Our diabetes team at Scunthorpe hospital has recognised the amazing courage and perseverance of a patient who has been living with diabetes for more than 80 years.
Christine Dent, who lives in Scunthorpe, was three when she was diagnosed with type one diabetes. She has been under the local hospital for the last 82 years!
Christine (85) said she can remember vividly when she was diagnosed: “I remember lying in a cot on the children’s ward and someone coming in with a syringe. My memories back then were of injections, and the noise the metal syringe used to make.
“It was a nightmare. I took the news very badly. I had terrible nightmares and would scream out in the night, waking the neighbours. I didn’t speak for three years, not even to my parents.
Living with diabetes back in the 1940s was very different to today. Insulin was injected using large, long needles and you had to eat specific foods, at times of the day prescribed by your doctor.
Christine said: “I remember saying to my mum, please no, no more injections I am all better now. However, as I got older it got easier and I went on to get married, have my son Timothy, and learn to live with it.”
On being presented with her medal, Christine said: “I didn’t get this far on my own. This hospital is like my hospital. I have been coming here almost all my life. The staff are wonderful, and I know I can just pick up the phone and ask for advice anytime.”
Paul Dromgoole, Diabetes Specialist Nurse, said: “Living with diabetes for 80 years is a real achievement, which is why we wrote to Diabetes UK to request a medal for Christine to mark the magnificent milestone.
“It was only 100 years ago that insulin came on the scene. Prior to this ground-breaking treatment, type one diabetes was pretty much a death sentence as there wasn’t any effective treatment for people.
“Even with insulin, Christine would have faced a very strict regime when she was first diagnosed with her doctors dictating when she ate and what she ate. She wasn’t allowed to even save a bit of bread from breakfast to eat as a snack, it was forbidden.
“Technology is changing all the time. We now have sensors which patients wear on their arms. It links to a mobile phone, enabling them to easily monitor their blood glucose levels. It even allows us to periodically ‘check in’ on them by looking at real time data. And, in Christine’s case, the tech sends an alert to her son if her levels go too high or low, so he can give her a call to make sure she is ok.”
Paul said this new tech was helping people manage their diabetes far better than ever before, keeping them out of hospital.
Staff from the Diabetes Centre gathered to present Christine with her medal. They took the time to reminisce how care had changed over the years having dug out an old cookery book from 1945, some of the old metal and glass syringes, as well as an old eating plan from 1952.
Medals are awarded for 50, 60, 70 and 80 years. Details of the individual medal are below. Clare Howarth, Head of the North of England at Diabetes UK, said:“What an inspiration Christine is. Diabetes is a serious condition which can bring incredible difficulties for those who live with it. Christine’s story illustrates how far we’ve come with diabetes care and treatment and I’m sure will bring hope and inspiration to so many people living with diabetes, whether newly diagnosed or living with the condition for decades. It’s our privilege to be able to give her the HG Wells Medal. Congratulations Christine.”