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55 years living with Type 1 diabetes: Allan's story




Allan with his medal for 50 years of living with diabetes - and members of his diabetes care team - nurse Beth Mumford and dietician Vicky Oldham.


55 years with type diabetes: Allan’s story

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on 6 Feb 1967. I was 13 years old. I was taught how to inject myself by practising the technique on an orange.

I was drinking gallons of water or anything I could get my hands on and losing weight. My parents called our GP on a Friday because I was unwell. He came that day and examined me and told my parents to bring me to the surgery on Monday morning for a blood and urine test.

But on the Sunday, I was disorientated and ultimately ended up in a coma. My parents called 999 and I was taken to St Tydfil’s hospital Merthyr where I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I spent 14 weeks in hospital while they stabilised my blood sugar. I was put on one insulin injection a day and my diabetes team also talked to me about my diet and healthy eating.

In my first week back home I must have had about three or four hypos – one so bad my parents called 999. I was taken to Merthyr General hospital where I spent 12 weeks being stabilised again. This time, I was put on two injections a day. The worst was dinners in school - there were no blood meters to check your blood sugar, only urine tests, not like today. 

Over the years, I had some ups and downs with my diabetes and seeing different ways to cope with the condition and if it wasn’t for my wife, Susan, I might not be here now. She has helped me so much with my hypos and so have my children and friends. Make sure you tell someone you have diabetes.

The first syringe was glass. To sterilise it, you had to boil it before injecting. Then came the disposable syringe - they were much better. Next came the pen with smaller needles which was a godsend. 

In November 2015, I went on the DAFNE course (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) for a week at Prince Charles Hospital. This changed my way of coping with diabetes, my blood sugar level has never been so good. I would encourage anyone to go on the DAFNE course if you have the chance. You won’t be disappointed.

In 2017, I started a new chapter in treating my diabetes with no more injections by using the Insulin Pump 640G and has been marvellous

I’m now using a Libre and find it amazing. It has revolutionised the management of my diabetes.

I'm very active in the Cwmbach Diabetes Group, here in Wales and a supporter of Diabetes UK Cymru. The diabetes community online has been a lifeline during Covid-19. I spent most of the time shielding and couldn’t see my four children and 10 grandchildren very often. Now that I'm vaccinated, I'm feeling a lot happier.

I'm so grateful for having received the Alan Nabarro medal for my 50 years with diabetes. Now, you can live well with diabetes and be healthy for decades, which is fantastic and gives me an opportunity to share my experience and to support others.

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