A WOMAN from Romsey has spoken about when she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, as free help is offered across Hampshire.

Diabetes UK is running free online peer support sessions next month for people living with the condition.

The sessions are open for those who have been newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for many years and are designed to help people share their experiences and to offer a safe space to discuss issues such as care, treatment and diet.

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Tracy Pollard was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2019 and she recently attended one of the peer support sessions.

She said: “My diagnosis came as a big shock. At 48 I didn’t immediately think of diabetes when I displayed symptoms. I thought it may be the start of the menopause as the symptoms were similar so when I got the diabetes diagnosis from the GP it was a total thunder bolt.

“I really didn’t know what to do. The Diabetes UK website was a helpful guide. I lost two stone over the course of six months by cutting down on carbs and sugar. I had never been into junk food but I educated myself on the condition and made some tweaks to my diet like cutting down on bread which really helped – and now I feel much better for it.”

Starting in early February, the sessions will be facilitated by Caroline Walker, engagement officer at the charity, who also lives with Type 1 diabetes.

The sessions will run for a total of six weeks.

Closed sessions are confidential and separate sessions will be available for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Tracy continued: “I recently joined Diabetes UK’s peer support sessions and found it so helpful to talk to people locally who were going through the same thing as me.

“Sharing experiences and information was of real value and I really encourage anyone newly diagnosed to attend the sessions to help overcome the shock of a diagnosis and talk to like-minded people. It’s a safe place to come together and learn more about the condition. It could be the best hour of the week you spend.”

In the UK, there are an estimated 4.9 million people living with diabetes, which is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood. Symptoms include using the toilet more than usual, particularly at night, feeling thirsty, blurred vision and feeling unusually tired.

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Jill Steaton, regional head in the southeast at Diabetes UK, said: “We know that managing diabetes can be overwhelming for some and these peer support sessions are a way of bringing people with similar experiences together during what’s been a difficult time for so many. We have had great feedback from people who have attended in the past so please do get in touch if you’re interested in joining these valuable sessions.”

For more email caroline.walker@diabetes.org.uk.

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