Alan was diagnosed with diabetes aged 22, when his partner was eight months pregnant and they had just bought a family home.
When I was diagnosed I really didn’t understand the importance of managing my condition. It came as a shock. My partner, who was heavily pregnant at the time, took me to the GP because I felt very thirsty. I kept waking her up in the night when I needed a drink. I had some blood taken in the morning and by lunchtime the GP was at my door with an ambulance.
I was admitted to my local hospital in Wolverhampton for a week, where my blood sugar levels were taken and staff injected me (with insulin). At the end of the week, I was given some insulin and syringes, but minimal information about my condition. I’d never injected myself before.
Me and my partner went out and bought every piece of material we could find about diabetes. That was my introduction to the condition.
We had a new born baby the following month, plus I had a busy job as a store manager and a mortgage to pay. I couldn’t juggle all that at 22 (years old), so something had to go on the back burner.
For the first five years, I didn’t manage my diabetes properly; I didn’t understand what the implications would be.
Now, I have problems with my eyes, feet, stomach. You name it. I’ve probably got every single complication related to diabetes, except that I’ve not got kidney failure.
If every person who participates in research can save one person in the future from going through what they went through, then it’s a positive experience.
I’d been involved in a lot of diabetes support groups across Manchester, but I first learned about Help Beat Diabetes when I was approached by a member of staff at the Manchester Diabetes Centre. I signed up to Help Beat Diabetes straight away, because I think it’s very important that research is done. If I can do my bit, then I’ll do my bit.
I’ve taken part in loads of studies. One of the studies I’m currently involved in is an insole pressure study at Trafford Hospitals. My experience of research has been great and, as a result of this study, the neuropathy in my feet is less – the numbness and burning/shooting pain has reduced. Researchers go out of their way to accommodate patients.
I sit on a few patient and public involvement panels as well, where I get to sit down talk to researchers about what they’re doing and what the possible outcomes of their research may be. It’s just amazing. I have a very high opinion of research.