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With her mother in Singapore c1956

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With her mother in Singapore c1956 In Singapore, c1955 Amy Yau at home, 2005
 
 
Interview 41 Amy Yau

Person with diabetes
Born in Singapore in 1942.
Diagnosed Type 1 in Singapore in 1954


Overview: Amy Yau`s mother was a stenographer; her father was a health inspector, and they both came from mixed race backgrounds. Amy was born in Singapore, just before it was invaded by the Japanese, and was saved by the presence in her household of her Japanese grand-mother and great-aunt. She came to England to train as a nurse in 1960 and married a few years later. Her husband originates from mainland China and opened the first Chinese restaurant in Malvern. She helped out in the restaurant while her children were growing up and then returned to nursing.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 26 January 2005

 Short samples

1 One of the first signs of diabetes in hot climates is when ants are attracted to the diabetic’s sweet urine, but Amy’s family failed to discover the cause. [ 57 secs ]

2 In 1992, she changed from animal insulin to Human Actrapid and Monotard, and found she no longer had the familiar symptoms that had warned her of a hypo. [ 58 secs ]

 
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01 Born Singapore, 1942 . Mixed-race. Mother stenographer, father health inspector. I was born just before Singapore fell…
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02 …to Japanese. Not slaughtered because grand-mother Japanese.
Had 2 servants.
Father thought diabetes stemmed from my getting dysentery, aged 2. Aged 3 or 4, visited Japanese grand-mother & great-aunts in British POW camp.
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03 1 sister, 1 brother. Roman Catholic education. Diagnosed age 12 – weight loss & spine tilting. Aunt took me to clinic…
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04 …for school-children, where she nursed. Referred for physiotherapy.
Ants round toilet – adults in family tested, not me.
Taken to hospital with coma, 1954. German doctor diagnosed. Started insulin.
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05 Childhood diabetes unknown.
In hospital, learnt to weigh food portions, inject, test urine. Doctors learnt about childhood diabetes.
Diet no problem.
Put on weight; spine straightened; laughed!
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06 School-friends looked after me. Did sports, picnicked, swam. Left school, 1958. Nursing training refused because of diabetes. One year secretarial – boring.
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07 Aunt nursing in England enquired re training. I came 1960, to train as nurse at Weston-super-Mare. Changed from rice to potatoes – weighed.
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08 Mothered by Nigerian room-mate. Had 1st hypo, in night – cleaner thought I`d died.
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09 Insulin & meals at fixed times. Managed night duties. Nursed Thalidomide babies in Bristol. Completed general training, 1963. Began midwifery training, Birmingham, 1964.
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10 Postgraduate training, Great Ormond Street children`s hospital 1965-6; then Stourbridge hospital; then appointed Sister at East Birmingham Hospital. Married & left Birmingham before son born in 1969.
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11 Husband opened 1st Chinese restaurant in Malvern. Son born by caesarean. 3 weeks later, hospitalised with hypo.
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12 At home at 1st, then in restaurant. Parents came, 1971. Daughter born by caesarean, 1973. Worked in restaurant – parents minded children. Third child born, 1977. Sterilised. Back to restaurant.
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13 1969, Lente and Semilente. 1973, protamine zinc. 1992, Actrapid & Monotard – lost hypo warnings. Not allowed return to porcine insulin. Then doctor allowed me to change back – warnings returned.
Mother had stroke, 2003. (I`d returned to nursing.)
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14 Went between mother`s ward & ward where I worked. Mother admitted to residential home, then readmitted to hospital. I worked in same hospital.
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15 Was called to her ward & nursed her. Colleagues gave me breakfast & insulin. She died while I was going home. Broke news to my son.
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16 Upset led to raised sugars. Specialist nurse advised changing injection site – sugars went down. She recommended Glargine. I was afraid of losing warnings again. Tried it. Good results at subsequent check-ups.
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17 Porcine Neutral before 3 meals & Glargine before bed. Hypos without warnings – fell & fractured ankle. Rang specialist nurse…
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18 …didn`t return call. Rang Primary Care, Boots, clinic. Altered insulin amounts – sugars still low early morning. Specialist nurse lost temper – I cried. Returned to porcine 5 days ago – OK so far.
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19 Used NovoPen since 1994 – easier because can hear click.
Glucose strips better than Clinitest tablets. Main diet rice. No longer weigh. Gradually learnt to adjust insulin to allow occasional treats. Can`t exercise with injured ankle…
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20 …but usually active.
Chiropodist good.
Retired July 2004, after 2 falls.
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21 Often drive to see children & grandchildren. Grandson has Type 1 diabetes. Gave up restaurant c.10 years ago.
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22 Easier now – pens, blood testing, no weighing, NovoRapid enables kids to eat out.
Hard when tired, but must have meal & injection before bed.
Diabetes no problem except recent worry re human insulin.
Some nurses know little re diabetes.
Syringes & needles free.
I live for family.
Advice: live to full. Be careful.
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Transcript
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