People with Diabetes
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One year after diagnosis

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One year after diagnosis Margaret in 2004, holding Nabarro and Lawrence medals Lawrence medal (left) and Nabarro medal
 
 
Interview 7 Margaret Williamson

Person with diabetes
Born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1928.
Diagnosed Type 1 in Yarm, North Yorks in 1939


Overview: Margaret Williamson was brought up in a village in North Yorkshire, the only daughter of an industrial chemist. Her mother was diagnosed with diabetes when Margaret was aged 2, and put on a diet of no carbohydrate with high quantities of insulin. When Margaret was diagnosed, a Newcastle consultant, James Spence, put mother and daughter on a more modern regime of high carbohydrate, which was weighed at each meal. After school, she went to business college in London, and worked as a secretary for directors of scientific institutions. She married a Cambridge research scientist and had two children.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 21 May 2004

 Short samples

1 She was diagnosed after the outbreak of war, and has vivid memories of her wartime diabetic diet at a boarding school in Harrogate [ 51 secs ]

2 In adult life, she has enjoyed much foreign travel with her husband, but she feels that diabetes has deprived her of spontaneity [ 53 secs ]

 
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01 Born North Yorkshire, 1928, only child of industrial chemist. Mother diabetic since I was 2, & spotted that I was. Took me to James Spence at Newcastle. Before that, mother on high insulin & no carbohydrate. Spence put us both on high carbohydrate.
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02 Weighed food for about 2 years, until could judge without. James Spence frightening but…
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03 good beginning to managing diabetes. Used letter scales to weigh. Mother taught me to inject. Urine testing with Fehling`s solution. Monitored by parents.
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04 Friends nearby not bothered by diabetes. Boarding school matron thought it would be a nuisance. Unsweetened rhubarb every day.
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05 Generous wartime rations. Mother posted eggs to school. School evacuated to castle.
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06 Castle very cold. Played team sports. Few hypos. Spence didn`t give deliberate hypo.
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07 Producing urine samples at school embarrassing – sent away for testing. No wartime problems with insulin supply.
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08 No fear of invasion in north.
No longer weighed food, just judged it. Never altered insulin. Ate more before exercise.
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09 Moved to another school for 6th form. Evacuated to Lake District. Happier because not made to feel different, as in previous school. Took charge of own injection equipment.
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10 Went to business college in London, then worked as director`s secretary, then university principal`s secretary. At college, lots of ex-service people.
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11 Food no problem. Got job in Cambridge as scientific laboratory director`s secretary. Married research scientist,1954. Husband did military service at Harwell. Son born in Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, by caesarian. Husband returned to Cambridge job. Daughter born, Addenbrookes Hospital, 1958, caesarian.
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12 Radcliffe nurses knew little about diabetes. I always find I know more. At Cambridge also, diabetic mothers knew more.
Moved to Malvern. Attended diabetic clinic at Worcester. Went up to two injections per day.
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13 As children grew up, had holidays abroad. Managed to cope with diet & insulin.
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14 Eyes treated in Bristol: cataracts removed. Blood pressure all right.
Medics don`t realise I`ve had diabetes for 65 years.
They`ve always treated me kindly.
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15 Diabetes has made my life ordered, lacking in spontaneity.
I`ve travelled a lot & in 1981 wrote unpublished article about crossing time zones for “Balance”.
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16 Reads from article
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17 Continues to read
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18 Continues to read. Travel easier than in 1981 because of ease of blood testing. & disposable syringes.
We don`t mention I`m diabetic until we know friend well.
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19 My youth wasn`t fun, but adult life has been. Have Nabarro & Lawrence medals.
Advice for newly-diagnosed: find out about it.
Diabetes doesn`t dominate my life, but always at back of mind.
Now take isophane twice daily & get exercise walking on Malverns & looking after house & garden.
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Transcript
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