People with Diabetes
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Aged 18

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Aged 18 Grace, 2004
 
 
Interview 13 Grace

Person with diabetes
Born in Birmingham in 1931.
Diagnosed Type 1 in Bury St.Edmunds in 1947


Overview: When Grace was diagnosed at the age of 15 her father was working for the Forestry Commission and they lived in a remote Suffolk wood. She was ill for months before diagnosis and thinks this was partly because they lived 4 miles from a GP and 20 miles from a hospital, and because her mother couldn`t face having another sick child after Grace`s sister died from leukaemia. Grace had early cataracts and was registered blind in her teens, but successful treatment throughout the rest of her life has meant that she has always had vision in at least one eye.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 03 August 2004

 Short samples

1 After diagnosis, she spent about 3 weeks in the old West Suffolk hospital in Bury St. Edmunds, which in 1947 was a very bleak place for a child to be [ 59 secs ]

2 Although she has had some bad experiences in hospital, she is full of praise for most doctors, all nurses, and especially for podiatrists [ 55 secs ]

 
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01 Born Birmingham 1931. After war, father suffered from stress & got job with Forestry Commission in remote Suffolk. I left school at 15. Worked in shop. Ill for months before diagnosed: mother couldn`t face 2nd sick child.
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02 Miles from GP & hospital. GP diagnosed. Admitted to West Suffolk hospital. Afraid of staff. Glass of glucose before meals.
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03 Mother & I afraid to ask doctor questions. Told must inject. Diet sheet. No blood testing, only urine.
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04 (Blood test only every 3 months.) In hospital for 3 weeks. Hungry. Ward maid gave more milk. Low carbohydrate, high protein. 3 eggs 1 meal, when post-war rations allowed 1 egg per week. Extra fat rations.
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05 No potato, squash, juice.
Injections no problem. No deliberate hypo. Had hypo soon after diagnosis: dad cycled 4 miles to GP. Only time in hospital with hypo. Mother glad…
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06 …it was me not sister, because sister more active.
Hospital visiting twice weekly: Dad cycled 20 miles. Boss kind because her fiancé died of diabetes in 1920s.
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07 Soon began to lose vision. Months in hospital for “needling” treatment. Loved eye ward. Treatment without anaesthetic unpleasant but successful.
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08 Before needling, registered blind. Glad I didn`t have to be sociable like sister.
Sight from needling lasted to 1964.
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09 No vision in left eye until operation in USA, 1964. Married American airman & went to USA 1952. Returned pregnant 1955. (In USA Air Force hospital once: insulin changed. Wives treated as second-class.)
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10 Haemorrhaged after return. Lost baby, Lakenheath Hospital. No support given.
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11 American Air Force Hospital at Lakenheath thought wives nuisance.
We moved in with my parents. Lost another baby, 1957: head not formed. Good medical care, but no support.
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12 Before USA, we`d been at Greenham Common. Woman from Greenham gave us her baby,1957. Later gave son. Returned to USA, 1960. Had own son 1961. Good care.
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13 Deaths of babies unconnected with diabetes. 3rd birth in military hospital, but wonderful care.
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14 Coped with 3 children & sight in 1 eye. Diabetes not important - better than other illnesses. I`ve been lucky.
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15 Diabetes didn`t stop me doing anything. Voluntary work. Diabetic niece in USA does paid work.
In USA 1961-8. Mainly healthy. Pneumonia in 1967 while husband in Vietnam – 1st of several bouts. No clinic, just GP. No blood test, just urine.
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16 Operation on left eye in Detroit military hospital. Lost way in hospital. Eyesight in both eyes long after return to England.
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17 Returned to Upper Heyford, 1968. No clinic, just American doctor – continued treating me after move to Bicester, 1971 – thought he was in love with me! Transferred to local doctor & Radcliffe Hospital, 1973.
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18 1st time I`d been to specialist diabetic clinic. 6-monthly visit. Medical notes show change to Isophane 80, 1973 and Lente, 1974.
Nurses always good, except on night 1st baby born. Sometimes feel I know more than staff.
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19 Surgeon in USA left me in tears when had breast lump. But most doctors & all nurses good.
Medical notes say “retinal haemorrhage in right eye”…
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20 …in 1983. Both eyes bad, but not registered blind. Usually had one good eye.
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21 Regularly in hospital with pneumonia until injection against it 4 years ago.
Main change in hospitals: informality – good. Tip of toe removed in Radcliffe…
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22 …nice Chinese doctor spent hour discussing pros & cons.
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23 Nurses informal. Surprised what`s allowed compared with 1950s. Only had cause for complaint – dirty bathroom.
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24 Husband & I have had marvellous treatment. Am walking thanks to podiatrist 1993/4.
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25 Seeing podiatrist this afternoon.
No other complications – lucky. Don`t attribute blood pressure to diabetes.
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26 Enjoy life – charity work, social life, dogs. Feet prevent exercise. Blood test 4 times daily: no longer warnings.
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27 Same meter since1970s.
Diet more liberal, but never said “I can`t eat that”. Soon gave up weighing food.
Now Actrapid & Monotard.
Diabetes made no difference to life except…
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28 …feet. Pneumonia unconnected. Not lost sight completely.
Early on saw headline re Prince Charles` birth. Now laser restoring right eye.
Message: don`t let diabetes stop you.
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Transcript
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