"My story begins in October 1953 when I first taken ill and was diagnosed with appendicitis aged nine years. I can remember lying on my grans settee in pain. From then on it is a blank.
I was told by a nursing sister who became a family friend and helped me immensely, I owe my life to her diligence. I was on the Children’s Ward when as she was chatting to her close friend who happened to be ward sister she asked if there was a diabetic on the ward because she noticed the characteristic odour of pears (sign of diabetes).
A consultant had been on the ward a short while before and never noticed it. I was actually an undiagnosed diabetic with Ketoacidosis and my life was in danger - by this time I was unconscious. The next thing I remember was waking up on the Female Medical Ward. I was so ill that my veins had collapsed and for a while I was on drips. (A sick note was issued and my father who was a Merchant Navy Officer was called home from abroad).
From 1953 to 2006 I was on two injections a day, counting everything in ounces with a very strict diet of four meals and regular snacks.This meant I was not allowed (by my parents) to enjoy life as a child growing up. During my adolescence I spent a great deal of time in hospital (up to six weeks at a time) because they were unable to control my diabetes.
I eventually married in 1979 and was still not controlled. As a result of this two weeks after my marriage I started to lose my sight. Thankfully we have an excellent Eye Department at the R.V.I. Newcastle and following surgery on both eyes (retinopathy). One retina completely detached and the other partially detached I am now registered sight impaired.
I am lucky to have sight, enough to get around and enjoy going on holiday several times a year. If it was not for the surgeon I would be totally blind. I have to take care and have regular check-ups.
In 2006 I decided to see if I could go on a DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) course. I had heard and read about this type of treatment for Type One diabetes, but always put off but now thought this could help me. I enrolled on a course in January 2006 and was terrified. Right up to the day when I walked into the course I was terrified and very nearly did not attend.
I have never regretted the move. The course lasted for five full days and was held at the local Diabetes Centre. This consisted of in depth lectures and training session which were all tailored to individuals requirements.
We were taught how to gauge the amounts of carbohydrates we would be eating per meal and match the amount of insulin units to these (one unit to one carb). Over the week we were also taught how to calculate the number of carbs in home cooking such as cakes, pasta etc. By the end of the week we were all very much more confident. From time to time Refresher Courses are held to keep us up to date.
The Dafne regime means that you must have two background injections (one first thing and one last thing every day and also an injection of quick acting to match the carbs you eat at each meal or snack (four or more a day). This may sound a lot of injections and can be embarrassing when away from home but it is worth it to have your health and control. When I am away I always explain to the person I am sitting next to about my diabetes and I have never had any trouble.
Since being on this course my diabetes has been much better controlled and my HBA1'c has been significantly reduced. This has meant my general health has also improved and most of the time my weight has been reduced.
Whilst I am on holiday, the injections do not cause me any trouble and there has been a significant reduction in my hypos. Part of the training we were given was to recognize the beginning of a hypo and act accordingly. Life is certainly full now. I cannot wait to start travelling in a few weeks."
Words by Rose