Patient view

Diabetes nurse helped my daughter overcome her fear of needles

Jacqueline North reflects on the support her daughter received from diabetes specialist nurse Claire Springall after diagnosis.

Jacqueline North reflects on the support her daughter received from diabetes specialist nurse Claire Springall after diagnosis.

My daughter Ashleigh was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in January 2015, aged 23. She has a fear of needles and has vasovagal episodes – she experiences a sharp dip in blood pressure and collapses.

Type 1 diabetes requires constant monitoring. Picture: iStock

We met Claire Springall, diabetes specialist nurse for 18-25-year-olds, the day before Ashleigh's discharge from Bedford Hospital. We were in her office and she had just introduced herself when Ashleigh had a vasovagal episode.

None of this fazed Claire, who grabbed a bowl and gave it to Ashleigh just in case. I was frantic and emotional, but Claire was both calm and calming and waited for us to gather ourselves. There was no rush.

Ashleigh could not be discharged on the usual regimen because she could not inject herself. Claire advised that Ashleigh would have to start on NovoMix twice daily and I would have to give it.

With this method Ashleigh would only be able to have limited carbohydrates, so she had support from a dietician, Mary Bennett. We spent about an hour learning how to follow the regimen but again there was no rush and loads of compassion and understanding. We were both so nervous.

Phobia fixed

Luckily for Ashleigh, a psychologist helped her to come to terms with her life-changing diagnosis and overcome her needle phobia.

With the support of Claire, Ashleigh felt able to try the next step of one long-acting insulin dose every 24 hours and 'inject as you eat', as well as another new diet and a new set of rules.
This regimen didn't work for Ashleigh as she kept having hypos, but bolstered by the support of Claire and her team we tried another regimen and eventually Ashleigh was stable enough to apply for a pump.

Claire helped Ashleigh decide which one would be best and completed all the paperwork for the application. Her sugars have never been better. We would never have got here without Claire’s invaluable support. She has always been happy to take worried calls from me.

Claire and her team are the epitome of the 6Cs. They are invaluable in educating and supporting young people. The benefits to these patients, including Ashleigh, are long-term.

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