Abbott Freestyle Libre 2, Flash Glucose Monitoring, FSL2, Abbott Wellness Factory

20

LIVING

MY DIABETES KIT

VANESSA HAYDOCK

Vanessa Haydock has

been living for 25 years

with Type 1 diabetes.

Based near Preston in

Lancashire, she is a board certified

behaviour analyst (BCBA), a personal

trainer, and habit changer.

Diagnosed as a child, Haydock

remembers that parents helped her

out a lot and recalls, "My mum was

very organised, always giving me

snack boxes and coming into school

to give me an injection a lunchtime."

Then she hit her teens when she

became more independent but didn't

know anyone else with diabetes. She

experienced 'diabetes burnout', which

for her meant that she'd 'had enough';

she was lying to her family and

friends about her control and was

fundamentally in denial about having

the condition.

At the age of 18 she was told

that her eyes had developed

signs of diabetic retinopathy and

maculopathy. She says "I realised

I had to change. I started to test

my blood again, go back to carb

counting, and noted down what I ate

as well as my insulin doses. I could

then start to see patterns. I also

begin to talk about it more, finding

local groups which really helped me

to know that I was not alone."

In 2012, Haydock's HbA1c was

10%, now it's 5.4% and she's set up

her own business as The Diabetic

Health Coach, helping other people

with diabetes like herself, meet their

health and fitness goals. So, she made

changes back in her late teens and

has improved her control ever since.

"I certainly feel that finding peer

support has had a hugely positive

effect on me. I had to learn not to be

ashamed of my diabetes or to hide it,

and now it has given me my purpose

- to help and support others,"

says Haydock.

Having helped to run the peer

support section of Diabetes UK's

forum, that's where she first read

about the FreeStyle Libre. Now she

says, "The FreeStyle Libre sensor

has been very liberating, giving me

the ability to visually see my glucose

levels whenever I want. I definitely

believe in showing off my sensor -

why would I hide it, I love it!"

Even so, she's aware of the impact

diabetes has had on her mental

health, whereby she highlights, "I

would say that I suffer from anxiety

about my health. In the past I even

had panic attacks, as well as general

low mood due to having too high

or too low blood glucose levels.

However, I've found that wearing

a sensor really puts me at ease.

Diabetes is a huge part of my life, so

I try to focus on the positives - I'm

organised, disciplined, and motivated

to help others with diabetes to be

more health aware."

Coach works

So much so that she's opened her

own coaching business because she

knows what it's like to have diabetes

and the unique challenges it poses

when it comes to undertaking

exercise. "Living with diabetes is a

full-time job, no wonder we have

problems," she says, "But I do feel you

need to own your diabetes. I have

studied psychology at degree level

and a behaviour analyst myself, so I

know how important psychological

support is for those with diabetes

- after all life can be hard enough,

then throw in diabetes…. I'd say

that diabetes is nearly always on

my mind. You know, you can have a

day when you do everything right

and you can still end up with a high

blood glucose. At times as a teen, I

thought, what's the point? The fact is

that high readings punish all our hard

work. Things can be tough, but we all

need to work on healthy behaviours.

However, one size does not fit all ¬-

there's no 'silver bullet' that will fix

each of our problems, it's important

to find whatever works for you.

Personally, I don't think you should

overwhelm yourself by taking on too

much at once, it's better to make

small changes and take small steps."

While Haydock focuses on

coaching people with and without

diabetes, she estimates that about

90% of her clients do have it. Of the

questions Haydock is often queried

about, she says, "I'm often asked

about whether I follow a low-carb

diet, but I'm not a dietician. I mix

high-carb and low-carb meals as I

see fit, but it's important that it needs

to be something you can maintain

and which works for you -I was also

asked, what would you tell teenage

Vanessa? In response I wrote a letter

to my 16-year-old self, which is on

my website. Put simply, I said that in

the long run, diabetes has actually

made me really healthy and I'm happy

that I can now help other people

living with the same condition."

www.vhhealthcoaching.co.uk

Vanessa Haydock, BCBA, MSc, BSc

- The Diabetic Health Coach and

FreeStyle Libre Ambassador.

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