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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 15:54 GMT
'How I live with diabetes'
diabetes
Penny has to inject insulin every day
Scientists have revealed spleen cell transplants could offer hope of a cure for diabetes.

Penny Gee was diagnosed with diabetes aged 28.

Here, she tells BBC News Online how it has affected her life. "I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 11 years ago.

"That was quite unusual - diabetes is usually early or late onset, but I was in the middle.

It took time to get back to how life was before
"My pancreas just stopped working.

"My personal symptoms were triggered by an auto-immune reaction after eating a bowl of garlic prawns, I had a severe allergic reaction.

"This was followed by lots of puzzling symptoms - stomach pains, pins and needles, dizziness, tiredness, dramatic weight loss and eventually severe thirst and going to the loo hundreds of times!

"At one point I thought I was having an ectopic pregnancy because my stomach pains were so bad.

"It took six months in all for all this to make sense and when I could hardly stand up due to such a high blood sugar reading my GP diagnosed me as having Type 1 diabetes.

"I was diagnosed, I was devastated because I hate blood and I hate needles.

"The doctors stabilised me really fast by putting me on an insulin drip."

'Scared'

Penny now has to inject herself with insulin twice a day.

"I was taught how to do it with an orange and an old fashioned syringe.

"Then, when I first had to do it to myself, it wasn't too bad, it didn't hurt too much.

"But it took time to get back to how life was before. I did feel like a bit of an invalid.

"And I was quite scared because my blood sugars could rise or fall and I would feel bad either way.

"It knocks your confidence because you didn't think about how you ate, or needing to have injections, before.

Penny's colleagues had to be instructed in how to help her if she had a hypoglycaemic attack because her blood sugar levels had fallen dangerously low.

Luckily, they never had to put their knowledge to use.

Eating well

Penny says living as a diabetic just means having to be more careful.

And when she was pregnant with her two children, she needed to check her blood sugar levels particularly carefully.

But she says day-to-day life is fine.

"I just have to make sure I eat regularly and take my insulin.

"And I always carry some glucose tablets and a drink around with me."

Penny needed special care while pregnant

"Most people think diabetics can't have sugars or chocolate.

"I do eat more healthily now, but if I eat a chocolate bar, I go to the gym and work the extra blood sugar out of my system."

But she says she would definitely have spleen cell injections to make her own pancreas work again.

"It's not difficult being a diabetic, but it is a chore.

"If I had that option, then I would certainly say yes - though I don't think it will be available in my lifetime."


SEE ALSO:
Hopes for diabetes cure
27 Jun 01  |  Health
Belly bug could treat diabetes
08 Sep 03  |  Science/Nature


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