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David Stoddart – Barnard Castle, County Durham

“It has already taken my legs and I don’t want it to take my eyes as well.”

I was fit as a butcher’s dog when I was diagnosed with diabetes 45 years ago. I played football and county level squash. I had lost a bit of weight for no reason and I had an excessive thirst. I was an HGV driver and I used to drink bottles and bottles of lemonade every day.

Once I was diagnosed, I was in hospital for two weeks to make sure my condition was stabilised and I knew how to manage it.

Since then, I’ve gone religiously to diabetes clinics. I take my blood sugar twice a day and, at the moment, it’s pretty good as it’s in single figures. You live by mealtimes and have to eat decent food at regular intervals. I do my exercises religiously for what is left of my legs and springs and weights for my upper body.

I now rely on a wheelchair after losing both legs because of diabetes. I lost my left leg eight years ago below the knee and, then two-and-a-half years ago, they operated on the right leg, amputating above the knee because of poor circulation in my toes.

I’m in a wheelchair but I do have a prosthetic left leg and I’m going to have a right leg fitted too, so I am hoping I will walk again. The more difficult it is for me to get around, the harder it is for my wife Mabel.

Losing your legs obviously does hit you hard but I think the toughest thing for me was losing my driving license because of poor peripheral vision.

I’ve lost count of the number of laser treatments I’ve had. Every time you have laser treatment, it causes scaring. There are so many white scars on my left eyeball, it looks like a golf ball, although my right eye isn’t as bad.

I hope the sleep mask can stop any further damage. Diabetes ruins your life. It has already taken my legs and I don’t want it to take my eyes as well.

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