LIFE as she knew it came to an abrupt halt when Hazel Bettis suddenly began experiencing bouts of exhaustion which left her homebound for days until she had no choice but to quit her job.
After two years during which the mysterious condition drained her of any energy and left her seemingly unable to stay hydrated, the mother-of-three, then 55, was eventually diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
This heralded the start of a regimented life for the care assistant for Swindon’s mental health services whose routine suddenly revolved around blood sugar level checks, calorie and carbohydrate counts and insulin injections.
It also led to her having the toes on one foot amputated.
“It happened all of a sudden,” she said. “I used to be very active and I walked a lot. I had no energy and for two years I had ups and downs.
“I lost my job because I was so tired I had to miss work.
“I was not eating. I was always thirsty and going to the toilet a lot.
“I was so cross when I found out I had diabetes. If it had been detected before I would not have had to go through what I did.
“I changed my eating habits – I used to have a lot of chocolate – and I still have some sugar but not as much as I used to.
“Now I have to take tablets and inject insulin twice a day.
“I didn’t know much about diabetes so I had to learn fast.”
Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.
Family history, age and ethnic background can affect a person's risk of developing Type 2, and people are also more likely to develop it if they are overweight.
Despite constant care, especially of her feet which are more prone to infections as a result of diabetes, Hazel developed an ulcer and had to have all the toes in her right foot amputated two years ago.
Her eyesight has also been affected. While she has experienced some of the worst side-effects of diabetes, Hazel is keen to share her journey in the hope of inspiring others to change their lifestyles and avoid unnecessary hardship.
“I had a diabetic ulcer which would not heal and gangrene set in,” she added. “ It makes things a bit awkward for me to get around.
“It comes to be such a nuisance. A lot of people don’t know about diabetes and what it involves and I think educating them is important.
“Life goes on for me but if what I went through can help people that’s something.”