Surjeet's story

Surjeet Soin believes that being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was a blessing in disguise. The lifestyle changes he made as a result mean that he now feels healthier than he did as a 25-year-old. Surjeet shares his story in his own words.

I knew there was something wrong with my body as the symptoms of my diabetes were very typical: I had to get up in the middle of the night to urinate and my vision also became blurred. It didn't come as a shock to me. But when I had a bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. test done it was a shocking result - my results were 32 mmol/lMillimoles per litre - units of the amount of substance present. and I could have gone into a coma.

The first thing I did about 6 months after I was diagnosed was to give up alcohol totally. Then I started doing a lot of walking and gardening. I regularly walk anything from 5 to 30 miles a week. I have also done a lot of trekking.

I am 65 years old and it is just coming up to 15 years since I was diagnosed. For the five years prior to being diagnosed I was not doing much activity and I was probably a little overweight. Also, I was probably drinking a little too much and overeating a bit. I used to work hard in the office, sometimes up to 13 hours a day, and when I came home I used to feel lethargic. The first thing you tend to do is sit down in front of the TV and have a pint of beer.

My doctor confirmed that I had diabetes and he prescribed tolbutamide - half a tablet to be taken in the morning and the other half in the evening. I continued taking the tablets for 2 years, but then my HbA1cAn abbreviation for glycated haemoglobin, a measure of how well glucose levels have been controlled over the previous three months or so in a person with diabetes. It is expressed as a percentage. levels increased slightly so I started taking two tolbutamide tablets a day. That lasted for about 12 years.

In the meantime I started to make some changes in my lifestyle. The first thing I did about 6 months after I was diagnosed was to give up alcohol totally. I haven't had alcohol for nearly 14 years now. Then I started doing a lot of walking and gardening. I regularly walk anything from 5 to 30 miles a week. I have also done a lot of trekking. I've been to Everest base camp to raise money for Diabetes UK, where we went to an altitude of nearly 19,000 feet. I've also been to the Andes in Ecuador, again at nearly 19,000 feet, and I've trekked in the Yorkshire Dales three times to the three peaks.

Being active has helped me tremendously. First, to take control of my diabetes - my bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. sugar levels are pretty good - but also, I've maintained my HbA1cAn abbreviation for glycated haemoglobin, a measure of how well glucose levels have been controlled over the previous three months or so in a person with diabetes. It is expressed as a percentage. level under 7 for the past 8 or 9 years and my blood pressure is normal. In addition, my cholesterolA substance present in many tissues and an important constituent of cell membranes although high concentrations of a certain type of cholesterol in the blood are unhealthy. is under 4mmol/l.

I've accepted the fact that I've got this condition and I'm going to live with it.  I never say, 'Oh, why me?' I am always very positive about the whole thing. I live my life actively and I feel good in my body.

When I was diagnosed, my weight was about 80kg (12.5 stone). I've kept my weight at just over 60kg (10 stone) for the past 10 years or so. I never overeat now. My breakfast is always porridge, a piece of toast and half a banana and at lunchtime I have a salad or the odd sandwich. I eat only one chapatti for my evening meal and I don't take any sweets.

After taking tolbutamide for 12 years my HbA1cAn abbreviation for glycated haemoglobin, a measure of how well glucose levels have been controlled over the previous three months or so in a person with diabetes. It is expressed as a percentage. levels were slightly raised, so my practice nurse said I had to change to different tablets called gliclazide and I have been taking these for 2 years now. I have never had cholesterolA substance present in many tissues and an important constituent of cell membranes although high concentrations of a certain type of cholesterol in the blood are unhealthy. problems, but experts advise all diabetics to take statinsA class of drugs that inhibit cholesterol formation in the liver. so I have been taking one - simvastatin - for 2 years.

I've accepted the fact that I've got this condition and I'm going to live with it.  I never say, 'Oh, why me?' I am always very positive about the whole thing. I live my life actively and I feel good in my body. Today, I consider honestly and truthfully that it was a blessing in disguise for me. If I hadn't been diagnosed, I would have carried on with the same kind of lifestyle as I did 15 years ago. Healthwise, I feel in better shape than even a 25-year-old.

I live with the fact that I've got a progressive condition; it's not going to disappear overnight. There are complications of diabetes and it can lead to eye, heart and feet problems, as well as a stroke. One of these days the doctor will probably say, 'I'm sorry Mr Soin, you'll have to go on insulinA hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that acts to lower blood glucose levels.', and I will accept that.