The 14th November is recognised globally each year as World Diabetes Day. It’s also the birthday of Frederick Banting, whose work with Charles Best led to the discovery of insulin, a drug used to treat diabetes, in 1921. 

The aim of the day is to raise as much awareness as possible around the condition,which affects around 422 million people globally. 

Bringing it a little closer to home, six per cent of the island’s population is said to be living with diabetes, so around 5,000 people. But diabetes doesn’t just affect the person who has it. A diabetes diagnosis, particularly in children, is a diagnosis for the family.

We’ve teamed up with local charity Diabetes IOM to speak to a number of local people living with diabetes, to try and understand a bit more about the condition, and how it impacts their daily lives.


Tracey Leahy, 48 - Diabetes type: Type 2 – insulin dependant.How old were you when you were diagnosed? 42What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? Hair loss, weight loss, extreme fatigue and stomach pains.How do you manage your diabetes? Tablets, insulin, healthy diet and little to no alcohol. I wear a Freestyle Libre on my arm which helps me monitor my blood sugar levels really easily. I’ve also had to brief my team at work about how to help if I have a hypo.Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? Massively. Ensuring a Healthy diet, exercise, plenty of sleep and trying to reduce stress. It's also really important to forecast and plan my day so that I know when I will be able to eat and inject insulin.  I carry glucose tablets with me in case a meeting runs on to prevent a hypo. Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: The biggest misconception for me is that Type 2 is only caused by lifestyle. Mine is genetic and I will have it for life.
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Tracey Leahy, 48

Diabetes type: Type 2 – insulin dependant.

How old were you when you were diagnosed? 42

What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? Hair loss, weight loss, extreme fatigue and stomach pains.

How do you manage your diabetes? Tablets, insulin, healthy diet and little to no alcohol. I wear a Freestyle Libre on my arm which helps me monitor my blood sugar levels really easily. I’ve also had to brief my team at work about how to help if I have a hypo.

Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? Massively. Ensuring a Healthy diet, exercise, plenty of sleep and trying to reduce stress. It’s also really important to forecast and plan my day so that I know when I will be able to eat and inject insulin.  I carry glucose tablets with me in case a meeting runs on to prevent a hypo. 

Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: The biggest misconception for me is that Type 2 is only caused by lifestyle. Mine is genetic and I will have it for life.



David Patterson, 39   - Diabetes type: Type 1 How old were you when you were diagnosed? 32What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? I had incredible thirst, significant weight loss and constant trips to the toilet. How do you manage your diabetes? I check my sugar levels regularly throughout the day and inject with insulin any time I eat carbs. I also inject with a slow releasing insulin pen once a day, every day. Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I’m mindful that you have to plan ahead and know what you’re doing to ensure you have enough insulin with you, and also sugar/sweets in case you have to correct a hypo (low blood sugar). I travel a lot with work to the Middle East, so I also need to make sure my insulin pens are temperature-safe, otherwise they won’t be effective.  Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: You can’t eat anything that has sugar in it. I carb count which means that I know how much I need to inject myself with depending how many grams of carbs are in each meal, which means that there’s really nothing off limits as long as you inject the right amount of insulin.
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David Patterson, 39

Diabetes type: Type 1

How old were you when you were diagnosed? 32

What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? I had incredible thirst, significant weight loss and constant trips to the toilet. 

How do you manage your diabetes? I check my sugar levels regularly throughout the day and inject with insulin any time I eat carbs. I also inject with a slow releasing insulin pen once a day, every day. 

Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I’m mindful that you have to plan ahead and know what you’re doing to ensure you have enough insulin with you, and also sugar/sweets in case you have to correct a hypo (low blood sugar). I travel a lot with work to the Middle East, so I also need to make sure my insulin pens are temperature-safe, otherwise they won’t be effective.  

Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: You can’t eat anything that has sugar in it. I carb count which means that I know how much I need to inject myself with depending how many grams of carbs are in each meal, which means that there’s really nothing off limits as long as you inject the right amount of insulin.



