Stephen Blair was diagnosed with type two diabetes 18 months ago. Despite a long time living with gout, and numerous aches and pains from accidents, he was surprised at how serious this new disease was.
“It was unexpected. And I didn’t realize how big it was going to be. I have it in my family but I didn’t really think it would happen to me. I felt like I was being cursed.”
Because of his gout Stephen was already trying to live a healthier lifestyle. He didn’t smoke and he would try and eat healthy. But the new diagnosis spurred him to a greater effort.
When asked if he would like to take part in Tūranga Health’s Long Term Conditions education programme he jumped at the chance. “My frame of mind has always been to get rid of the diabetes so I said yes.”
Over the next two months Stephen found himself part of a weekly programme with 12 other participants. Each Wednesday morning Stephen and the others would learn more about their disease and how to manage it. The presentation on reading food labels and choosing the right foods to buy has really stuck with him.
“Oh yeah. I read the labels now. I look at the sugar content per 100g and if it’s more than 15g then I don’t get it.” He has also loved the camaraderie and company of the other participants. Stephen says much of his life was spent living in rural Motu and so he enjoys being around people. He now he lives in Ormond and can easily attend the programme.
Stephen was referred to the Long Term Conditions programme by Tūranga Health GP Mark Devcich. Stephen fell into the target group for the programme: men aged 51-65 with at least one long term condition.
Dr Devcich continues to monitor Stephen’s health with regular check-ups. Stephen also sees Tūranga Health nurse Lisa Cottle-Millar, with whom he credits for initially stepping him through his shock diagnosis. He says she helped him understand the ramifications of not doing anything, and showed him how easy it would be to make lifestyle changes.
Another important Tūranga Health staff member has been kaiāwhina Tangiwai Milner. Tangiwai is a little bit like a coach, someone who checks in on Stephen and doesn’t let him miss a medical appointment or any of his Long Term Condition programme presentations. “She’ll make sure I am going – she’ll even pick me up and take me there!”
Stephen’s progress has also been supported by Whānau Ora services. Tangible resources to help Stephen achieve his health goals include a water cooler system, food blender, an air oven, and a pair of good walking boots.
He is incredibly grateful for all the help and support he has received since his original diagnosis. Stephen has lost three kilograms in the past couple of months and is enthused about getting out into his garden and creating a vegetable patch. He is doing more exercise and just last week walked the Gisborne beach board walk.
“This is my new lifestyle. I know what the key messages are and I am going to get rid of the type two diabetes if I can.”
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