My diabetes kit Lee Calladine

My Diabetes Kit Lee Calladine

Lee Calladine (in red) takes a leap of faith!

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on his 33rd birthday, Lee Calladine’s life changed totally on that day. He not only lives with diabetes but works in diabetes care as part of the UK branch of the Diabetes Wellness & Research Foundation (DRWF) which is committed to raising funds for research into a cure for Type 1 diabetes but also for the purpose of education of patients who have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

“It’s different for everyone, but I had a fast onset. Felt fine then suddenly I had a sore throat and was very thirsty. I was at my cousins and he said, ‘you’re drinking like a fish, what’s wrong with you?’ Two weeks later I was in a worse state. I’d lost three stone, was still thirsty and going to the loo all the time. I was convinced I just had a virus but a friend who is a nurse told me to get to the doctors. He did a blood test and said, ‘that’s clearly diabetes’ and sent me straight to the local hospital, the Queen Alexander in Portsmouth where I met the diabetes time for the first time.”

Lee C 2

Lee with his Desang Classic kitbag (and all the kit he keeps in it).

Calladine was given and meter and some information, but looking back in it he says, “This was 14 years ago. People get a lot more information now than I did then. I felt rather scared and more than a little vulnerable. I was given a blood test meter and did a lot of testing to start with. But I wasn’t told things like to shake the insulin pen of long-acting insulin so that it was properly mixed. Initially I was scared to eat anything. It was hard.”

Today, things are different. “Now I get asked to help people who are newly diagnosed and I can help them.” Calladine works full time at DRWF and has now been there for ten years. He says, “I’d just left my job in the hotel trade and went to the local job centre, and Sarah Bone, Chief Executive at DRWF, had just posted the job 20 minutes earlier. I already had a background in events management in the hotel trade and prior to that I’d been a chef. So it’s all worked out quite nicely. I love what I do and I’ve never looked back.”

Focus on the future
The charity sends out a newsletter, arranges events and education days. He explains, “We focus on raising funding for medical research and a cure will come, but in the meantime we have to look after ourselves. Our strapline is, Staying Well Until a Cure is Found, which says it all.”

As for his diabetes kit, Calladine is still on multiple daily injections (MDI) although he’s done a pump course at his local hospital. “It was called Jigsaw and was like an intensive DAFNE course. Our meters were blue-toothed up on screen and we shared and discussed our results with the other people on the course. It took place over a few days and included a year of follow-up consultations. But I was doing OK on MDI and felt there was no need to go on the pump at that time. But there’s been progress on pumps since then so I might reconsider.”

02 Scan Icon FreeStyle Libre 6.2mmol TAGU GBEN

Lee’s keen to try the FreeStyle Libre.

And as for that new-fangled CGM (continuous glucose monitoring), he’s tried that too. “I’ve had a few trials which have been useful for greater insights as to my control. I’ve not tried the FreeStyle Libre yet, but I am going to and I can’t wait. It sounds like a brilliant back up for when you’re not in your normal routine so it seems like a good idea to me, and not that expensive, relatively speaking as you’d use far fewer blood test strips and lancets.”

Daily back up
On a daily basis Calladine relies on two things – his Desang Classic kitbag and his Accu-Chek Expert blood test meter. “I keep all my kit in my kitbag. I’ve had the Expert meter about three years. It’s been great, especially for helping me figure out corrective doses. My kitbag goes everywhere with me, to work, out-and-about, holidays, diabetes clinic and GP appointments. I’ve recently had a spell in hospital and had a few operations so I used my meter and kitbag a lot.”

Accu-Chek Aviva Expert (gold)

An Accu-Chek expert meter

The kitbag has become something that the people around him understand is part of his diabetes control. “All the doctors and nurses knew what it was by the end; they knew that’s where they’d find my blood test kit and my insulin,” he recalls, “Basically I’m never without it. It’s brilliant for travelling and it’s been all over the world with me. I took it with me to New York, and had it with me in Prague. In only have problems with travelling when I’m trying to leave the UK. Getting through security can be a chore with all the kit. The kitbag helps though. Keeps everything in one place. Easy to keep hold of, and show people if necessary especially when you’re trying to get insulin and needles though security.”

As far as insulin is concerned, Calladine uses a HumaPen as it does ½ measure doses. He says, “I’ve had it about eight years and I really love it. It really suits me as it means I can do very subtle corrective doses.”

Looking to the future, Calladine enjoys his job but would be happy if the DRWF ceased to be if a cure was found, though he admits, “If there was a cure for Type 1 tomorrow, I think it would be almost as big a culture shock as being diagnosed in the first place. You get so used to all the paraphernalia and looking at food so differently, and the diabetes community is amazing. But still, a cure would be cool!”

This news item first appeared in Desang Diabetes Magazine, our free-to-receive digital journal. We cover diabetes news, diabetes management equipment (diabetes kit) and news about food suitable for a diabetic diet. Go to the top of this page to sign up – we just need your email address.

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Desang Diabetes Magazine is our free-to-receive digital journal (see below). We cover diabetes news, diabetes management equipment (diabetes ‘kit’ such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring equipment) and news about food suitable for a diabetic diet including a regular Making Carbs Count column. We just need your email address to subscribe you (it really is free, and you can easily unsubscribe should you wish to).

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