International Nurses Day 2017 – JDRF supporter Kelly Carden on how her diabetes specialist nurse helped her and others

Author: Kelly's story | Posted: 12 May 2017

In 2016 Kelly Carden wrote a blog for JDRF about how her diabetes nurse supported her when she was struggling to get used to using an insulin pump.

You can read the full blog below, but for International Nurses Day 2017 Kelly shared with JDRF some stories and comments from other people with type 1 diabetes who received support from the same nurses and healthcare team at the University Hospital Southampton:

“I would like to say a huge thank you to the nurses in the diabetes team at University Hospital Southampton. They all go above and beyond to ensure each patient is always the centre of their care.  Not only does this make me feel valued and listened to, I feel safe and trust them to help me care for myself.  Words will never be able to express my thanks to them all, especially June, Rita, Paula & Penny.”

“I’d like to say thanks for their help and for going above and beyond! Penny and June have been brilliant with me.”

“I would like to say thank you to all the nurses and doctors but a big thank you to June since moving to the adult ward they have not only helped me with my diabetes but given me confidence in myself with it and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t of done the things I have achieved so thank you.”

“I’d like to thank them for all their help and advice over the past year and for helping me to completely change my life.”

“I would like to say a huge thank you to June and Penny for taking over my care since I moved from Suffolk (West Suffolk Hospital) to this area and the Diabetes Department at Southampton General Hospital.. They have both been absolutely brilliant.”

“I would like to say thank you to them, for giving me a space to be honest without judgement. This is rare and they’ve let me relax without always putting so much pressure on myself. They are a very special team x.”

Kelly’s blog from 2016: “I was ready to throw my pump out of the window, but my diabetes nurse refused to give up”

Kelly Carden
Kelly (right) with her Diabetes Specialist Nurse

Since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago I have not made it very easy for those trying to help me. I have needed to form relationships with health care professionals and I haven’t always wanted to do this.

It’s not that I’m a difficult person; I feel I’m quite friendly and easy to get along with. But when I’ve been forced to meet new people, following my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, it all became a bit too much.

This happened within a few months of being diagnosed; I didn’t want to speak to any of the diabetes specialist nurses. I could barely process everything that was happening and most certainly did not want to follow a new daily regime. It was so easy to ignore calls, refuse to speak to anyone. But the nurses refused to ignore me. They found a way to communicate to me via a friend and with time I was able to start speaking with them and eventually attended a much needed face-to-face appointment.

After being diagnosed I was thrown into a new world; a world that was completely new to me. I had to learn what type 1 diabetes is, how it would affect me, what I had to do, what I had to take, who I had to contact, appointments I had to attend, information I had to record, measurements I had to count, what may happen, what may not happen, who does what, what is important…I really could go on but even typing this is becoming a little boring. This is something I have to deal with on a daily basis.

A friendly introduction, a smile and genuine compassion from healthcare professionals (HCPs) is what really helps me. For me it’s important that my views and concerns are listened to, and I’m given time. I like to be referred to as a person, as Kelly. Whilst I am type 1 diabetic, the condition doesn’t define who I am. There is so much more to me. I also work, I have hobbies, I have relationships, and I go through difficult times just like anyone else.

As a patient I also need to remember there are many ways that I can help my nurse, GP, consultant & dietitian to help me. I realise I also need to be clear with my expectations. I need to be open and honest and am working really hard with this.

It’s easy to hide behind a smile to disguise how I am really feeling and I fear sharing the daily worries. It’s difficult to allow others into your life, expose your vulnerabilities, but I need to try in order for me to gain the help and support I need. This is something I will continue to work on as long as I have the support and continue to build trust with my team of HCPs.

I had a few weeks of consistently high blood glucose levels and at one point actually felt that I would throw my pump out of the window! Sod off diabetes and take your stupid piece of equipment with you! I spoke to my Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) and told her this – I really didn’t care anymore. I like to think I wouldn’t have launched Penny the pump and the response from my DSN may have prevented my pump ending up in little pieces in the road. I didn’t expect the response I got:

“Please just let me know when you are going to do this as I will come and stand outside the window to catch it.”

Did she actually just say that?!?

For me this was a turning point in my relationship with my DSN. I felt she understood me and was able to recognise how I was feeling, how I wanted to deal with the situation and how to respond to me. Most importantly her message was clear. She wasn’t going to give up! Her response made me realise she cared and understood me. Had she really taken the time to get to know me? Yes. Yes she had. She knew what I needed to hear. She recognised I was struggling, provided a listening ear, gave me time and treated me as me! The consistent care and genuine concern gained my trust.

So what I’m trying to say is my DSN has been fantastic. These simple things may be all it takes to help a patient, change their way of thinking, how they see you and more importantly build their confidence to manage their condition.

Read the full version of Kelly’s blog here.