By Alex Matthews
A charity campaigner was guzzling 30 litres of water A DAY and dropped to just a size four – because she did not realise she had diabetes.
Tilly Bather, 26, was hit with extreme thirst and waves of exhaustion but still tried to keep up with her hectic schedule.
Tilly, from Leamington Spa, Warks, was almost constantly drinking water and asking every colleague who went to the kitchen to fetch more, becoming a running joke in the office.
She also found size four clothes were hanging off her, meaning she was dwarfed by her size 12 wardrobe.
At first she did not mind the weight loss and thought she could look trim for the summer.
But eventually she dropped to just 8st 6lbs and, at 6ft 1in, was extremely thin.
After struggling for several months to work out what was wrong Tilly had a blood test from her GP and was urged to go to hospital.
At hospital, doctors found her blood sugar levels and ketones – acid in the body – were ‘literally off the chart’.
They swiftly diagnosed her with type one diabetes.
Tilly said: “It was a complete shock when I was diagnosed. I was not expecting it at all.
“I had got used to feeling pretty terrible for a couple of months so was feeling normal for me when I was admitted to A&E.
“When I got to hospital they took me straight to resuscitation.
“They were surprised I was still alive, let alone standing up.
“I heard doctors telling my mum they did not think I would make it through the night.
“It was a real shock because I didn’t feel that much worse to how I normally did.
“I had taken myself to hospital on the tube after meeting a friend.”
Tilly went into hospital on 29 September 2016, but now believes her symptoms first started appearing in March.
She began to lose weight and feel constantly thirsty.
Her huge water intake, which peaked at 30 litres a day, also meant she repeatedly needed the bathroom.
She had short bursts of sickness that left her unable to leave bed, including on one holiday to Brighton to celebrate her birthday.
But she says she put her symptoms down to general sickness and did not think about how much she was drinking at the time
She said: “At first when I started losing weight I didn’t mind. It was nice to look a little thinner.
“At work I had a large water bottle that I would ask people to refill whenever they went to the kitchen.
“It became a running joke in the office but I really didn’t think about it. But I must have been drinking 30 litres a day.
“I got so used to feeling rubbish that any bout of sickness was unremarkable. I just got on with my day.
“With hindsight I had all the classic diabetes symptoms.
“But when you’re busy with life you just don’t think.”
Tilly has since come to terms with managing her diabetes symptoms but is urging more support for suffers.
Acknowledging that diabetes research and management has come a long way, she wishes there was more information given to help patients who are first diagnosed.
She is also campaigning for a special blood sugar monitor, the Dexcom G5, was made available to everyone so they could constantly feel more secure.
Tilly currently pays £160 per month out of her own pocket for the device.
Tilly said: “When I was released from hospital I didn’t feel like I had anywhere near enough information.
“That night I went for a meal and had bread and pasta and did not inject enough insulin and landed straight back in A&E.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people with diabetes, and most people say the treatment seems to be focused on keeping us out of hospital rather than making us well.
“And if you can’t monitor your blood sugar constantly it can be quite dangerous.
“You could have a sudden drop and pass out in the street.
“That’s why these monitors could change so many people’s lives, and I really think they need to be made available on the NHS.
“It has saved my life, and it gives you so much more confidence knowing you can detect in advance if something is going wrong.”
Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said: “Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) can have huge benefits for some people with diabetes and advancements in this area of management and technology are evolving rapidly.
“We are aware that access to CGM is varied and patchy across the UK and are calling for commissioners and health boards to review their policies to ensure people who would benefit from using this technology are able to access it on the NHS for free.”
A spokesperson for North Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The Regional Medicines Optimisation Committee reviewed the use of the flash glucose monitoring system in October 2017. Following this the Area Prescribing Committee (APC) issued advice to South Warwickshire CCG and its GP members.
“NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is now looking at the APC’s recommendations alongside considering clinical evidence. We want to ensure equality of access across south Warwickshire.
“Therefore we are recommending the Freestyle Libre monitoring systems are not prescribed until we have considered all the evidence and defined the patient cohort (both adult and paediatric patients) which is likely to gain most benefit from this new technology.”