Family Members
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Mary with husband and daughter

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Mary with husband and daughter Joanne as chubby toddler Joanne before diagnosis
Joanne, thinner at age of diagnosis Joanne aged 8 at diabetic camp Joanne starting secondary school
Mary Potter, 2007
 
 
Interview 79 Mary Potter

Family member
Born in Stourbridge in 1944.


Overview: Mary Potter`s daughter, Joanne, developed symptoms of diabetes in 1978, when she was five. Her GP refused to believe she had diabetes and Joanne nearly died. This traumatic beginning left a legacy of anxiety and anger. Mary noticed that another mother of a diabetic child was more laid-back than she was. She also noticed that when a niece was diagnosed around ten years later, there was much more specialist help and information available. Mary still sometimes accompanies Joanne to diabetic clinics. Joanne hates clinic visits because she feels that doctors treat her like a child and make her feel guilty.

There are also interviews with Mary Potter`s daughter, Joanne Pinfield, and with Joanne`s husband, Nick Pinfield.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 08 October 2007

 Short samples

1 In 1978 diabetic regimes were very strict, with fixed meal times and all carbohydrate weighed or measured. Mary found this hard to explain to a five-year-old whose older sister could eat anything while she had to go hungry. [ 59 secs ]

2 Mary found that no book adequately covered the reality of living with diabetes day by day – and that doctors only knew what was covered in books [ 60 secs ]

 
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01 Father army. I was born 1944. Educated England, then Cyprus. Started work at 15 – numerous jobs. Worked 5 years after marriage, then housewife plus evening jobs – 2 daughters – youngest, Joanne, has diabetes.
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02 Joanne healthy until 4, then ill. Thirsty, wet bed, lost weight, breath & urine smelt. Doctor said nothing wrong – “over-anxious parent”, advised giving Joanne medicine for anxiety.
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03 That night, Joanne very ill. Locum came, smelt breath, ambulance – almost in coma. Hospital doctors horrified by GP. Nearly lost Joanne.
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04 In hospital couple of weeks – to stabilise her & educate us – carbohydrate booklets, injecting orange. Paediatric ward – no specialists, no other child with diabetes.
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05 Return home frightening. Joanne hungry. Sister could have what she liked, Joanne couldn`t – had to make choices. Joanne said “It`s not right” – felt different at school. Teachers & mothers ignorant.
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06 Headmaster apprehensive. I said I`d do all 3 injections – bringing her home for lunch. She`d need snack at break – Head didn`t want to make allowances. I was angry. Health visitor saw him.
Joanne exploited illness to miss lessons. Hard to discern truth.
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07 Scalpel blood test or urine test – testing strips. Big syringes & needles – Joanne needle-phobic. Disposables arrived.
Measured food. Joanne had to make difficult choices.
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08 Aunt & mother had age-onset diabetes, but infantile different. Once fetched her from school & sent her to bed, thinking she was pretending – Had to use Glucagon, ambulance, guilt. Didn`t pretend much after that.
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09 1978-84, other illnesses affected diabetes – admitted to hospital. Doctors gave insulin, not glucose – ignored parents.
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10 A couple of years after diagnosis, met other mother of diabetic child – more laid-back than me, learnt more from her than from professionals – felt less guilty.
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11 While Joanne still at primary, DSN came – wonderful. Tried to persuade her to change to 2 injections. Joanne eventually agreed – to go on secondary school trip.
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12 Aged 7 or 8, went on BDA holiday – unhappy, but started to inject herself – still preferred someone else to do it.
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13 Secondary school field trip forced change to 2 injections. Joanne tried to hide diabetes. Teenage rebellion. Faked records for diabetic clinic.
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14 Youth training scheme - bought motorbike for journey – limited licence – until left home. She`s now responsible – attends clinic. Changes – injections, insulin diet. Injecting through clothing horrifies me!
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15 Told to use white spirit for years, then told it makes skin hard. Seeing injecting through clothing, I fear germs.
I`m still emotionally involved. I sometimes accompany her to clinic – she hates clinics – make her feel like child.
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16 Living with diabetes different from book. When sugars wrong, doctors blame parents. I got angry with good doctor – he admitted doctors follow text-book.
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17 Ignorance among family & friends. More known know.
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18 When niece diagnosed 10 years later, more support, specialists, information. Still mother asked me – frightening when alone. Doctors should imagine – not like textbook.
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Transcript
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