MACLEAY Island resident Noela Rawlins has been honoured by the Queensland diabetes community at a Kellion Victory celebration to mark the start of National Diabetes Week.
Ms Rawlins was one of the guests of honour at the celebration in Brisbane on Sunday and received her medal from Dr Alan Stocks from the Kellion Diabetes Foundation.
“I have never really wanted a medal for living with diabetes all this time but I do want to thank the doctors, family, and friends who have been there for me,” she said.
Ms Rawlins was in her scholarship year during the August school holidays in 1958 when an aunt first noticed her diabetes symptoms.
“Those were the days of large needles and syringes kept in metho and rinsed in boiled water,” Ms Rawlins said.
“Eating meant diet with most food weighed and urine testing with Benedict’s solution in a test tube held over a little kerosene lamp.
“If it stayed blue it was good, green okay and orange or brown bad.”
Unlike type 2 diabetes, the onset of type 1 cannot be predicted or slowed through treatment or through diet or exercise.
It is an autoimmune condition, which results in the destruction of insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
A total of 22,974 Queenslanders have type 1 diabetes and must inject synthetic insulin several times every day.
Like all who live with type 1 diabetes, Ms Rawlins must balance levels of glucose in her bloodstream.
Careful attention is required to avoid hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) and the risk of ketoacidosis on one hand and on the other, hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) that can lead to a diabetic coma.
Celebrating with Ms Rawlins this National Diabetes Week were two other 60-year recipients and seven 50-year awardees.
“Over the years, I have seen many changes – strips for urine testing were great, then blood testing, and the progress from those old syringes through to pens with very fine needles,” she said.
“I also appreciate the huge effort that goes into diabetes research.
“I really hope that a vaccine becomes available soon, especially as I have two grandsons.”