All of us have a special memory about our time with diabetes. My biggest memories of course, have to do with the diagnosis. Belfast, N. Ireland, Sept. 09, 1984. I’d been feeling pretty crappy and finally, on that Sunday afternoon, me and my (now ex) husband walked over to the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Casualty department to get this looked over.
> I remember the little, blonde lady doctor telling me in her soft English accent that they are admitting me.
> I remember being rushed up to the endocrinology ward and remember the first thought in my head, voicing it aloud: “Will I be on pills, then?” After all I was 28! This stuff happened to kids, right? Nope. Straight onto shots.
> I remember wanting at the very least a cup of black tea. No way! NOTHING for the rest of the day.
> I remember being embarrassed as I was very sick and threw up. I hated the thought of nurses cleaning up my mess and tried to not be a bother.
But, they did not mind. In fact they kept assuring me it was not my fault, it was ‘no bother at all’! After that was over and the evening settled in, I fell asleep as the fluids went into my IV.
A week later, I was about to be discharged. They gave me a letter for my GP, a bag of ‘Goodies’… Yeah. right. Glass syringe, needles in a packet of ten, and a few vials of insulin. A Clinitest kit and log book. A form about the home visitation nurse who would come see me. The Sister called my Husband to come meet me and I could go home.
As I was waiting for him, a woman came into the ward, making a beeline straight to a bed in the corner and they pulled a curtain around her. I asked one of the nurses what the heck was happening. “Oh, no problems,” She told me quietly. “She’s using a devise called an insulin pump and just came in for a check on it.” I must have look scared for her to divulge this.
WELL!! That started me on a quest for this device!! It made total sense! I had been reading about this stuff during my week ‘in house’, and knew the theory about insulin pumping! Why wasn’t it a normal item for all of us who had to inject this hormone? I was told it wasn’t covered on the National Health then, (even today it is not a common practice to offer it) unless one was having awful issues, or females hoping to become a mother and needed the tight control this would help to achieve.
I went home, put up with learning about my new life. My parents in the USA sent me money to buy a glucose meter, an AMES Glucometer. I was like the Artful Dodger with the chemists and doctors, finagling test strips and disposable insulin syringes. After a time, efforts by the British Diabetes Association and other factors for IV drug users at the time, made these niceties available on the NHS. Life with diabetes went on as normal for a little under a decade, I’d gone to the insulin Pens and meters got upgraded, etc. In 1989, I got divorced. Nothing bad, he was just too young and when he tried to blame it on my diabetes and eyesight, I realized what a sad guy he was.
Then, in 1992, my mother passed away after some failing health and I packed my stuff and was set to move home. My GP then gave me a MASSIVE prescription for insulins and new pens, needles etc. I had these filled there and took all that back home with me, most likely looking like a Pharma rep from Novo-Nordisc. I stayed with my dad and we had our memorial for mom.
I went back to sell up my furniture, get my dog, Toby ready to move to the ‘States and make my return to the USA permanent. I went by the GP and diabetes clinic to say my farewells, got letters etc. When I came back…. with more insulin and such, I found the adjustment hard. Most insurances were denying me because of the pre-existing condition and I was doing my darndest to get a job. No takers. It was wonderful that I had all that insulin and such to keep me going for a couple of years!
I finally had to go to the SSA and apply for help. I got it based on being visually impaired, and got Medicaid. AGAIN I asked about this “Insulin Pump” I still held a hope of getting. No dice. They don’t cover it. So my biggest memory other than diagnosis was when I did, in fact, buy a secondhand pump kit. The makers of the pump really stepped up and made a lot of adjustments for me to work this, training me in my normal clinic, They did a TS on the pump I bought, sent me “Samples” of the supplies I would need and other bits of help. I hooked up at home with the phone numbers of my Endo and CDE. We were totally going out of the box, but I did it! These folks who helped me in 1994 are still around, I still see one of them as a friend, but most have moved away.
Having that trust and those people believing in me, then, when the Medi-Cal system changed and the insulin pump was now covered, my case-workers always there to help me out as I wove my way through government health care were priceless! I got into computers in 2000, and studied nutrition and allied health at our local community college. All to the betterment of life within and without diabetes
Mainly, I can say my memories have all been significant. All of them involve people who had my back! All of these people have kept me sane and well, actually. I will be forever grateful that they shared my life.
With all of this, HOW can I choose “Just One Memory”? I cannot.