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Living with diabetes


Diabetes is a “silent killer”.

And with about 2500 people in Wairarapa living with the health condition, it is vital they learn how to manage it, and live the best quality lives they can, according to Diabetes Wairarapa president Finlay Sutherland.

Mr Sutherland, who lives in Masterton was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2009.

“It was certainly a shock to me at the time,” he said.

He was the manager of the distribution centre at Hansells at the time, and said he would become unusually fatigued, sometimes “dropping off to sleep” during a shift.

“My wife twisted my arm to take myself to the doctor, so I went and they diagnosed me.

“The count for sugar level should be around 4-8. Well, I was 21.3.”

Mr Sutherland said it was lifestyle choices like diet and exercise, as well as stress that contributed to type 2 diabetes.

It was soon after his diagnosis that he discovered diabetes played a big role in his family.

“I thought my family was perfect, but then I found that father died of a stroke and heart attack, and he had diabetes all these years – it was diagnosed, but the family didn’t know.

“When we started to go through his side, we realised he had lost two brothers with diabetes.

“It’s a silent killer, and it’s not recognised.

“It affects all your other organs as well if you let it carry on.”

In 2010, Mr Sutherland joined diabetes Wairarapa as a member, and became president at the same time.

“They were a small group back then, down to about 20 members.

“We got up to about 150 members, but now we’re down to just over 100.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been told that there are 2500 people with diabetes in Wairarapa.

“We want to hear from these others.”

Mr Sutherland highly recommends people with diabetes attend a health self-management course coming up in Wairarapa, funded by Compass Health.

He took part in the course last year, and found it very useful in managing his health condition.

“I got a lot of benefit out of the course, and I think a lot of other people would too.”

The course’s introductory session is tomorrow, October 26, but people won’t miss out on too much if they join the following week, organisers say.

The course is free and is designed for those who are affected by pre-diabetes and diabetes.

It teaches a range of self-management techniques including monitoring diabetes, preventing complications, relaxation techniques, medications, working with the healthcare system, nutrition, problem solving, preventing low blood sugar, fitness, and exercises.

The course runs each week at 12.30pm until 3pm from Thursday October 26 to December 7 at Reap House on Queen St in Masterton.

To register your interest contact [email protected].


  1. I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2016. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally i began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do a lot of research. Then I found Lisa’s diabetes story (google ” Lisa amazing diabetes ” ) I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100 and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just three week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds and 6+ inches around my waist in a month. The truth is we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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