Isobel Foster – Crook, County Durham
I was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes around 25 years ago. I had lost a lot of weight and I could have drunk the seas dry, so I recognised what the symptoms were. It is the lifestyle changes that get to you, particularly as my three children were young at the time and I was working as a childminder.
I had to have four or five insulin injections a day and you have to eat at certain times of the day. I was pretty good at spotting the symptoms if my blood sugar levels were low. You have to make sure you’re looking after yourself when you’re looking after children. I do pilates and zumba and I walk a lot, so I try to make sure I’m doing the right things.
I developed Diabetic Retinopathy 15 years ago. At that point, I’d had a career change and was working as a florist. I was reaching up to get some flowers so I could put a bouquet together when blood suddenly burst up inside my right eye. It’s rare to actually be able to see a bleed so it was terrifying.
I had so many laser treatments to try to control the condition that I lost count. They were damaging my eyeballs to try to save my eyesight. The treatment has moved on but when I first started having it, the laser felt pretty hot. It’s not a pleasant experience.
I can’t drive anymore because of poor peripheral vision and I had to give up work because I was disorientated when using the phone, till and card machines.
I really did wonder if I would lose my sight completely. I have three children and my fifth grandchild Beatrix arrived a few weeks ago. Not being able to see my grandchildren was my worst fear. I also like reading, although I’ve had to buy a Kindle because of the small print in most books. I can’t see certain shades and tones like yellows and sometimes I can’t see the weeds until they get fairly big, but I still love gardening.
I read about the Noctura 400 in an article and contacted the makers. I get the mask through Wade Opticians and I’ve been using it for nine months. I don’t notice the glow at all while I’m wearing it.
I hoped the sleep mask would stabilise my condition. I didn’t expect I would have improvements, but I have. The biggest improvements came within the first three months. Since I started to wear the sleep mask, I’ve had no further laser treatment and no further bleeds. I’ve noticed I can now read labels and price tags when I’m out shopping, which I’d never have been able to do a few months ago.