Let Them Eat Cake: The One Where I Ended Up Having a FREE Diabetes Test

Ah, the joys of extended maternity leave: coffee shops, play dates, coffee mornings… it’s all fun and games eating carrot cake and drinking copious amounts of coffee with all manner of syrups in until someone needs to go for a Diabetes test.

It’s been a long time coming, but finally that someone is me. I’ve blogged before about my need for a ‘glow up‘ both physically and mentally and that I was growing increasingly concerned about the weight I carry around my middle. They say weight gain around your abdomen spells increased risk of Stroke, Heart Disease, and Type 2 Diabetes.

I’d done a pretty good job of burying my head in the sand until one of my siblings was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, who I promptly added to the list of close relatives who have ever had it. The more I learnt about living with it, helping him with nutrition, meal plans, finding out the truth about fruit and carbs – things I thought I knew but really didnt – the more I was curious of my own state of affairs in the blood sugar department.

So when I heard that LloydsPharmacy offer free Type 2 Diabetes screening in their stores I knew that was my cue to address the (sugar flavoured) elephant in the room. Not for the first time either: I was tested for gestational diabetes when I was pregnant, and also by my GP when it turned out I had glandular fever. Yep, being tested for popular illnesses comes second only to my favourite hobby of eating cake.

Where to go for FREE screening

There’s a LloydsPharmacy nearly everywhere you go in England, so it wasn’t hard for me to find a handy one. To make things even more convenient, I chose one instore at a big Sainsbury’s so I could do the big shop and park for free at the same time. There’s a certain irony in being able to smell the bakery while you’re on your way to test your blood sugar but needs must, and I could easily be converted to using a big supermarket as a one-stop shop for health services, like LloydsPharmacy does with these Type 2 Diabetes screenings, cholesterol tests, and all that jazz. The NHS are always saying that people should use pharmacies more, so I figured it must take some pressure off GPs for matters like this.

Paw Patrol Pants & Paperwork

So there I was, with my basket of strawberries, a 5-pack of Paw Patrol underpants, a Taste the Difference paella, and a temptation to divert towards the donuts on account of having fasted for two hours (when I say ‘fasted’, I just hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was only 11am so hardly sacrifice of the century) when I arrived at the LloydsPharmacy counter. All I had to do was fill in a quick form with my details, any medication I was taking, and tick a few boxes to assess my risk factors.

I don’t smoke or drink but I still had other risk factors: High BMI, all those relatives with Type 2 Diabetes, that big ol’ waistline and…. erm, zero minutes exercise per week. It can work the other way round too: people might enjoy half a bottle of red or a few gins per night but make time for the gym, and yet we could still be in the same boat.

When I filled the form out I got to go into a private consultation room with the health advisor from LloydsPharmacy. I had my height, weight, and waistline accurately measured, had my blood pressure checked and we had a look through the answers I’d given on the prescreening form. I made the usual feeble attempt to explain my lack of exercise and the nice LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist said it was good I was so honest but I ought to make time to increase my exercise.

The next bit was the pin prick test, which as it sounds, involves collecting a drop of blood to use for an immediate test of blood sugar levels. It was a quick fingertip puncture, quicker than an injection and far less unpleasant than a proper blood test. Before I’d even got a plaster on the results came back, and the health advisor talked me through them. As relaxed as I felt in there, there’d always been this feeling at the back of my mind that I was going to find out something which would change my life. I cannot overstate how miserable I’d be if I had to live without eating cake again, and that’s honestly not being dramatic.

The All Important Results

I learned a few things from my Type 2 Diabetes screening: first that I had surprisingly good blood sugar levels. I showed up as ‘5’ and anything between 4 and 7 is the ideal reading before you have eaten. Over that level, then people might be invited back for another ‘fasting test’ to see if a longer absence of food makes a significant difference to blood sugar levels. Meanwhile anything showing up as too high straight away will result in being advised to make an appointment with your GP within a few days and to take it from there. I was really surprised, but I suppose you don’t know until you go for one of these tests what’s really going on inside you.

Secondly, I found out I had a surprisingly large waistline – much wider than I’d realised. It just goes to show that four years of committed cake eating after having a jumbo baby can’t half creep up on you. So, with the health advisor’s suggestion that I take up walking to increase my weekly activity, I know I can’t rest on my laurels. I might be off the hook where Type 2 Diabetes is concerned for now, but I’m not necessarily out of the woods as far as Stroke and Heart Disease are concerned. I left the appointment armed with information on how to make the lifestyle changes I need: making better food choices, moving more, and managing weight.

And lastly I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Not just with the results, but the fact that I’d finally been to get screened. It’s one of those personal health admin things that you just have to make time for like going for a smear, checking breasts, testicles etc, keeping an eye on your blood pressure or iron levels, or all of these other behind the scenes things that happen inside our bodies while we’re busy going about our every day lives.

If you want to find out more about Type 2 Diabetes risk factors, getting yourself tested, or lifestyle changes then check out the Type 2 Diabetes Screening Info from LloydsPharmacycheck out the #LetsTalkDiabetes discussions on social media, and visit your nearest LloydsPharmacy branch for your own FREE screening and advice.

It really is… I’m sorry, I have to… a piece of cake.

NB: I worked with LloydsPharmacy on their Type 2 Diabetes Screening campaign. As part of that, I was asked to go for a real life test which I have written about in the hope that my readers will think about their own Type 2 Diabetes risk factors and get checked out too.

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