More diabetes clinics should be opened

Name: Börje Justrell
Age: 68
What: Has recently attended a diabetes clinic as a day patient for one week for his type 2 diabetes.

Portrait of Börje Justrell
Börje Justrell, photo: Rebecka Uhlin

As told to: Helena Mayer, first published in Swedish in Medicinsk Vetenskap No 2/2018.

“My disease crept up on me over a number of years; I was tired, thirsty and gained weight. The explanation arrived in 2003 when a routine check-up revealed that I had type 2 diabetes. However, simply by beginning to eat a low-carb diet, exercise and reduce my stress levels, I was able to avoid medication and I lost 18 kilos. At that time, it was difficult to find sugar-free foods, although the transition was still not too great as my family was used to adapting diets due to various allergies.

Around five years after my diagnosis I stepped on a nail and contracted blood poisoning. This worsened my diabetes and I was forced to begin taking tablets. After a couple more years, it became necessary to start injecting insulin, which made life more restrictive. I don’t think that this has led to any serious constraints on my life, although it has been a journey to accept and manage the disease.

As a diabetic, one is more prone to infection and recovery takes longer. Over the past six months, I have suffered from serious influenza which has left me unable to maintain my usual diet and exercise regime. It proved impossible to manage my blood sugar balance and in the end my GP referred me to a diabetes clinic. For an entire week, I met with specialists, physiotherapists, dieticians, podiatrists and psychotherapists among others, and learnt a great deal. The doctor adjusted my medication to excellent effect and I also discovered that I had been using the wrong technique to inject myself for all these years, the effect being different depending on where in the body and how one injects.

Instead of closing diabetes clinics, more should be opened. Imagine if I and other diabetics had access to diabetes specialists for care and training, instead of burdening already busy GPs; what human, medical and financial gains society would make!”

As told to: Helena Mayer, first published in Swedish in Medicinsk Vetenskap No 2/2018.