Peter does have bad days.
“I’ve tried to not let either condition affect my life but there are times when I feel very depressed due to never being able to “drop your guard”. I have to pick myself up though as the choices are somewhat limited!”
Staying Informed and Safe
Although advised about existing support groups for his condition, Peter did not feel the need to attend. He stays up-to-date on medical research and news for his conditions via a variety of internet sites and through his medical specialists.
“My GP and other specialists are much more knowledgeable now about my conditions.
Peter heard of medical ID jewellery whilst reading sports magazines and came across the ID Band Company online.
“I think it’s imperative to wear some form of ID when you have medical conditions.
“I’ve bought several products from the ID Band Company and they have always responded very quickly. The jewellery itself is well made, well priced and stylish.
“My wristbands are comfortable, easy to wear and they give me peace of mind knowing all the information is there should I have a medical emergency. I’d definitely recommend the ID Band Company to others.”
Thankfully, none of Peter’s family suffer from either of his conditions but he had some parting advice for others who do.
“Advice I’d give to other sufferers is to thoroughly research and understand your condition, treat it as the enemy, take control and never, ever give up.”