Diabetes patient to trek to Mount Everest

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A diabetes patient who is preparing to trek to Mount Everest is taking part in a new scheme at North Bristol NHS Trust to help teenagers with the condition realise their own dreams.

Laura Brown, 25, sets out on her trek to Mount Everest base camp on April 3 and has so far raised £4,000 for the trip and for the charity.

It will take her 11 days to get to base camp on the south side of Everest, 5,850 metres above sea level, and another six to trek down.

Laura, who lives in St Andrews, Bristol, works as a conservation assistant at Tyntesfield House in North Somerset.

Diagnosed with diabetes Type 1 at nine years old, Laura was injecting herself with insulin up to four times a day through her teenage years.

She now gets insulin through a pump which allows her greater freedom from her condition.

Laura said: “I wanted to do some travelling but also do something meaningful, which started me thinking of doing something for Diabetes UK.

“I do a lot of walking in the Welsh mountains and at the moment I am walking for four to six hours to build stamina.

“I’m excited about it but I am nervous, my diabetes means I have to take the pace gradually and making sure I eat and drink regularly is much more important for me.
“It is going to be a challenge but having an insulin pump will help me to manage my diabetes.

“I may have to reduce my insulin daily because the biggest risk could be the altitude having an effect on my blood glucose.”

Laura has spoken to other young diabetes patients at a recent open evening at Southmead Hospital, in Bristol, to show them that the condition doesn’t have to hold them back.

The diabetes adult and paediatric teams at North Bristol NHS Trust are developing their teenage and young adult services.

At the age of around 16 to 17 diabetes patients move from being seen in paediatric clinics to adult clinics and the team at Southmead Hospital want to make this transition smoother.

In January the team held an open evening for young people where former and older patients shared their experiences.

Many of them were at university, had been on adventure holidays around the world, had worked abroad or enjoyed festival trips.

Laura said: “There was a gradual handing over of responsibility of my diabetes as I grew up but the real test was when I went to university.

“Its better to speak to someone who knows the typical stuff that you are learning as a teenager about your self and how it relates to your diabetes, rather than reading a pamphlet.
“When I was a teenager I would not have thought about doing something like trekking to Mount Everest because I would not feel comfortable about my diabetes.”

The diabetes team are hoping to hold another open evening for young people with diabetes and their families in July.

Diabetes Specialist Nurse Debbie Stern, from Southmead Hospital, said: “Understanding the experiences of other people with diabetes is important for teenagers who are becoming more responsible for managing their own condition.

“Adolescence is a challenging part of any teenager’s life which is why the diabetes team want to ensure the transition is a smooth journey from paediatric to adult services.

“These open evenings are a chance for young people with diabetes to find out that the condition does not have to hold you back from achieving your goals.

“The feedback we have had has been great, with people telling us the session has helped them realise they were not alone.”

To donate or find out more about Laura’s trek visit her website at www.justgiving.com/laura2everestbasecamp