Darren’s journey to diabetes remission!

Darren is a person we support at Markham House, one of our specialist brain injury rehabilitation services in Nottinghamshire. He suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was involved in a road traffic collision in 1991.  

After his accident, Darren was in a coma and stayed in hospital for 13 months. When he was eventually discharged, he returned home to be supported by his family. But managing Darren’s needs became difficult and it became clear he needed professional support.

For many years, Darren moved between different care providers. He couldn’t settle into any of his homes and his quality of life rapidly slipped away from him. A once vibrant, active man began to fade, and his emotional wellbeing suffered.  

Darren eventually reached a point where he required support for the rest of his life. Knowing Darren was destined for more, his family contacted Voyage Care. They were confident our person-centred approach would help him regain the quality of life he had lost over the years.

And Darren knew he had a bright future too. Ten years after he moved into Markham House, with the faith of his support team, and his own gritty determination, Darren wrapped up 2023 by ticking off a big goal that would redefine his future.  

Always on the go

Before his accident, Darren was an active person – he was always on the go. Working as a labourer, bricklayer, and a window cleaner, he wasn’t one to stand still! He even moonlighted as a Security Guard for clubs and pubs in his local area. Like any young man his age, he also had a busy social life. He enjoyed jetting off on regular overseas holidays and going out to music venues at the weekends with his friends.

A picture of Darren, a person we support at Markham House. Text reads, "Darren's quality of life was rapidly slipping away form him. A once vibrant, active man began to fade. Although Darren would need support for the rest of his life, with the right approach, regaining quality of life was within his grasp."

An avid footballer, Darren regularly played in matches for a couple of local clubs. His passion for the sport ran deep and he even held a season ticket for his favourite team, Nottingham Forest, for many years.

After Darren sustained his brain injury, this active lifestyle came to a halt. His brain injury affected him in many ways. He had a metal plate inserted in his head and suffered paralysis down the left side of his body. He encountered problems with his sight and speech and suffered from dysphagia.

After many years of moving between care providers, it was clear the needs of his condition were not being fully met. Darren was deeply unsettled, and he had no opportunities to start a rehabilitation journey. Then, in 2013, he moved to Markham House, and this marked a moment of significant change in many ways.

Moving to Markham House

Despite his other conditions, Darren was fully mobile when he first arrived at Markham House. He was able to walk with the occasional aid of a stick. Over several years though, his mobility declined. Darren and his team regularly attended appointments with his GP to get to the bottom of this issue. Eventually, in 2017, Darren was diagnosed with Type 1-Diabetes.

Losing his ability to walk independently, Darren needed a wheelchair to mobilise. This knocked his confidence, and he became increasingly isolated – often retreating to the sanctuary of his bedroom.

Since he arrived at our service, Darren’s team took the time to get to know him as a person. They know his likes, dislikes, as well as what his life was like before his injury. With expert training and hearts full of compassion, Darren’s support team at Markham House understood how deeply this would have affected Darren.

Armed with this knowledge, they identified the effect his loss of mobility was having and how he might have been struggling to accept his diabetes diagnosis.

Putting Darren at the centre of his support, they encouraged him to start looking to the future and set some goals. Thinking about his ambitions, and always up for a hearty challenge, this sparked a renewed and determined Darren!

He aimed sky high with his goals! First on his list was to reverse his diabetes and come off his insulin. Darren’s support team had every faith that, with some lifestyle changes and additional support, he could accomplish this goal soon.  

With no hesitation, Darren and his team set to work. They cocreated a support plan with him that would help him take small steps to smash his big goal.    ­

A picture of Darren, a person we support, with two support workers. Text reads, "Darren's team got to know him as an individual. They understood how deeply affected he was when he lost his mobility. With their expert training, and hearts full off compassion, they supported Darren to set goals and start focusing on the future."

Darren’s diagnosis

Although Darren’s diabetes was diagnosed sometime after his brain injury, it was attributed to the impact it had on his body.

Detected during routine blood tests, his results showed abnormally high blood glucose levels. At first, he didn’t receive any medical treatment and his team managed his blood sugar through changes in his diet.  

Successfully altering his diet with the support of his team, Darren’s blood glucose levels were stable until 2020 when, one day, his health unexpectedly deteriorated.

While enjoying a sunny day in the garden, Darren suddenly became unresponsive. The team at Markham House quickly called for an ambulance. Arriving at the hospital in a critical condition, Darren’s life was in danger, and he had to be resuscitated.

After many tests, he was diagnosed with Ketoacidosis, a serious complication of diabetes. This condition meant Darren’s immune system was attacking his pancreas and it suffered severe damage.

Remaining in hospital until he was fit enough to return home, Darren was finally diagnosed with Autoimmune Insulin Dependent Diabetes. It was at this point that Darren became insulin dependent and was discharged on a high dose of insulin. But Darren’s glucose levels kept rising and so did his insulin.

He wasn’t disheartened. Determined to take charge of his condition, he wanted to administer his own insulin. Since he only has use of his right arm, his team supported him to do his own injections by setting them up and monitoring him while he did them.

Empowering Darren to fulfil his new health ambitions, they also supported him to make more dietary changes.

A serial breakfast-skipper, Darren used to stay in bed until lunchtime. With prompts and encouragement from his team, he started to get up earlier. Previously grazing throughout the day, he started limiting his snacks, opting for healthier nibbles, and making a conscious effort to eat regular, nutritious meals.

A change for life

Alongside his diabetes diagnosis came a big lifestyle change for Darren. As he has dysphagia, the process of changing his diet needed handling carefully. Initially receiving support from a community Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) team, Darren’s support team were confident they could adapt his diabetes diet to suit his dysphagia needs.

Continuing to encourage Darren to make healthy decisions, the team at Markham House respect that the ultimate decision is his. And, if Darren’s craving something that doesn’t fit in with his feeding guidelines, his team do what they can to cook up something to satisfy his palate!   

“Darren loves roast potatoes, but they aren’t within his dysphagia guidelines. So, we cook them for him and ensure they’re not too crispy. He’s on soft bite-sized pieces, so we make sure they fit these criteria.”

– Sarah Leahy, Therapy Lead at Markham House.

As a result of these small changes, Darren’s lost an impressive three stone in three years. More recently, his blood sugar levels reduced to the point where they were in a ‘normal’ range. So now, he no longer needs his insulin!

Gradually reducing his insulin and monitoring his blood glucose levels, Darren’s team worked with his doctor to help him over the last hurdle and reach his goal.

Within just a few weeks, Darren was officially insulin free!

A picture of Darren, a person we support, with two support workers. Text reads, "Ten years after he moved into Markham House, with the faith of his support team, and his own gritty determination, Darren wrapped up 2023 by ticking off a goal that would redefine his future!"

Man on a mission

Darren was fiercely independent before his accident. But his diabetes took its toll on his body. Losing his mobility, he felt as though his freedom had faded away.  

Setting his goal of coming off his insulin ignited a fire in Darren. And, once he was declared insulin free, a spark of hope and determination for an amazing future was lit.

When he’s not singing on a karaoke machine or spinning around the kitchen to his favourite radio station, Darren’s working with his support team to reach his next goal – to walk again.

With careful planning, and Darren’s drive and dedication, his team are confident that he can take the right steps and tick this ambitious goal off his list too!  

Find out more about our specialist brain injury support

To find out more about our specialist brain injury support and how we can help you, a loved one, or a client, fill out our simple enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch.

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