Stories: Celebrating 40 Years

An abundance of support

Recently I was walking in the halls of St. Joseph's Hospital, London. The surroundings looked fresher than I remember them 59 years earlier. While walking, I suddenly realized that, almost to the day, in 1954, I was  being admitted to start a lifetime of taking insulin.

Sixty years ago I was a Grade 13 student. I suspected I was diabetic, which was quickly confirmed. Treatment in the 1950s certainly differed from 2013. I had been an active teenager. On becoming diabetic, I graduated to a very restrictive diet. I quickly became energy-less, inactive, hungry, always and effectively just existing. 

Glucose testing tabs for urine sugar levels, 1934.

Glucose testing for urine sugar 1934

One year later, 1954, I entered UWO [Western University]. Because of my lethargy I visited the university health clinic. Within a day I was under the care of Dr. Hugh McAlphine, an endocrinologist. Interestingly, his office was across the street from St. Joseph's at Richmond and Grosvenor. That afternoon I was admitted to the hospital. The good doctor said that he would have me eating well and active again toute de suite. After 10 days, I was back in the real world again and acting like a real person. Praise the lord for Hugh McAlpine and Frederick Banting.

Sixty years later I can think of my grandfathers, father and niece succumbing to the challenges of diabetes. Another strong memory is my father testing his urine every Sunday. He would combine urine and a chemical in a test tube and boil it over our gas stove. This told him what his urine sugar content was - state of the art at the time.

I compare all this to my basking in full life. I have an abundance of support from my family, doctors, the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Diabetes Education Centre [at St. Joseph's Hospital]. There is great support available for those who need it and want it. I'm a great believer that sweat and exercise are the best and cheapest forms of insulin.

Submitted by:

London, Ontario.

Last updated: Tue, 2013-12-03 11:46