Best foot forward

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Helen McNaughton takes very good care of her feet – her well-being depends on it.

Fourteen years ago the Gore woman was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Ms McNaughton said she could not walk around barefoot as many people did.

“The slightest little cut, mark on your foot, could turn septic and then you land in problems.

” Any cut takes quite a bit longer to heal.”

She had also lost some of the feeling in her feet.

“You don’t notice the fact that you’ve got a blister on your foot .. [or] a little stone in your shoe.”

Either of those two situations could allow infection into her body.

It was also important to keep the blood sugar levels even because that could affect blood circulation, she said.

Sometimes amputation of the lower limbs resulted from infections or poor circulation.

She was in her early 60s, when she returned from a trip to Australia and felt very tired.

It had been a busy time and at first she thought that was the reason for her tiredness.

A few weeks later, when the tiredness persisted, she decided to get checked out and went to her GP.

Blood test results showed she had Type 2 diabetes, which meant her pancreas still produced insulin but not enough.

Type 1 diabetics need insulin injections to help control their body’s blood sugar level and metabolism.

When she heard the news of her condition, she “took it in her stride”.

“You can’t go back- you’ve just got to deal with it.

It was her nursing experience which made it easier for her cope, she said.

She had successfully managed the disease ever since with exercise, diet, oral medication and regular health checkups.

“I’ve more or less stayed stable.

“For me it hasn’t been a major problem.

“It’s been an easy journey for me.”

Keeping active was key, rather than a strict exercise regime.

“Walking around the garden, doing your garden, doing your housework, doing your vacuuming – that is as good an exercise as anything.”

She recommended people find out if diabetes was a disease which ran in their family.

Many people were not aware they had Type 2 diabetes.

“There are as many undiagnosed diabetics as there are diagnosed.”