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I will not let diabetes affect my job, says Home Secretary Theresa May

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Theresa May has spoken of her shock after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, but insisted it will not affect her demanding political career.

The Home Secretary was diagnosed with Type One diabetes two months ago and must now inject herself with insulin at least twice a day for the rest of her life, it's been revealed.

"The diabetes doesn't affect how I do the job or what I do. It's just part of life... so it's a case of head down and getting on with it," Mrs May said.

Ian Irvine from Coleraine knows what the Home Secretary is going through as he was 24 years old when he was diagnosed with the illness.

He said: "I live in East Anglia now and it was a loss of weight primarily.

"When I came home on Christmas Eve 2003, my sister who works in Coleraine hospital as a diabetic nurse suspected something was wrong and literally tested my blood on Christmas Eve and it was 10 or 11 times what it should have been.

"I was started on insulin the next day and it has been four times a day ever since then."

The 34-year-old works as a food inspector and admits at first it impacted badly on his life.

He said: "I was taking insulin four times a day, the fourth time which is at bedtime is a different type of insulin. But, because my work can sometimes take me through the night, it was quite scary, mainly because I didn't know if I should be taking it at the same time as driving, I drive a lot for work.

"But once I spoke to the doctor and other people who had it, it became apparent that it's easy to live with once your blood sugar levels become settled on the insulin."

Mr Irvine does not feel that his life has been restricted in the slightest.

Four years ago he married Rachel but initially lived alone with the illness.

He said: "It was quite scary because the doctors tell you that you can pass out or have hypos, they really did lay it on thick."

He continued: "You need to have a standard balanced diet.

"The only thing that is different is you avoid taking dessert for example after a meal, unless it's a one-off. Maybe once a week or something."

Ian advises Theresa May to take comfort in the knowledge that Type One diabetes is heavily researched.

He said: "As long as you take your insulin and monitor your blood often at first, that will give you a very good understanding of your symptoms.

"She will know when she is low and high on blood sugar and with that comes great confidence. Once you have that confidence in how you are feeling you really can live a normal life."

FACTFILE

A total of 75,837 adults aged over 17 in Northern Ireland have Type One or Type Two diabetes – a jump of 33% in five years. Some 1,088 children and young people under 17 are known to have Type One. An estimated 10,000 people have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed. Diabetes is on the increase worldwide. If not properly treated and managed, diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, blindness, amputation and kidney failure, but it is possible to lead a long and complication-free life with diabetes.

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