Testimonial

Andy Lavender

United Kingdom
In my 54 years with diabetes I have never seen a clinician with the condition. It would be nice to have health professionals who know through lived experience what it is like to live with type 1 diabetes

How long have you been living with diabetes?

54 years

How were you diagnosed?

I was two years of age and had been drinking a lot and wetting the bed, something that apparently I didn't do. My mother called the GP who did a urine test and said I had diabetes.

How did your diagnosis affect your family or loved ones?

In 1968, things were very different than they are now. The impact on my parents was huge and the impact on my sister (much older than me) was to be present for the rest of my life. I spent many months in hospital becoming more unwell and this I was told was the hardest thing for my parents to see.

What are the most important things that have supported your diabetes care?

My parents in the early days, although I hated my dad who held me while my mother gave me injections. Back then needles and glass syringes were sterilised with boiling water and a needle lasted a week. I would also say Mr Hudson who was the consultant at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool when I was diagnosed. I believe he saved my life when my parents discharged me from the local hospital and took me to see him. In later years, I am also very grateful to a dietician who taught me to carb count.

What has living with diabetes taught you the most?

This is difficult to answer as all my life I have hated diabetes with every cell in my body. I initially thought that it hasn't taught me anything, but I have learnt to appreciate the advances in technology and what they mean. I am also appreciative of the things that diabetes will eventually take from me, like my eyesight, and take nothing for granted.

What has been your lowest point with diabetes?

My lowest point was in my 30s. No education, feeling lost and very much alone, with no other people with diabetes to talk to. It got to the point of wanting to end my life because I could no longer cope.

Have you ever experienced issues accessing diabetes medicines, supplies and care?

No, I have been very lucky on that front.

What would you like to see change in diabetes over the next 100 years?

A cure, no more diabetes.

What do you think needs to change to improve the lives of people living with diabetes in your country?

I am very lucky. I live in the UK and have the National Health System (NHS) and am very much aware of how privileged I am to have that. However, in my 54 years of living with diabetes I have never seen a clinician with the condition. It would be nice to have health professionals who know through lived experience what it is like to live with type 1 diabetes.

What does the centenary of insulin mean to you?

Put simply, life. Without insulin, I would have died when I was 2. I know people say it's the same drug that was used 100 years ago and that there has not been any major advancement since then, but to me it remains the greatest life-saving drug ever. I will always be grateful to those who discovered it.

Supported by