People with Diabetes
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On holiday just before diagnosis

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On holiday just before diagnosis Losing weight before diagnosis, 1979 Weight loss before diagnosis
Two years after diagnosis Gillian and her daughter, 2004
 
 
Interview 16 Gillian

Person with diabetes and family member
Born in Pangbourne, Berks in 1956.
Diagnosed Type 1 in London in 1979


Overview: Gillian was diagnosed when she was 23, while working as a journalist in London. At the age of 26, a consultant advised her that if she wanted children, it would be a good idea to have them soon, because "you`ve got to consider whether you`re going to see them grow up". Her partner didn`t want to be a father at that stage, so she decided to be a single parent and has brought up two children on her own. Her daughter was diagnosed with diabetes in 1999.

There is also an interview with Gillian`s son, Tom.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 25 August 2004

 Short samples

1 Gillian considers that her diabetes hasn’t caused her any major problems but, even so, she was devastated when her own daughter began to show classic symptoms [ 56 secs ]

2 Both she and here daughter have had serious hypos, but she is still very positive about the part that diabetes has played in her life [ 52 secs ]

 
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01 Born Pangbourne, mother wealthy, father working-class - rose to management. Father won Pools & we moved from council house. Mother secretary.
Bullied at grammar school. Went to Warwick University.
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02 Enjoyed Warwick, but had clinical depression & mystery virus – trigger for diabetes? No family history. Since diagnosis, 2 cousins had gestational diabetes.
Ran village post office for year. Then trainee trade journalist, London.
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03 Diagnosis: Thin in photos. Thirsty. GP, then Whittington Hospital. Glucose tolerance test & blood test.
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04 Nearly fortnight in hospital. Injected orange. Handwritten diet. Couldn`t cope. Deliberate hypo helpful. Later hypo – intravenous glucose wrongly administered.
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05 Blood test in hospital, not at home. Parents bought machine later. Outpatient blood tests – tried to deceive doctors. Home urine tests. Hospital old, but good consultant.
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06 Hospital staff & GP kind. I refused to let diabetes affect me. Drank beer, but healthy vegetarian diet. Injections like cleaning teeth.
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07 Minimal injection training. Boiled glass syringe & needle. In love with doctor. Relieved not cancer. Parents didn`t understand. Brother read about it. Colleagues accepted it. 1st time talked about it 2 years later with brother of children`s father.
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08 Diabetes had little impact in 20s, except 2 bad hypos. New Scientist article made me think I`d only live 20 more years. Brother reassuring.
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09 Nurse said pricking finger centrally will prevent reading Braille when blind. Consultant said have children soon to see them grow up. No emotional support.
I wanted children, but partner didn`t…
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10 …but I didn`t want anyone else as father. Decided to be single parent.
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11 Got pregnant. Diabetes under good control – accurate machines. Told partner he could leave, but he didn`t. Natural birth, unlike other girl at clinic: son born 1987.
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12 Had worked in trade journalism. Went freelance. Back to work 2 weeks after birth. Partner loved son & suggested buying house for his sake, but I decided to move without him to village near brother.
While breastfeeding…
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13 …frightening hypo in night. Ate more when breastfeeding after that.
Moved near Cambridge in 1988. Moved to Addenbrookes Hospital. Switched to human insulin – relief for vegetarian. HbA1cs good.
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14 Addenbrookes twice yearly. GP excellent – understood feeling that you can`t escape.
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15 Control not good in 2nd pregnancy: bad hypo. Addenbrookes good, but missed I was anaemic: ill throughout pregnancy. Typical diabetic baby, unlike son. Unable to cope.
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16 Single parent has no time for diabetes. Son aged 4 told to phone uncle if Mummy ill – too much responsibility.
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17 No problems in 1990s, but fear when eyes had floaters. Resent people who say I`m lucky not to have complications: not lucky to have diabetes. Fear of eye damage.
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18 Daughter diagnosed, 1999. Suppressed my knowledge that she must have it…
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19 …until she wet bed. I called on brother, sobbing. When son ill once, couldn`t face testing him. Tested daughter - & knew…
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20 Hospital said come in morning – lax? Saw sick children worse off than daughter. Kept in overnight. Showed injections. Hard to tell her it`s forever…
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21 “Only diabetes”. Daughter decided to inject herself so could stay with friend. Reluctant to test blood. Persuaded to change injection site. Not brilliant control. Hospital staff sensitive. Doctor said she`ll be healthier because of diet.
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22 Comparison of me, 1979, and daughter, 1999. Cool-looking pen; no boiling glass syringe; no surgical spirit on skin. Controlling by testing. Little blood. Time I spent in hospital pointless because in bed - no guide to control.
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23 Her insulin increased like mine. At school, new Head got her to give talk. Friends supportive, their parents willing to entertain her, despite comas.
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24 Daughter`s 2 terrifying comas. She has learnt from other children, some on diabetic camp. She & I reluctant to meet other diabetics, but I`d have benefited - & she loved camp: friends she met came to stay.
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25 She had fit in night. I couldn`t cope but 14-year-old son could & called ambulance.
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26 Paramedics marvellous. 2nd time similar, but came round more quickly. I couldn`t manage to inject her. Now son & I have trained, but I`d leave it to son. 2 other serious hypos.
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27 Medics no good at allowing you to talk re fears. My GP an exception.
Genetic guilt re daughter`s diabetes. Diabetic friends with good & bad experiences. Grateful diabetes has led me to make most of life. Positive re future.
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28 Improvement: medical staff recognise diabetic knows best.
Diabetes hasn`t stopped me doing anything, especially having children.
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Transcript
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Extras
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