THERE will be a 15per cent rise in the number of people living with diabetes in East Lancashire by 2020, according to experts.
Diabetes UK said those with the Type 2 condition will jump from 35,200 to 41,500 in less than eight years, because of the area’s high levels of obesity, and more susceptible south east Asian population.
One sufferer, who has spent two out of the last five years with his legs in a cast because of a diabetes-related condition, has urged people to go to their doctors “at the first suspicion”.
Adrian Myhill, 57, a retired policeman from Feniscowles, Blackburn, was diagnosed in November 1997, but had already had the condition for some time.
The father-of-four said: “I was working horrible hours and long shifts, and eating at all times of the day and night, but I never really thought much of it.
“At the time, my wife Jayne was training to become a nurse. She noticed I had the classic signs of diabetes – an unquenchable thirst, extreme tiredness, and was irritable.
“When I first got the test results back, I went into denial. Coming to terms with having the condition was the hardest part.
“Then I started to develop problems in both feet and had to deal with it, and take ownership.
“I’m not going to blame working for the police for my illness. I could have been better informed, and I could have made better choices.
“I’ve contributed to ending up like this, so I’m responsible for what happens in the future.”
Despite insulin treatment, Adrian’s feet got worse and he was diagnosed as having severe diabetic neuropathy, which means he has a complete loss of sensation up to his mid-shins.
He is unaware of minor cuts and sores which can develop into infected ulcers, and have led to the development of Charcot Foot – a condition causing weakening of the bones that causes joints to collapse.
He said: “Having no feeling means that I lose spacial awareness of where my feet are pointing, and at what angle. I now walk very slowly, and have to look ahead at all times.
“It is frustrating to a degree, but I know that if I don’t behave myself, I could end up losing limbs.”
He added: “My message to other people is to be more prepared, and take responsibility.
“There’s no excuse for eating bad food if you’re working shifts. Think about getting a healthier packed lunch prepared.
“Most of all, go to the doctor if you’re at all worried. The tests are non-invasive and early diagnosis is going to help your quality of life.”
Blackburn with Darwen has been ranked as 18th worst for diabetes levels out of 151 PCT areas in England, and the rest of East Lancashire is 53rd.