Managing Asthma, COPD and Diabetes: steroids, side effects and food diary

21 Mar 2018 • 10 comments

Janet, 59, tells us about the consequences of the treatments she's been taking for her Asthma and COPD, which led to the development of such conditions as Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, High blood pressure. However, by adapting her diet and her numerous treatments, Janet manages to reduce her doses, lose weight and stay positive.

Managing Asthma, COPD and Diabetes: steroids, side effects and food diary

My married name was Janet Collins but since my husband walked out last November I prefer Jan Staley. I will be 60 in July and have 2 children plus one much loved granddaughter. My daughter Zoe is nearly 35 lives with her partner (they are getting married in November) and my 6 year old granddaughter Amerthyst about half hours drive away. We talk every day and she comes over at least once a week. My son Nathan is 26 and having put his life on hold to make sure I was OK has just changed jobs and is now working full time as a team leader for a local garden company. 

I used to work as an educational officer at a Tudor Manor House but had to pack it in 12 years ago when my asthma got too bad. Nowadays I love to do lots of different crafts and write. I have just started a fundraising campaign for the British Heart foundation selling homemade cards and small gifts.

My son once counted the number of doses of medicines I was on in a day and it was something like 60 to 70 including insulin, nebuliser, inhalers, nasal sprays and tablets. He reckons that I could set up a chemist's!

The reason I have to take these medicines are to do with the number of illnesses I have.

Asthma and COPD

I have already mentioned asthma which I was diagnosed with at 2, at 4 my mum was told it was childhood asthma and I would grow out of it. It goes in cycles, will stabilise for a few years and then go downhill. As well as chronic brittle asthma, I have recently been diagnosed with COPD as well. At the moment I am under Southampton hospital using 2 new treatments, 1 is a machine that goes over my bed and acts as a large filter to clean the air and recycle it. The other is a course of injections that I have once a month, since even the nurses giving it me can't pronounce it I am not going to try. I have been on prednisone, steroid tablets for 15 years at least, since Christmas as a result of these injections I have managed to reduce them to 6 mg from 15 mg.

Consequences of the treatments

If I had known the side effects I am not sure that I would have gone on them. My digestive system is shot, they tried to do an endoscopy last week but had to abort it as there was so much debris floating around. I also have diverticulitis and irritable bowel disease (different from IBS apparently), a hiatus hernia which is so big it needs operating on but they can't because they can't find an anesthetist who is prepared to take the risk with my asthma. 

Otherwise I have osteoarthritis in my back and hips plus onset osteoporosis in my left hip. All these are side effects of the steroids, that and the fact that I put loads of weight on. As a result of the weight and the steroids I developed high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. 

Food diary for diabetes

I was diagnosed with diabetes in July 2015 but I couldn't control it with diet so I was put on metformin but that didn't work either. In January 2016, 4 days after I buried my mum I was rushed into the HDU unit of our local hospital with pneumonia and my readings were so erratic, I was going from 3.5 to over 20 in a day, that they would put me on insulin. Even with insulin and trying to monitor my diet my readings were still very variable.

I was referred to a dietician but he was worse than useless, he couldn't seem to get it in his head that I was allergic to wheat gluten, nuts, and had to watch things like spicy or citrus foods. His obsession was with what made a portion of fruit, so I didn't bother with that after a couple of sessions. By this time I was getting really frustrated especially since my ex-husband was also diabetic and could eat more or less what he liked.

After he walked out I asked my son to help me do a food diary and monitor what I eat. We picked up on things like potatoes and mushrooms sent my blood sugar levels up. Thanks to my son Nathan's help my blood sugar levels have stabilised between, on most days, 7 and 12 which is a lot better but I still want to bring them down a bit more. The problem is that because my diabetes was undiagnosed and was all over the place that I have a lot of complications with fatty growths in 1 eye and on my arm, plus numbness in my feet (can't think of the technical name), that sort of thing. 

Try to be positive

As a result of all these things I suffer from depression but am on tablets for it and I always try to be positive. With the reduction in my steroids I have lost weight which is helping my diabetes etc. so that is good. I want to lose more weight so my diet will still need some fine tuning but I am getting there and making plans for the future



on 23/03/2018

I have just watched a documentary called "What the health" on Netflix. well worth a look re diet.

on 24/03/2018

Keep at it Janet you're doing well, when you have a lot of different conditions its hard to tell what's good for you and what's not I know as I have several different conditions myself. I have asthma which I was diagonosed at 2 as well ( apparently  at one time doctors wouldn't diagnose children until they were 2 years old) diabetes T2 since 2010, ulcerative colitis osteoarthritis in both hands and they are clawing and twisting the fingers I was told years ago that I arthritis in the base of my spine high blood pressure and I've been on the sick from work with depression since Feb 2017, I also have insoles in my shoes as my feet are twisting as well. Until the recent snow spell I was trying to do a walk every day for around 15-20 mins every day but I seem to have hurt my ankle so walking any distance is out of question, my wife bought me one of those twist and shapes advertised on TV and I've built up to 20 mins on a morning and evening, the thing with the T &  S is you control how hard you use it and you feel better in yourself so it might be something you might be interested in and they don't take up much room. Good luck Janet take care

on 24/03/2018

Ask your gp about the twist and shape Janet with your hiatus hernia it might not be possible to use it.

on 29/03/2018

Hi Janet,

Keep at it and stay positive. Steroids are killers - they may help initially, but eventually have so many other side effects it's not worth taking them. I have had epilepsy for 44 years now and during each seizure I struggle to breathe, so hate to think what asthma is like to live with. Stay strong and am glad to hear your son is helping you too! 

on 06/04/2018

Hi Janet 

i was diagnosed it must be 5 possibly 6 years ago with COPD . I gave up smoking so only had myself to blame . While working seemed to have chest infection every other month could not fly on holiday without having chest infection before I got off plane . Antibiotics and steroids became the norm . I also have hiatus hernia and take large amounts of medication for this . Just over 4 years ago I ended up in hospital with pneumonia I will say I have never been so frightened . I also put on a lot of weight during this time . From this I was put forward for pulmonary rehab .It took nearly 9 months but can say I have never looked back the best thing I have ever done . I had my gallbladder out in November   2016 and  was diagnosed with spinal fracture in March 2017 .None of this has stop me going to the gym for long . I try to go 3 times a week and do most equipment for 90 minutes at a time . I started Slimming World last year and have lost nearly 3 stone . I also have osteoarthritis in my hands  but at 66 years old I try not to let it stop me . I have gone from severe COPD to moderate . I know it will not fix me but exercise has given me back a life I thought I had lost . My medication comes in a shipping order but it keeps me going and relatively pain free and able to breath . I hope you too can find something that will give you the lift that I get from exercise. I have taken 3 granddaughters swimming today ,they swim under my instruction and I exercise . Something I thought I would not be able to do . I am so much stronger and fitter than I thought I could ever be again . Must add I have never been inside a gym , played sports or done keep fit in my life before . 

You will also like