Diabetes doctor gives Gayle the tools she needs to manage her type 2 diabetes


Gayle McFarquhar struggled to manage her diabetes for 34 years - regularly experiencing dangerous sugar level fluctuations. Now, with the support of a diabetes specialist and the Discovery Health Diabetes Care Programme, Gayle finally understands her condition and can manage it better.

For the first time in 34 years, Gayle McFarquhar (57) understands how to manage her diabetes type 2 properly after being referred to a diabetes specialist.

Gayle developed gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with her first child in 1988. "I used to eat a full packet of sweets at a time and was always running to the loo. That's when my doctor diagnosed me with diabetes. I did everything the doctor told me to do and my son was born healthy. Six weeks after his birth, the diabetes went away."

  • Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women without previously diagnosed diabetes who start to exhibit high blood glucose (sugar) levels for the first time during pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes.

"A few years later, just before I fell pregnant with my daughter, I picked up a lot of weight and was diagnosed with diabetes type 2."

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, type 2 diabetes - once called adult-onset diabetes - is a chronic condition. Here, the pancreas makes little or no insulin (the hormone the body uses to allow sugar to enter the cells to produce energy), and the cells are not very responsive to insulin and take in less sugar. Type 2 diabetes can begin during childhood or adulthood but is more common in older adults. There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but losing weight, eating well and exercising can help to manage the disease.

Gayle is referred to a diabetes specialist

After her diagnosis, Gayle was given medicine and a diet to follow. A few years later she started using fixed doses of insulin. "I really battle with my sugar levels - they fluctuate a lot. It's been a difficult road," says Gayle.

"More recently, we also went through some financial hardships, where we lost everything. As a result, I wasn't eating well. We lived on what we could afford to buy - a lot of pasta, and sandwiches or toast for breakfast and lunch. I struggled to control my weight."

In September, Gayle's GP referred her to a diabetes specialist. "She told me that my diabetes is difficult to manage and that I need to see a diabetologist."

"She explained diabetes to me in a way that really makes sense"

"The diabetologist has been amazing. No one has ever explained these things to me in the 34 years that I've been a diabetic."

"She explained my condition to me and how my medicine works in a way that really makes sense. She told me that the extreme sugar highs and lows are very dangerous. Our goal at this stage is just to keep my sugar levels as stable as possible. It's the first time since my diagnosis that I really understand how diabetes works and it's given me the tools to manage it much better."

"I am no longer on a fixed dose of insulin. The doctor has taught me how to count the carbohydrates that I eat and to inject insulin according to that amount. And she explained that I must inject the insulin 15 minutes before I eat. On weekends the wheels fall off a bit in terms of my eating. But my doctor has reassured me and said that I just need to try do this perfectly at least 70% of the time."

"I was also testing my glucose (sugar) levels six times a day - before and after each meal. Now I'm only testing early in the morning and after dinner, which saves time. This has been a learning curve for me but I am determined to get it right."

Gayle plans meals and gets support

"Being a diabetic does require lifestyle changes, not only for myself, but my whole family. My 27-year-old daughter usually cooks our meals and has changed the way she cooks to suit my needs. She also came with me to the doctor because she wanted to learn as much about my diabetes as possible. She's a huge help and support to me."

"I have to plan out my meals. I can't eat on the run like many other people do. So on Sundays I prepare the lunches that I'm going to take with me to work during the week."

Gayle, who works as an administrator at an automotive engineering business, has also had to make changes at work. "My job is very busy, and I work with customers throughout the day.

Thankfully, my boss has been understanding. They know that I can't skip lunch and that I must eat 15 minutes after I've taken my insulin, so my boss now takes over my duties while I eat."

Discovery Health covers everything related to Gayle's diabetes

"I am a Discovery Health Medical Scheme member and my medicine for diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) is covered because it's a prescribed minimum benefit. And my doctor registered me for the Diabetes Care Programme. The medical scheme covers so much for my diabetes. All my diabetes-related appointments are covered. They cover two eye tests and three doctor's visits per year. They'll pay for a heart examination and a consultation with a dietitian."

  • The Diabetes Care Programme, together with your Premier Plus GP, will help you actively manage your diabetes. The programme gives you access to various tools to monitor and manage your condition and helps you get high quality coordinated healthcare.

"My doctor has encouraged me to take advantage of these benefits, saying it's imperative for my health. She said that the only way we're going to know what's going on inside my body is if I go for the necessary tests and continue to measure my blood sugar levels."

"My doctor, along with the medical scheme, plus the support of my family and employer, has really given me the tools I need to control my diabetes better."

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