People with Diabetes
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Fred (holding conker) around age of diagnosis

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Fred (holding conker) around age of diagnosis Fred with some of his garden furniture
 
 
Interview 14 Fred

Person with diabetes
Born in Newbury in 1942.
Diagnosed Type 1 in Reading in 1956


Overview: Fred`s family was poor and food was rationed in his early years: he remembers that a Mars bar was cut into slices to last 4 or 5 days! After diagnosis, he was told that `I had to control the diabetes rather than the diabetes control me` and has tried to follow that advice ever since. He lost his sight in 1978 and his second wife left him because she couldn`t cope. He began a successful business making garden furniture and now lives with his third wife, who is also blind.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 09 August 2004

 Short samples

1 For a teenage diabetic there was a lot to learn in the 1950s - not just about injections, blood testing and diet, but also about how to sterilise a glass syringe and needles [ 48 secs ]

2 Fred has had several stays in hospital in recent years and has noticed “less and less staff doing more and more work”. However, one area of improvement has been the training given to staff on how to help people with visual impairment [ 43 secs ]

 
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01 Born 1942, poor family, rural area. Older brother fighting in war. Father worked for council. Wartime rationing. Weekly bus to town.
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02 Mars bar lasted 5 days! Village school, then secondary modern school, then day-release course.
Diagnosed at 13 after accident. Mum read “Home Doctor”, called GP, sent to hospital 18 miles away. Recently consultant said accident only part cause. No diabetes in family.
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03 Prospect Park Hospital, Reading. Frightened by display of ancient syringes! Men in ward friendly. Glass syringes & Clinitest. Told I must control diabetes, not let it control me.
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04 Detailed diet. Carried sugar. Taught to sterilise syringe & needles. Zinc Lente insulin injected in leg…
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05 …easier than arm because of length of needle & syringe. Memories of Clinitest. Mother sterilised & controlled diet…
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06 …used saccharin. Diabetes rare, but family adjusted. Hospital gave scales, but soon judged food by sight. Adjusted insulin to enable sports…
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07 Royal Berks Hospital, Reading, increased insulin as grew older. Didn`t adjust insulin day to day. People at school unaware of diabetes.
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08 Teachers knew, others didn`t. Closest friends told to give sweet or sugar. Lots of sport. Never unconscious at school.
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09 First hypo 5 years ago. Always had warning signs. Only missed school for check-ups.
Left school at 15 to work in furniture factory. Stayed for 6 months.
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10 Long hours difficult, so moved to furniture shop. In factory, told people re sugar. In shop job, bought chocolate for energy when delivering furniture. People didn`t understand effect delayed.
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11 Did sports. Careful re alcohol. Played darts. Moved to work in department store. Friends puzzled when stopped cycling to take sugar.
Girlfriend`s parents tried to end relationship because of diabetes.
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12 Married at 26. Still working in department store. Holidays in caravan. Once had to return because forgot needles & no chemist open on Sunday.
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13 Divorced in early 30s. Living alone hard with diabetes. Re-married. Went blind & gave up job as sign-writer. Wife couldn`t cope & left. Alone again.
Eye problem began Christmas 1977. Went to optician at hospital clinic.
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14 Lost sight quickly.
1st marriage not affected by diabetes: she preferred someone else. 2nd marriage ended 1982. 3rd wife blind also – met through blind club. I`d started garden furniture business & made sandpit for her son. Husband having affair & they divorced. We both work at home.
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15 Went on RNIB woodwork course. Make garden seats etc. Earn enough. Exhibit locally. Job satisfaction.
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16 Make seats as prizes for White Cane Award. Work featured in media. Social services phone re helping other blind people.
Laser treatment new when lost sight . Went to Moorfields & St. Barts.
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17 Nothing they could do. Someone at Hammersmith referred me to Radcliffe, end 1978. Changed insulin. Experimental NovoPen & talking blood test machine gave independence, 1988/9. (With old disposable syringes, needed nurse to inject & couldn`t travel.)
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18 Experimental operation to drain eye, Oxford Eye Hospital, c.1990: worked for while, then artificial eye.
About 4 years ago, blister on toe treated at local hospital. Referred to Radcliffe. Had turned into ulcer…
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19 …MRSA. Toe amputated. In hospital 8 weeks for MRSA. Problems with feet since.
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20 Take care.
Money put into NHS doesn`t show on wards. Staff work longer hours. Outpatients busier. Never see same person.
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21 Long waits. Disadvantage of seeing different podiatrists.
Diabetics didn`t like pork insulin but now adjusted.
Old NovoPen clicked…
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22 new model harder for blind. Local Superdrug found alternative equipment. Mixtard insulin.
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23 Works well, but disposable plastic not so accurate as metal NovoPen.
Urine test only at hospital. Talking blood test machine since 1988/9.
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24 More diet foods available. Hospital food good. Staff helpful over blindness.
My own GP marvellous…
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25 …friendly. Takes blood pressure at home. Surgery friendly. In hospital, nurses helpful – give me own room; more caring since blind; more recent training to help blind people.
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26 Hotel for blind caters for diabetics. In cafes, diabetics use NovoPen before pudding.
Occasionally imagine life without diabetes. Take syringe to outpatients, because sometimes admitted straightaway. Lucky: well-controlled until recently. People visit workshop…
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27 …more ill than me. Message: if you`re careful, can lead normal life.
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Transcript
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