People with Diabetes
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Around time of diagnosis

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Around time of diagnosis Agnes, 2004
 
 
Interview 32 Agnes

Person with diabetes
Born in St. Kitts in 1938.
Diagnosed Type 2 in Birmingham in 1983


Overview: Agnes` father worked in sugar cane fields in St. Kitts and her mother in the markets. Agnes worked as a maid until coming to England aged 22. She has been married twice and has five children. She controlled her diabetes with tablets, apart from a short spell on insulin while being treated for cancer. At the time of recording, she had recovered from cancer, but was about to go on insulin permanently. At 66, she still gets up at 4.30 every morning to work as a cleaning supervisor and mobile carer, and says her Christian faith sustains her.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 06 December 2004

 Short samples

1 After Agnes came to England, her mother developed diabetes, and Agnes regularly returned home to see her. She was shocked by the way her mother was treated in hospital and by the reluctance of her family to question that treatment [ 52 secs ]

2 She feels that people in the West Indies are ashamed of illness and that this prevents them from seeking medical help when they come to this country [ 48 secs ]

 
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01 Dad worked sugar cane, Mum in markets. Father strict. England aged 22. Siblings left too, because employment limited. Worked as maid before came to England. Left school early…
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02 …No-one made me stay on. Loved running. Attended Anglican church. Childhood seemed happy at time. Children in St. Kitts now…
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03 …imitate American TV – guns etc.
Ate sugar cane, fruit.
Diagnosed after big baby. Mother died 1982. Diagnosed after return from St. Kitts, 1983. Don`t know re family diabetes – questions discouraged.
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04 Came here 1960. Mother diagnosed, St. Kitts, 1965/6 - bad treatment. I visited before she died. Doctors said kidney trouble. Dad said shouldn`t ask questions.
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05 Mum died before my next visit - on insulin 1st, then tablets. Questions discouraged – so I won`t live there. Family didn`t take illness seriously. Illness causes shame – even for West Indians here.
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06 As mobile carer, I visit West Indian lady – secretive re illness. I know what`s wrong from 19 years caring. West Indian people use illness against you in argument. Shame prevents help.
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07 Arrived here 1960 – thought houses factories. Laundry, then Birmingham factories. 2 children in 1st marriage, divorced, then 3 children in current marriage. Cleaned Selly Oak Hospital, then nursing home…
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08 …then mobile care. Took son with me. Always working.
English people nice. Ignore racism.
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09 Knew husbands from West Indies. 1st started having affairs, so divorced.
Felt thirsty. Working at Selly Oak – nurse asked re urine. GP had said OK.
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10 Nurse said ask for blood test. Instead, visited St. Kitts. On return, diagnosed during D & C. Symptoms months before. Children banned me from kitchen; lost weight; then tablets gradually increased.
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11 Doctor recommended insulin year ago, but I wasn`t ready. Now going on insulin. Was on insulin 1997-8 during cancer treatment.
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12 Had lump but didn`t want to take doctors` time. Had part removed…
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13 …cancerous. Chemotherapy. Told everyone – no shame – helped recovery?. Tell everyone to get help. Husband didn`t accompany me to hospital – children did.
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14 Treatment made sugars high, so went on insulin. Didn`t work - because injected at wrong times? Hope better this time.
Tested blood frequently - fingers infected – now test twice weekly…
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15 …new machine.
I decided blood sugars justified insulin year after suggested by consultant. Medical staff nice.
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16 1983, didn`t ask questions - do now. Doctors know more than nurses. Specialist nurses will give insulin training. Don`t need to alter type of food - just eat less.
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17 Dieting difficult – hungry.
Steam food, separately from family food.
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18 Won`t adjust insulin – I`d eat more.
Always had exercise. No car in St.Kitts. Aged 9, did housework – punished if done badly. Here, sewed to 2/3 am then back up at 5 am. Didn`t have car. Now cleaning supervisor & mobile carer. Leave house 4.30 am 6 mornings, clean, then breakfast, then caring.
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19 Sleep in afternoons, then caring 4 evenings. Only had 1 hypo – recognise symptoms.
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20 See GP re colds. Hospital twice yearly for diabetes, once for eye check-up after laser, once for cancer – now unnecessary. No other problems. Relatives now have diabetes.
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21 Husband now diabetic – doesn`t take my advice!
Advice: know your body.
Without diabetes would eat more. Diabetes & cancer didn`t stop me working.
Children helped diet. Diagnosed in 1983 after big baby in 1979.
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22 Now aged 66. Hoped to retire to West Indies, but not since cancer. Clients deteriorate after retirement. Still have much to give to them. Christian faith helps.
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Transcript
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