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Nurses make the difference

This month is World Diabetes Awareness Month and to raise awareness Diabetes Gibraltar has submitted this article to the Chronicle. World Diabetes Day lands on November 14 every year.

The theme for World Diabetes Day this year is ‘Nurses make the difference’ bringing to the fore the crucial role nurses play in supporting people living with Diabetes.

In Gibraltar, last year 2019 we had 2600 diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes patients. In 2020, as at the end of March there were over 3000. By now, there will be many more. The ticking timebomb we spoke about last year continues to tick louder and louder. We all know that unchecked Diabetes can lead to many complications; eyesight loss, heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, amputations etc.

But it is not all negative news, it is also possible to live a long healthy life with Diabetes, with the right support, knowledge, diet and tools, it is even possible to put Diabetes into remission.

That is why it is imperative that Diabetics have regular access to their Diabetic Nurses and supporting disciplines. The Type 2 Diabetic should have a check-up at least annually; feet, eyes, kidneys, blood pressure, cholesterol, dental, your AIC (which is your three-month average sugar reading) and an ECG.

Your Diabetes Nurse will arrange this for you and more regular reviews if you should need them. You should have access to a Dietician if required, to help you understand and control your diet.

Exercise is the key to good diabetic control. A half hour walk at least 3 times a week, more if possible, helps keep your sugars in check and there is the added benefit that exercise can help stabilise mood swings and alleviate depression often brought about by poorly controlled Diabetes.

During this year of Covid-19 and lockdown, support and exercise are more important than ever for the diabetic person. The stress of the lockdown can cause us to comfort eat and go for those sugary treats we gravitate towards when stressed. During the lockdown, Type 2 Diabetics in Gibraltar gained an average of 5 kilos and their average three-month sugar readings have deteriorated, showing poor control.

We cannot dwell on this, but we can improve. For those already diagnosed with Diabetes, please keep to your appointments, get your checks done, take your medication/insulin and get some fresh air, eat healthily, eat fresh, help yourself and take ownership of your disease.

There are many recipe books available online for good diabetes management where you will find a whole world of wonderful tasty meals and even greater desserts! Go for it, take up the challenge, experiment and get as much exercise as you can. Gibraltar is a gem, get out there and walk a little every day or at least 3 times a week. Join a class, yoga or cardio; and if you can't because of the lock down, there are local groups and individuals offering classes via social media. Check with your GP first.