People with Diabetes
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Mary (right) around time of diagnosis

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Mary (right) around time of diagnosis Mary, 2004
 
 
Interview 25 Mary

Person with diabetes and healthcare professional
Born in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire in 1954.
Diagnosed Type 1 in Nantwich, Cheshire in 1967


Overview: Mary`s father was a baker and her mother a factory worker. When she was diagnosed, the hospital suggested that they should buy a book on diabetes by R.D. Lawrence, but she doesn`t think they read it. She feels she was given very little information, and remembers thinking that her diabetes might disappear when she began to have periods at 15. She made little effort to control her diabetes until she went to a clinic in Oxford in 1983. She works as a podiatrist and reckons that about 75% of her patients have diabetes

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 11 November 2004

 Short samples

1 She was 13 when she was diagnosed and embarrassed by anything that made her seem different from other teenagers. But she felt that neither her mother nor her school were at all sensitive to her embarrassment [ 59 secs ]

2 She had poor control for many years, but has had few problems. Meanwhile, as a podiatrist, she sees diabetics of her own age with many more complications, who had a far less “misspent youth”. She has commented on this to medical colleagues [ 57 secs ]

 
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01 Born Cheshire, 1954. Father baker, mother factory-worker. Family diabetes.
Eyesight deteriorating, 1967, then too ill for school.
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02 GP said return after weekend. Called another doctor. In hospital, relatives thought I was dying. Ward sister rebuked parents for allowing coma. In for 2 weeks. Injected orange.
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03 Mother practised injecting. People thought diabetics only adults. No more sweets. Told sight would return. Off school 6 weeks. Recommended Lawrence Line diet. No help given. Hated urine testing. Mother fabricated results.
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04 For years only diabetic in school. Mother extreme re diet. Singled out - extra food before PE, separate lunch table. Moved to F.E. College at 16. Mother insisted I take snack to discos. Disobeyed.
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05 Thought diabetes might go when periods started. While in FE & nurse training, disobeyed mother`s diet. Parents didn`t read Line diet book. GP threatened no school cruise, but consultant allowed. Battle with mother to see consultant alone.
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06 Parents argued re diet expense. Hated diabetic products. Left home at 18. Took insulin, but no other control. Didn`t test urine. Hospital blood tests high. Took no notice. Put on weight.
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07 Never unhealthy. Couldn`t join Navy. Thought “Why Me?”. Now think “Why not?”. Told boyfriends - no problem.
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08 Trained to nurse mentally handicapped. At 19, travelled with boyfriend. Signed on – refused disabled classification. Hospital blood tests. Refused to do urine tests.
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09 Married mid 1970s. Trained as podiatrist, Manchester. No attempt at control. Doctor threatened blindness or loss of feet. Consultant told of man who…
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10 …had more problems after improving behaviour. Consultant said “You know most”. As podiatrist, treated diabetic amputees. Never bothered me until older. Should research how diabetes affects personality: no psychological help.
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11 Now specialist nurses. Don`t know mine. Adults` evenings, adolescent clinics don`t work – staff don`t understand our lives.
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12 Marriage broke up. Moved to Oxford `83 – medics listened more. Bought blood testing machine. More effort to control.
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13 Doctor called me “naughty”. Plastic syringes. Told surgical swab unnecessary - I said not used one for 10 years.
After move to Oxford, met present partner. Paid more attention to diabetes. With better control, more hypos…
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14 but without, long-term problems. Difficult to get provisional driving licence. Took disabled driving test.
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15 With previous partner, no contraceptives, no pregnancy. With present partner got pregnant. Serious hypo. Partner learnt more re diabetes. My blood testing technique poor. In hospital 2 weeks before baby born 1985…
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16 …tried induction. Emergency caesarean. Baby died. Good hospital support. Pregnant again 3 years later…
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17 …hadn`t used contraception. Fertility drug. Made sure diabetes controlled. Hypos in pregnancy. Well supported. Elective caesarean. Daughter, now 16, born healthy. Afterwards ward staff ignorant re diabetes. Breastfeeding allowed. Wound healed.
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18 3rd pregnancy unplanned. Good control. 2nd daughter born healthy.
Admitted to A & E unconscious.
When baby 8 or 9 months, pregnant again. Termination…
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19 Supported by doctors.
Once stopped breastfeeding, well controlled. 2 hypos observed by daughter.
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20 Educated daughters re diabetes. Partner great – injects me during hypo. Mother diagnosed 2 years ago.
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21 Rebuked sister when wanted sterilisation partly to avoid diabetes.
In past, ate what like without adjusting insulin. 4 or 5 years ago dietician helped me lose weight & taught re adjusting insulin. Avoid obsession.
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22 Dietician gave diet I could keep. Insulin 4 times daily helped - fewer snacks. Said I wouldn`t exercise. Lost over 2 stone in 2 years. Don`t diet now, but careful.
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23 Dietician advised eat less, exercise more. Cycling, but no exercise regime – life regimented enough.
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24 Keep to insulin regime, but hard when at work. Find bed-time injection intrusive.
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25 75% of my patients diabetic. Told them re mine. Seen people worse off, despite my misspent youth. Fortunate – slight retinopathy, no kidney or circulation problems.
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26 No neuropathy. Need to research why some people have fewer problems. Doctor who said “naughty” said carry on - blood sugars OK.
Doctors less “us and them”: one said “you know more”…
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27 …So why come here?!
Progress made in equipment etc. Still meet ill-informed diabetics. Now allowed sugar.
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28 More medics know re diabetes. Public unsure. Chemists offer tests.
Diabetes made me less shy. Wouldn`t have rebelled so much without it?
Slight retinopathy.
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29 Have never worried re diabetes. Medics asked me to speak to others – difficult because every diabetic different.
Advice: don`t stop doing anything – I`ve travelled. Give up smoking, unlike me,
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