Natasha Parry, 29 - Diabetes type: Type 1How old were you when you were diagnosed? 12What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? Rapid weight-loss, an unquenchable thirst, frequent toilet trips, sickness when trying to eat and my breath smelt like pear drops, which is a sign of dibaetic ketoacidosis (DKA).How do you manage your diabetes? I wear a self-funded Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor, and I inject fast acting insulin with each and every meal I eat. I also inject a long-acting insulin at bedtime, which runs in the background.Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I definitely think you lose the ability to be completely spontaneous when you’re living with diabetes. You go through a mental check-list every time you go out the door; insulin, fast acting sugar, needles, blood testing kit, nighttime injection (just in case we get stranded somewhere...) So yeah, spontaneity doesn’t really exist. BUT! I have lived with diabetes for longer than I’ve lived without it, so it’s second nature to me now.Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: That people think you should look a certain way when you have diabetes. Like, a sickly Victorian child or something? It’s definitely an ‘invisible condition’ and there are diabetics of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds with so many complex needs and treatments; there’s no one size fits all. I was once told (by a very well-intentioned stranger) that I didn’t look diabetic ‘because I looked healthy and my skin was glowing’...that’ll be the Fenty glow kit hun, but thanks anyway!
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Natasha Parry, 29

Diabetes type: Type 1

How old were you when you were diagnosed? 12

What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? Rapid weight-loss, an unquenchable thirst, frequent toilet trips, sickness when trying to eat and my breath smelt like pear drops, which is a sign of dibaetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

How do you manage your diabetes? I wear a self-funded Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor, and I inject fast acting insulin with each and every meal I eat. I also inject a long-acting insulin at bedtime, which runs in the background.

Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I definitely think you lose the ability to be completely spontaneous when you’re living with diabetes. You go through a mental check-list every time you go out the door; insulin, fast acting sugar, needles, blood testing kit, nighttime injection (just in case we get stranded somewhere…) So yeah, spontaneity doesn’t really exist. BUT! I have lived with diabetes for longer than I’ve lived without it, so it’s second nature to me now.

Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: That people think you should look a certain way when you have diabetes. Like, a sickly Victorian child or something? It’s definitely an ‘invisible condition’ and there are diabetics of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds with so many complex needs and treatments; there’s no one size fits all. I was once told (by a very well-intentioned stranger) that I didn’t look diabetic ‘because I looked healthy and my skin was glowing’…that’ll be the Fenty glow kit hun, but thanks anyway!



Rob Hurdman, 55 - Diabetes type: Type 2How old were you when you were diagnosed? 40, I think?!  What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? None, I was only diagnosed by going for a health check which was offered through my health insurance.How do you manage your diabetes? Tablets and Injections.Have you had to adapt your lifestyle?  I haven’t really, I just try and exercise more, I play squash three times this week.
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Rob Hurdman, 55

Diabetes type: Type 2

How old were you when you were diagnosed? 40, I think?!  

What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? None, I was only diagnosed by going for a health check which was offered through my health insurance.

How do you manage your diabetes? Tablets and Injections.

Have you had to adapt your lifestyle?  I haven’t really, I just try and exercise more, I play squash three times this week.



Adam Parker, 39 - Diabetes type: Long onset type 1 – basically type 2 but with all the readings and measurements of being a type 1. So treating me as a type 2.How old were you when you were diagnosed?  35, I think?What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? I lost a lot of weight, toilet trips throughout the night and constant thirst. How do you manage your diabetes? Metformin tablets and a daily insulin injection called Xultrophy, which is a mix of insulin and an enzyme similar to a lizard’s enzyme, used to slow down your metabolism.Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I haven’t really! I have tried to cut down on sugar and do more exercise! I am more aware of my “lows” and the risks of hypos. Luckily I have never had one, although I have been close; generally after a spin class! I have tried not to let it affect me and my day to day living.Biggest misconception about living with diabetes:  I often get ‘Ooh you can’t eat that! You’re diabetic!’ Sometimes we need sugar if we are low.
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Adam Parker, 39

Diabetes type: Long onset type 1 – basically type 2 but with all the readings and measurements of being a type 1. So treating me as a type 2.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?  35, I think?

