People with Diabetes
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With parents and sisters,1951

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With parents and sisters,1951 Patrick Grogan, 2004 18. 01 1960s  syringe
18. 02 1970s - Patrick Grogan`s syringe and case 18. 03 1980s  needles 18. 04 1986 needle
 
 
Interview 18 Patrick Grogan

Person with diabetes
Born in Bexley, Kent in 1935.
Diagnosed Type 1 in Bexley, Kent in 1948


Overview: Patrick Grogan was treated at King`s College Hospital by R.D. Lawrence (co-founder of the British Diabetes Association, now Diabetes UK) and he remembers Lawrence commenting on the amount of carbohydrate at a hospital Christmas party. He has always kept to a healthy diet, has had lots of exercise as a machine-tool fitter and maintenance worker, and has had no diabetic complications. He`s a member of NHS Concern and the West Midlands Pensioners Convention and says that taking an interest in improving society is what keeps him going.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 16 September 2004

 Short samples

1 When he was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 13, post-war rationing was still in operation, and his local GP put him on an extremely limited diet [ 59 secs ]

2 He used to sterilise his glass syringe by boiling it in a saucepan and welcomed the introduction of disposable plastic syringes. However, he hasn’t changed to using a pen - partly because he doesn’t want to cause the health service extra expense [ 57 secs ]

 
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01 Born Bexley,1935. Dad heating engineer. Mother housewife. 2 sisters. Moved to Birmingham…
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02 …1950. Diagnosed aged 13. GP said eat cabbage. (Rationing still on.) Lost half stone before admitted to hospital.
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03 Dr. Lawrence at King`s College Hospital. Passed out. Given injection & felt better quickly. Ate first meal for days.
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04 Nurse said insulin forever. Gave me syringe - no practice. Allowed to walk about. Saw diabetic baby. Discharged after 3 or 4 weeks. Returned fortnightly until left school at 15.
Lawrence big man, one eye. At Christmas party he commented on carbohydrates.
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05 Brilliant man.
Everything weighed. Top cut off slice bread. Book of food values. Rations allowed extra meat & cheese, no sugar.
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06 Little fruit. When sweets came into shop in war, queues formed.
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07 Food values taught to me & parents. Mother weighed. She & sister later got diabetes, also aunt on father`s side. Different diet in past - no ready meals, no freezers…
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08 …either grew food or bought in season. Swapped rations e.g. soap for tea. Clothing rationed.
Diabetes started suddenly. Had rubella…
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09 …6 months after measles. Weakened immune system?
Urine testing. Later, doctor at Birmingham General Hospital found no point in testing my urine because low threshold meant always positive.
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10 Gave up urine testing. Relied on feelings. Blood tests only at hospital - long queues.
Twice daily injections (zinc protamine) at Kings & ever since. Don`t let diabetes rule you.
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11 Products labelled now: avoid sugar or eat less. Diabetic foods unnecessary.
Family adjusted to diet. No supermarkets.
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12 No large stores.
Ate less of what family eating: strict.
People didn`t understand. Aged 14, teacher taught class re diabetes. (No sex lessons.)
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13 At school, sugars high. (Checked at hospital – visits more frequent then.) Father wrote to say I could eat in lessons. Home for lunch. Sports. Some GPs ignorant. I have to tell them…
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14 …GPs learnt from patients. Hospital staff didn`t forbid things. Dieticians saw new patients. Didn`t smoke or drink. Didn`t talk re diabetes. Hate people who talk re illness. Did tell employers - might need time off…
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15 …collapsed twice when building machine tools, early ‘70s: nurse needed to know. Diabetes affected choice of work because wanted to be active to keep fit.
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16 After left school, watch-repairing, instrument-making, then maintenance work until retirement.
Married 1968. Wife panicked. Now copes & knows when sugars low.
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17 Couldn`t tolerate human insulin – no warnings. Passed out. Doctor explained how human differs from animal insulin.
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18 Company threatened to withdraw animal. Human insulin suits most, but not all. I tried human, 1980s, but no warnings. (Sister feels hungry when low.) On present insulin…
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19 …feel shaky when sugar low. Blood test. Always eat before going out & carry food & insulin: don`t let diabetes govern you.
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20 Hospital doctor fine re abandoning human insulin.
Specialist nurse explained should change injection site. Hadn`t been told. Changed. Needed less insulin.
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21 Insulin worked better: I was around 50. I`d been to hospital, but GPs not responsible. System changing: Primary Care Trust allocates money, foundation hospitals owned privately, fewer acute beds.
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22 Foundation hospitals built over budget.
For long time, had no way of testing blood sugar. Bought meter when became cheaper.
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23 Most people can afford them. Hospital gives them to those on low income.
Medical staff never asked if I changed injection site…
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24 …probably thought someone had told me. Consultants mostly good: many have diabetes. Nurses good: trained re diabetes.
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25 Waiting times shorter. I`m member of NHS Concern & West Midlands Pensioners Convention. (No stigma attached to mental health problems.)
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26 I`m laid back.
Charity collections – put something back into society.
Life with diabetes easier. More food choice. I`ve no complications.
Porridge for breakfast…
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27 …fruit & vegetables.
Inject morning & evening. Increase insulin if ill. Actrapid & Insulatard. Plastic syringes. Before used glass syringe with surgical spirit – harmful.
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28 Boiled syringe & used 6-12 months. Used disposable syringes up to a week. Replace more often now. Asked re pen & nurse said not available for my type insulin. Not true, but stay with syringe - used to it.
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29 Pen better but don`t want to cause health service extra expense.
I walk, garden, attend meetings. Diabetes hasn`t stopped me.
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30 Pensions low. Used to be allowance for diabetics, stopped because food now lower proportion of income. But food still high proportion of pensioner`s income.
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31 MPs don`t know re National Insurance fund. Should be free travel for pensioners, as in Birmingham – idea from me and my father c.1958 – members of Labour Party.
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32 Not frightened of diabetes. Life interesting – lots to do to improve it.
Advice: check sugar, follow treatment. Advice to medics – listen. Don`t force people - persuade them.
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33 Not member of Diabetes UK. Stopped getting “Balance” - repeated things & I was short of money. Don`t believe in medals – don`t deserve them.
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Transcript
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Extras
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