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Rachel (left) and Anna, c 1974

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Rachel (left) and Anna, c 1974 Rachel`s mother-in-law with grandson, 2003 Rachel, 2007
 
 
Interview 77 Rachel

Family member
Born in Broxbourne, Herts in 1964.


Overview: In 1996, Rachel volunteered to work on a diabetes helpline, because she felt she`d learnt so much about diabetes from her family. Her older brother, Tom, and younger sister, Anna, were both diagnosed in their teens. Her parents were less traumatised by the second diagnosis and Rachel wonders if this explains the different ways in which her siblings have managed their diabetes. She has also observed how her brother has handled his own son`s diabetes; how a close friend coped with her child`s diagnosis; and how her mother-in-law struggled with Type 2 diabetes in her later years.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 20 September 2007

 Short samples

1 Rachel was eight when Tom was diagnosed in 1973 and eighteen when Anna was diagnosed in 1982. She has noticed how differently they have responded to having diabetes, both in their teens and in adult life. [ 59 secs ]

2 Rachel’s mother-in-law, Margaret, was diagnosed at the age of 70 after a life-time of eating a diet that was high in sugar and she found it almost impossible to change her way of life. [ 67 secs ]

 
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01 Born 1964. 2 brothers, 2 sisters, parents teachers. State schooling. Older brother Tom diagnosed in teens – hospital stay. Mother overwhelmed.
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02 I visited - 1973 – he was 13, I was 8. At home, diabetes dominated – diet guide, weighing food, syringe in spirit, insulin in fridge. I`d have liked more information.
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03 Mother felt guilty – treated Tom differently - I didn`t understand. We treated him differently. He was allowed angry behaviour.
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04 Brother afraid of sight loss - wanted to be painter. Aged 15, painted props for National Youth Theatre – learnt to cope with diabetes alone. Never discussed as family. Mother felt guilty. Older sister remembers he couldn`t climb stairs. Tom treated differently.
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05 Sister Anna diagnosed aged 16, 1982, when I was 18. Mother didn`t believe it. Anna knew. I`d seen effects on brother – anger (maybe caused by low sugars?) – felt terrible. Easier for Anna - parents knew more & more available. Tom & Anna reacted differently, physically & mentally.
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06 Tom - sugars low to protect eyes, hypos, hospital. Anna - less obvious, told off for high sugars. Anna having laser treatment. Tom`s eyes OK. Medical advances helped.
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07 We took Anna`s diagnosis less seriously.
We weren`t deprived of foods, but little sugar in house. Tom given diabetic sweets – learnt they were useless by Anna`s time. Mum didn`t feel guilty re Anna.
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08 1993 – friend`s daughter diagnosed - mother`s guilt same, technology different. I understood talk of food, sugar levels, injections. Decided to volunteer…
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09 Diabetes Association helpline. Training gave explanations for what already experienced. Could understand Tom & Anna`s frustrations at different approaches. No answer for disciplined person with high sugars or person with low sugars who gets complications. Nurse in same room as volunteers.
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10 Training included foot clinic visit – poverty, terrible feet. Tom & Anna had always looked for information.
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11 ‘96/`97, midwife trainer talked re good & bad diabetics. Sister told off when sugars high. Tom & Anna feel ‘on trial` with doctors. Tom`s diabetic son treated perfectly – not good or bad, not special.
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12 Friend`s daughter & nephew both 14. Helped by changes in technology & attitudes. Nephew has fewer sweets. Harder for friend because knew less than Tom.
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13 Met mother-in-law ‘96/`97 – Type 2 undiagnosed for ages. Couldn`t keep to diet. Husband gave blood tests & administered tablets. Later insulin helped. Losing eyesight in last year of life.
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14 Type 2 for 10 years from diagnosis in 1996. Hard to change at 70 – damaged eyes – couldn`t live without reading.
Tom`s diabetes now dominates less, Anna`s more. Both let people know about it, but doesn`t run them.
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Transcript
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