World Diabetes Day: A True Life Story of Reversing Diabetes

Nicola Davidson was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2006, and after a struggle of 7 years, she managed to turn her lifestyle around and completely reverse her condition – what’s more, she plans to climb the highest mountain in Africa in 2018. What better message for us as nurses to get out there for World Diabetes Day on November 14?

While still in her 30’s Nicola weighed 135Kg (297 lbs) and was living it up with overeating, drinking too much and, in her words, “the most exercise I got was walking from my car into a bar.” She had already been diagnosed with hypertension when she received the shocking diagnosis of adult-onset type 2 Diabetes. “It was a rude and scary awakening,” she said.

World Diabetes Day

On the advice of her medical practitioner, she made some in attempts at lifestyle changes. She joined a weight-loss program but soon became irritated not being able to eat and do what she enjoyed. She lost some weight but after a few years had put it all back on again. “I always knew it was something I ‘should’ do, but it wasn’t something I ever really wanted to do for myself. It just seemed too great an effort,” said Nicola. She also believed that as long as she took the medication to control diabetes for the rest of her life, she would be fine. She had no idea that lifestyle changes could reverse the condition.

In 2013, she decided to try and lose some weight again and this time enrolled a personal trainer as well as a nutritionist. Starting in July of that year, she cut most carbohydrates from her diet and exercised three to four times a week. By November, only five months later, she was experiencing dizzy spells, and during a visit to her medical practitioner, it appeared that her blood sugar had returned to normal. She was taken off her medication and has never needed it again! She also said that with a healthier diet of lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, together with her regular workouts, she feels more energetic and confident – her quality of life has improved significantly.

Nicola plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 2018 with the aim to raise awareness and money for diabetes. She will be joined by a friend who has been on a similar weight-loss journey.

Image via: Nicola Davidson

Recent research supports Nicola’s turn-around experience with her diabetes. A study published in 2012 demonstrated that sustained remission of type 2 diabetes is possible with intensive weight loss and lifestyle intervention through a calorie restricted diet and regular exercise. The research showed that the intervention was particularly effective for those whose diabetes had been of a short duration and did not yet require insulin therapy. Similar results have been recorded in later studies.  In one of these, blood sugar levels were normal within eight weeks of a very low-calorie diet in 87% of subjects whose diabetes had been of a short duration and in 50% of those who had lived with diabetes for a longer period.

Frieda Paton is a registered nurse with a Master’s degree in nursing education. Her passion for nursing education, nursing issues and advocacy for the profession were ignited while she worked as an education officer, and later editor, at a national nurses’ association. This passion, together with interest in health and wellness education since her student days, stayed with her throughout her further career as a nurse educator and occupational health nurse. Having reached retirement age, she continues to contribute to the profession as a full-time freelance writer. In the news and feature articles she writes for Nurseslabs, she hopes to inspire nursing students and nurses on the job to reflect on the trends and issues that affect their profession and communities - and play their part in advocacy wherever they find themselves.

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