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Type 2 diabetes: You could have it and not know it

Alan Roker uses his FreeStyle Libre to check his blood sugar levels to manage his type 2 diabetes.
Alan Roker uses his FreeStyle Libre to check his blood sugar levels to manage his type 2 diabetes. Inge Hansen

FOUR times a day, every day for the past 27 years, Alan Roker has injected himself with insulin.

At 48 years old, the ex-police officer was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and is completely insulin dependent.

It was only from a yearly medical exam while in the New Zealand force that the disease was discovered.

"I left the police when I found out," he said.

"I couldn't do frontline because if I was fighting and I had a hypo, when my blood sugar goes low, I can't say 'let's stop fighting for a minute while I have my jelly beans'."

Mr Roker is one of at least 6872 people with type 2 diabetes on the Fraser Coast according to Diabetes Queensland.

However, there is a frightening number who could be walking around completely oblivious to their condition - 3400 to be exact.

It is believed 7582 people on the Fraser Coast have diabetes.

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Suffering with an ulcer on his foot and exposed nerve endings in his feet, Mr Roker was guttered to hear the numbers.

"That's terrible because so many people, especially the ones who develop type 2, can avoid it," Mr Roker said.

The diagnosis was hard for Mr Roker to accept, dubbing himself an "adrenaline junkie".

"Previously, years before (the police force) I was in the London fire brigade," he said.

"I just love the action but I had to calm down a lot.

"I can only relate (diabetes) to an athlete who loses a leg."

On Monday, diabetes was brought to the forefront with World Diabetes Awareness Day. 

Divine Medical Centre and La Divino Cosmetic and Skin Clinic owner Dr Samson Osedimilehin said the worrying numbers were not just for the Fraser Coast.

He said that, in Australia, about one million people had type 2 diabetes, with a high prevalence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"People are eating more refined products when they used to eat more fruit and vegetables," he said.

"The complications from diabetes are quite enormous."

He said if not diagnosed early, diabetes could lead to chronicle kidney disease.

"More people are going on dialysis because they don't know they have it," he said.

"Up to 50 per cent of diabetes patients end up with chronic kidney disease."

Having treated an enormous number of patients with diabetes, Dr Sam said even as a doctor the experience could be traumatic, with amputations needed for severe cases.

Mr Roker is part of a trial for the FreeStyle Libre - an electronic way to check glucose without finger pricking and he hopes to see more people able to afford the device.

Topics:  diabetes queensland fccommunity fchealth type 2 diabetes


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