What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? I lost a lot of weight, toilet trips throughout the night and constant thirst. 

How do you manage your diabetes? Metformin tablets and a daily insulin injection called Xultrophy, which is a mix of insulin and an enzyme similar to a lizard’s enzyme, used to slow down your metabolism.

Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I haven’t really! I have tried to cut down on sugar and do more exercise! I am more aware of my “lows” and the risks of hypos. Luckily I have never had one, although I have been close; generally after a spin class! I have tried not to let it affect me and my day to day living.

Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: I often get ‘Ooh you can’t eat that! You’re diabetic!’ Sometimes we need sugar if we are low.



Sarah Owen, 32  - Diabetes type: Type 1 How old were you when you were diagnosed?  9What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? Thirst and constant toilet trips. I remember being given cartons of apple juice for lunch and asking my mum if I could have two, and even that didn’t touch the sides. I didn’t really notice that I was more tired, but I had certainly lost weight.How do you manage your diabetes? Up until 4 years ago I used injections (4 per day), but now I am on the Omnipod (wireless) pump, which I love. I have recently been lucky enough to get the Freestyle Libre (continuous glucose monitor) from the NHS on the Isle of Man just two days ago! This truly is life changing and has cut down dramatically on the amount of times I have to prick my finger a day.Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I have learned that diabetes is just part of me. I still carry on with my life. I’m active, I work full time, I’m a mum and I run a charity. It can be difficult fitting everything in, but factoring in my testing and adjustments saves time and hassle and less disruption. I’m independent with my diabetes and my biggest fear is for someone to have to help me with it. I’ve learned to make tweaks and adjustments myself and become confident in them. I’m always learning, I have to adapt my doses and make changes when I am active or ill. The best tip I have is to always be prepared. I never go anywhere without a spare kit or jelly babies to treat my sugar if it dips. I live by the motto made up by my high school PE teacher who said when talking about me playing sport:“She tucks a Mars bar down each sock and off she goes!” And that’s me, now it’s Jelly Babies and they’re usually in my pocket.Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: That if a diabetic’s blood sugar is low that it should be treated with insulin! This actually terrifies me. NO! We need sugar, not more insulin. If in doubt just call 999, don’t touch anybody's medication.
Sarah Owen.png

Sarah Owen, 32 

Diabetes type: Type 1 

How old were you when you were diagnosed?  9

What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? Thirst and constant toilet trips. I remember being given cartons of apple juice for lunch and asking my mum if I could have two, and even that didn’t touch the sides. I didn’t really notice that I was more tired, but I had certainly lost weight.

How do you manage your diabetes? Up until 4 years ago I used injections (4 per day), but now I am on the Omnipod (wireless) pump, which I love. I have recently been lucky enough to get the Freestyle Libre (continuous glucose monitor) from the NHS on the Isle of Man just two days ago! This truly is life changing and has cut down dramatically on the amount of times I have to prick my finger a day.

Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? I have learned that diabetes is just part of me. I still carry on with my life. I’m active, I work full time, I’m a mum and I run a charity. It can be difficult fitting everything in, but factoring in my testing and adjustments saves time and hassle and less disruption. I’m independent with my diabetes and my biggest fear is for someone to have to help me with it. I’ve learned to make tweaks and adjustments myself and become confident in them. I’m always learning, I have to adapt my doses and make changes when I am active or ill. The best tip I have is to always be prepared. I never go anywhere without a spare kit or jelly babies to treat my sugar if it dips. I live by the motto made up by my high school PE teacher who said when talking about me playing sport:“She tucks a Mars bar down each sock and off she goes!” And that’s me, now it’s Jelly Babies and they’re usually in my pocket.

Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: That if a diabetic’s blood sugar is low that it should be treated with insulin! This actually terrifies me. NO! We need sugar, not more insulin. If in doubt just call 999, don’t touch anybody’s medication.



Dave Allen, 38 & Ralph Allen, 7 - Diabetes type: Both Type 1, though mine came on so late in life that it’s commonly known as Type 1.5What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? We each had been exceptionally thirsty, tired and had exhibited drastic weight loss prior to diagnosis. How do you manage your diabetes? We each wear Dexcom G6 sensors so we can get our readings on our phones (and I can see Ralph’s remotely on my phone) constantly. For insulin delivery, Ralph wears an Omnipod pump whereas I’m keeping it old school with the injection pens. I also try to manage it as best I can through diet and exercise. Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? We were both “lucky” in a sense, because Ralph was diagnosed when he was 3, so he hasn’t really ever known much else. Of course, we need the assistance of his teachers and other caretakers when he’s not with us. His pump and sensor means he has a minimal amount of kit to have to take with him wherever he goes. As for me, having dealt with Ralph’s diabetes for 3 and a bit years prior to my own diagnosis, I was at least in a good position to get on top of management of my blood sugars straight away. Having to carry my kit around is taking some getting used to, and having to inject myself has me thinking twice before reaching for the crisp cupboard but otherwise it is very much business as usual. Oh, unless you count the giant mason jar full of Jelly Babies at my office in case of hypos.Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: There are two that come to mind – Both of which I was guilty of when Ralph was diagnosed. First is that Type 1 has anything to do with prior diet or lifestyle. While a healthy approach to both can help with management, unfortunately no amount of clean livin’ could have prevented our diagnoses. Secondly is that it can affect what you can/can’t do in your everyday life. I worried Ralph wouldn’t be able to play with his mates, play sports, etc. As long as the requisite kit is at hand, and you become more familiar with how certain types of activity affect your sugars, the world is your oyster! Fairly sure oysters are carb-free, too, so that’s sound.
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Dave Allen, 38 & Ralph Allen, 7

Diabetes type: Both Type 1, though mine came on so late in life that it’s commonly known as Type 1.5

What symptoms did you have when you were diagnosed? We each had been exceptionally thirsty, tired and had exhibited drastic weight loss prior to diagnosis. 

How do you manage your diabetes? We each wear Dexcom G6 sensors so we can get our readings on our phones (and I can see Ralph’s remotely on my phone) constantly. For insulin delivery, Ralph wears an Omnipod pump whereas I’m keeping it old school with the injection pens. I also try to manage it as best I can through diet and exercise. 

Have you had to adapt your lifestyle? We were both “lucky” in a sense, because Ralph was diagnosed when he was 3, so he hasn’t really ever known much else. Of course, we need the assistance of his teachers and other caretakers when he’s not with us. His pump and sensor means he has a minimal amount of kit to have to take with him wherever he goes. As for me, having dealt with Ralph’s diabetes for 3 and a bit years prior to my own diagnosis, I was at least in a good position to get on top of management of my blood sugars straight away. Having to carry my kit around is taking some getting used to, and having to inject myself has me thinking twice before reaching for the crisp cupboard but otherwise it is very much business as usual. Oh, unless you count the giant mason jar full of Jelly Babies at my office in case of hypos.

Biggest misconception about living with diabetes: There are two that come to mind – Both of which I was guilty of when Ralph was diagnosed. First is that Type 1 has anything to do with prior diet or lifestyle. While a healthy approach to both can help with management, unfortunately no amount of clean livin’ could have prevented our diagnoses. Secondly is that it can affect what you can/can’t do in your everyday life. I worried Ralph wouldn’t be able to play with his mates, play sports, etc. As long as the requisite kit is at hand, and you become more familiar with how certain types of activity affect your sugars, the world is your oyster! Fairly sure oysters are carb-free, too, so that’s sound.

If you would like more information on diabetes or would like to support Diabetes Isle of Man visit their website diabetesisleofman.com or contact them directly on 622325 or email hello@diabetesisleofman.com