I remember the great scene in the movie Titanic. Kate Winslet’s character, Rose, lays down at the end of her life and the camera pans her many photographs of the great experiences on the mantle that Rose had in her life after surviving the evening of hell, when Titanic sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The fictitious character survived and thrived despite such adversity.
Meet Winsome Johnston from New Zealand, if your children have diabetes; introduce them to her also. Mrs. Johnston is the longest living person with T1 diabetes in the world. The 84-year-old woman survived what must have been a living hell years ago when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6; the quick math will tell you that she has had diabetes for 78 years.
The ways and methodologies of how diabetes was treated years ago were so much different from the way it is treated today. Insulin was barely a few years old when she was diagnosed, needles were 4-6 inches long, were used over and over again and were sharpened on a stone. Glucometers? Um….. no…… they were nowhere near even being invented yet, everything was archaic compared to today’s available management help.
There are a few things Mrs. Johnston might be able to teach all of us.
As many have said, it is not diabetes that causes complications; it is diabetes out of control. Ms. Johnston is living proof of this statement. “I was determined in those days to do what I wanted and hopefully it would help me with the little bit of knowledge that I had.” Surely she is a living example that diabetes should prevent no one from anything.
She was told that kids would almost be out of the question. Four children (twins too), eight grandchildren, and seven great grand children (and another on the way) later, this incredible woman continues in her every day routine.
She has never missed an appointment in the eight years she has been at her most recent practice and she lived by her own philosophy, “Unmanaged diabetes can shorten your life”, she shared with News 3 in New Zealand. (see the video here, where I heard this story).
The next time your child asks you why management is so important, share with them this incredible story of Winsome Johnston; a woman who is still not done adding pictures of great experiences to that mantle.
I am a diabetesdad.