Elaine Watson shares her experiences living with Type 2 diabetes.
Elaine Watson shares her experiences living with Type 2 diabetes. Chris Ison ROK090717cdiabetes1

Thousands of Rocky locals don't know they're living with this disease

A SHOCK diagnosis 40 years ago left Elaine Watson in fear her life was over.

The now 81-year-old has suffered one suspected heart attack, had another con- firmed and lost three toes to type 2 diabetes since 1987.

Elaine is among the 6769 people in the Rockhampton region diagnosed with T2 diabetes, but an astounding 3350 people in the area have the disease and don't know it yet.

Elaine, a passionate singer, said she has lived a rich life, but admits her busy work, lifestyle and family commitments hampered an early diagnosis.

A heart attack in 2003 was a "wake-up call”; she had stopped following doctor's orders after initially losing 25kg while aged in her 40s.

Another blow came when a small scratch on her foot during the Cyclone Marcia clean-up turned into a staph infection. She has since lost three toes.

Elaine now warns others to act on the early warning signs, and follow doctor's orders.

"It's hard to make people understand how important it is... they don't realise it's diabetes, but if you have symptoms get to your doctor straight away,” she said.

"If you are diagnosed, do what you have to do, eat your regular healthy meals, exercise.”

Elaine shared her story as National Diabetes Week kicked off yesterday.

The campaign will also raise awareness about the sudden onset of type 1 diabetes and the danger that may result if diagnosis is delayed.

Diabetes Queensland CEO, adjunct associate professor Michelle Trute, warned T2 diabetes can remain hidden for 10 or more years.

"Anyone can develop diabetes and you don't have to be old or overweight,” Ms Trute said.

"Your future depends on finding out if you're one of the 3350 (people undiagnosed).”

There are about 7600 people, or about 5.9% of the Rockhampton population with all types of diabetes, and 6769 people have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

These figures are higher than the national average of 5.1% of the population with diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include passing urine more often, especially at night; increased thirst; extreme tiredness; unexplained weight loss; slow healing of cuts and wounds; blurred vision.

Diabetes Queensland advise in almost 60% of cases, being informed about your risk of T2 diabetes lets you slow its advance.

Early diagnosis can prevent the onset of serious diabetes-related complications that might otherwise lead to a heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney disease or limb amputations.

"While you're doing your best to ignore symptoms and thinking you'll deal with it when you have to, the imbalance of glucose in your bloodstream is affecting your arteries, heart, kidneys and most other organs in your body,” Ms Tute said.

BUSTING DIABETES MYTHS:

  • T1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that can develop at any age and cannot be prevented. It needs to be diagnosed quickly and requires lifelong daily insulin injections.
  • T2 diabetes is related to lifestyle factors in 60% of cases, but 40% could not have prevented it. Once developed it is a lifelong condition, which can sometimes be managed by healthy eating and exercise.


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