Ian Dempsey: ‘Everything in moderation’


I was on holiday in France in 2008 with my family. I was feeling really tired all the time, drinking a lot of liquids and sweating a lot. I was also going to the loo many times at night and I was finding it hard to sleep as a result.

I remember being at Orly airport and wiping myself down with a towel because I was so sweaty. I put it down to the heat.

When I came home, I went to my GP and he sent me to the Blackrock Clinic straight away. He said my glucose and cholesterol levels were absolutely mad. The consultant wanted to send my readings, as an anonymous person, off for research; they were that high.

I was starting to feel guilty and I was wondering if it was a lifestyle issue. I was quite heavy at the time. My doctor told me that I had to change the way I ate and I was told to cut down on drinking.

I was introduced to a dietician and nutritionist and told about the food pyramids. Every child should know this from school but in my day it didn’t happen.

In the radio industry there is always a lunch on somewhere or a reception on in the evening. I was part of that but when you do breakfast programmes, as I have been doing for the past 25 years, you don’t get out that often but I enjoyed my nights out. I enjoyed a few pints and good food as much as anyone.

Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle thing but my doctor has told me that there was much more than that. Lifestyle could not explain the levels I had at the time.

I had little lumps on my elbows and my knees which were pure cholesterol. That was just plain weird.

I learned to inject myself on a daily basis. Most people associate daily injections with type 1 diabetes but I’m assured by my consultant that I am type 2. I inject only 10 units of insulin a day which I do at 5pm every day and I take Glucophage first thing in the morning. It takes getting used to at the beginning.

When you are first diagnosed, you take it very seriously and you control your diet accordingly but after a while maybe a little bit of complacency comes into it. But it has been so far, so good for me.

I was warned about hypoglycemic episodes where you can go into a coma but that has not happened to me.

Sometimes I get really tired and I have a rest. So far I have been very lucky about it.

I was never the sporty type but I walk more than I did. I have started doing the stairs rather than the lifts.

Food-wise I’m much more aware of what I eat. I’m much less into processed food. I believe the more chopping you have to do for food, the better.

Having said that, I’d still be prone to having a few sausages. I believe in everything in moderation – which includes moderation.

Type 2 diabetes is a massive problem nowadays. I’m often asked to do things in relation to diabetes but sometimes I’m reluctant. There are thousands of people in Ireland affected by it, many worse than me.

I’ve been told it is a life sentence, not a death sentence. I think there has to be a huge policy change in just getting people out and about, though I think it is changing with the number of people cycling and doing other exercises.
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