Taking control on the verge of death
Karen Turner didn’t realise the damage her unhealthy eating habits were having on her body.
Exhausted from her full-time commercial cleaning shifts, she would be too knackered to cook herself a decent meal and would eat whatever was around the house or order takeaways.
Then, one morning, the Upper Hutt mother of one woke to blurriness and darkness.
She had lost enough of her vision that she couldn’t make out the trees outside her bedroom window.
‘‘Honestly, the only thing that woke me up was losing some of my vision,’’ Turner said.
Before the partial blindness, Turner was constantly tired, overhydrating, getting headaches, and feeling pins and needles in her hands and feet.
A GP visit resulted in a blood test, and an immediate call back when the reason for her struggles became apparent.
‘‘He said I needed to stop what I was doing, that I was at risk of dropping dead, looking at early stages of liver and kidney failure.
‘‘I couldn’t let my little girl grow up without a mother, especially over something that I have complete control of.’’
She weighed 99kg, and the doctor diagnosed the 38-year-old with Type 2 diabetes.
She was put on Metformin to try and control her blood sugars – her glycated haemoglobin (HbA1C) level was twice as high as an average adult.
A diabetes nurse specialist mentioned Jumpstart - Wellington region’s first programme designed to help people with Type 1 or 2 diabetes, or those at risk of developing diabetes, to manage their health.
Turner committed herself to the programme’s 10-week course, taking in its lessons on exercise and nutrition. Attending the local YMCA gym and being more aware of ingredients and portion control, Turner has since lost 9kg, 10cm around her hips and has no eyesight problems.
Her sugars are now at a normal level and she’s slowly being weaned off Metformin.
‘‘Diabetes doesn’t discriminate and for me I needed to change my life drastically.
‘‘I now realise how stupid I was not to realise I was in trouble.
‘‘To turn it around, thanks to the programme and the YMCA trainers, I’m now in a much better place.
‘‘And I have more energy for my family.’’
Type 2 diabetes sufferer Karen Turner decided she couldn’t let her daughter grow up without a mother.