Diabetes Type 2

Helen - Interview 09

Age at interview: 63
Age at diagnosis: 60

Brief outline: Helen was diagnosed three years ago. She is currently controlling her diabetes with a low dosage of gliclazide + diet and exercise regime.

Background: Helen is a retired head teacher and is married with 2 adult children aged 39 and 42. Ethnic background/Nationality: White Scottish.

Audio & video

Helen had none of the classic symptoms of type 2 diabetes, so the diagnosis was a big shock. She had been under a lot of pressure as a head teacher, was also looking after her own family and her elderly parents. She had been feeling tired and was frequently emotional. Her main complaint though was an itchy, burning sensation in her thumb and occasionally itchy feet, which she thought might be the beginnings of Parkinson's disease - which is in her family. She didn't feel especially thirsty, nor did she need the toilet any more than she always had, so when her blood tests showed high blood glucose levels, she and her doctor were surprised.

Once she realised she had diabetes, Helen drastically altered her diet and started exercising more. She lost some weight (despite not having much to lose) but the regimen proved unsustainable and the doctor advised her not to lose any more weight. She was prescribed gliclazide which seemed to make her mouth very dry and painful ('as if my teeth were being drawn out'). When she could endure it no longer, she told the GP who prescribed metformin instead. Metformin however gave her bowel problems, so she restarted gliclazide, but this time she re-examined her diet and exercise regimen and changed it a bit so that she ate a bit more, and things finally began to settle down. 

Helen is now on only on half a tablet of gliclazide each day and has found a way to counter the dryness in her mouth. She eats a lot of vegetables, more pulses and less red meat. She also walks regularly, and now that she has retired she feels more relaxed. Her husband has been a huge source of support for her throughout, and she feels that her life is now well balanced.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to healthtalk.org

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email