A few weeks have passed since we celebrated the traditional ‘Harvest Festival’ mostly within schools and Churches. Not forgetting the hard-working farmers who harvest the crops required for our shops all over the World.
This year my daughter invited me to attend my grandchildren’s local Methodist Church who was holding an event with a World War 2 theme, showing just how people managed through the war years. My grandchildren found it awe-inspiring getting involved with the various quizzes and looking at all the objects that were totally foreign to their young eyes. Especially delighted to hear that their grandma knew how to knit, crochet and sew this brought about a raft of giggles.
For me I spied a ‘rag rug’, joyous memories of my childhood and my grandparents came flooding back, the event had been laid out in a way that both young and old could try their hand at learning new skills. So armed with the appropriate backing and rags I sat at a table with an older lady, not dissimilar in looks to my dear old Nan.
We sat talking she showing and teaching me this new skill just generally chit-chatting with her about my memories of rag rugs and how I had always wondered how they were made. In the conversation she told me that her eyesight was poor and how she had had operations and laser, all I could think was she has diabetes but said nothing.
She then began telling me about as a young woman on meeting marrying and having her family she was diagnosed with diabetes. In the early 1950’s at the start of the NHS. She had 2 small children and she felt it was her pregnancy that had brought on ‘the diabetes’.
She then went on to tell me the tale of how she was diagnosed, she told me how she had started being very thirsty and going toilet more often than normal. Much to her delight, she lost a large amount of weight really quickly but she was so tired and felt terrible. So she went to the doctors who took a urine sample and tested it finding she had diabetes. He sent her home to pack a bag for her to go to the hospital.
She went looking for her mum, as she was upset and worried but she wasn’t in. She bumped into a neighbour who took her in and gave her a cup of sweet tea, cake, and chocolate, we sat and laughed.
She then went on to tell me how she had to be in the hospital for a week and wasn’t able to see her children who were fretting for their mum not able to go home until she has ‘an event’ (a hypo or low blood sugar).
When she went home she was given a glass syringe, needle and equipment to test her urine for sugar. On her first night home she put her injecting equipment in the pan to boil up and sterilise it. She forgot to separate the syringe and plunger which cracked but she still managed to administer her insulin. She got a new one from the Doctors the next day.
I told her the tale of the patient who arrived at the Preston Diabetes Centre in the late 1990’s with a pristine glass syringe and needle that she had been self sterilising at home because no one had informed her that we now prescribed plastic syringes free to those with diabetes.
I enjoyed that Sunday afternoon with this Lady reminiscing about her life and her diabetes, we parted with a hug.
We have come so far, since those early days?
Sometimes we forget that Drs Banting and Best discovered insulin not quite a hundred years ago, 1922 the first insulin injection was given to a 14 year old boy.
We now have so many variations, started out with animal insulins now genetically engineered.
Administrations and regimes for insulins have changed to suit a person lifestyle.
With advanced developments in insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring. The latest research looking into stem cell replacement and not 100 years has yet passed.