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2014 Kellion Medal

75 years

Presented at 61st Annual General Meeting of The Diabetic Association of South Australia Inc. Tuesday 28 October 2014, 10.00am at Diabetes SA, 159 Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Hilton SA 5033. Click here to download a copy of the printed booklet.

Diabetes SA is proud to announce the Kellion Victory Medal Recipient for 2013/2014:

Michael Mathew

michael-mathewAfter living with diabetes for 75 years and now 85 years old with quite severe memory loss, my memories of living with diabetes is somewhat sketchy.

I was diagnosed when I was 10 years old, in September 1939 on the day that war was declared against Germany. I was hospitalised and 10 days later my father (who was in the army) tragically died in an unfortunate accident. Life was very difficult for us, especially for my mother - the war, diabetes, my father's death and two siblings, both enlisting in the army.

My mother and I moved to Cornwall to stay with my aunt. The doctor I was under had little or no experience of diabetes and I was allowed very little exercise and not allowed to go to school. The local school teacher set me lessons to do at home. I imagine life revolved very much around injections, urine testing for sugar and diet. At some point I landed up in hospital, my diabetes totally out of control. My mother was recommended to take me to see Dr. R.D. Lawrence in London. He was the leading diabetes specialist in the U.K. Dr. Lawrence soon had my diabetes under control, regulated my insulin injections and diet and he taught me to recognise symptoms of hypos and to live a normal life.

I was evacuated out of London to a school with quite a number of diabetic children, my memories of this period are almost nil. As my mother was nursing in London I went to boarding school for the rest of my school life. My main memories of these years is playing sport – rugby, cricket, tennis and also Scout camps. I had to give up rugby due to an injury to my leg, which took a long time to heal. I am sure that during these years my fellow students and teachers were kept busy coping with my blood sugars and hypos.

I finished school in 1948 and went to the London Dental Hospital School of Dental Surgery, having been advised against medicine – my first preference. During my undergraduate years I continued to play sport including squash and hockey. I qualified in 1954 and after working for a short time in a private practice, I went to St. Thomas Hospital Dental Department. While working there I met my future wife, Elizabeth, who was a nurse. We were married in 1956 and I joined a private dental practice in Salisbury, Wiltshire. A few years later I set up my own practice.

During 1968 – 69, having a large and young family (6 children), and due to difficult economic circumstances, we thought of moving to Australia. After a lot of thought and prayer and some heartache at leaving my family,
we sailed to Oz as 10 pound Poms. We settled in Minlaton on the Yorke Peninsula. The local District Council built a surgery for me and rented us a temporary house. A year later we bought our own home and number 7 child arrived. We spent 25 happy years there, sailing, swimming, good schools and wonderful people.

In 1995 I retired, health not so good and was diagnosed with severe pernicious anaemia, which affected my memory to some extent. We moved to Adelaide and settled into a busy retirement. Voluntary work, hospital visiting etc. My diabetic balance and health over the last 2 or so years, has been a bit erratic. I have had 2 heart attacks and am now banned from driving.

I have so much to be thankful for. The discipline of diabetes, my dear mother, who cared for me for 24 years (I'm sure I brought her much heartache at times). My wife of 58 years, who has coped with all my hypos and ups and downs, my family and my doctors and most of all I thank Dr. Lawrence and now Dr. Wilton Braund who copes with my current problems.

I hope that this story has given some indication that life with diabetes can be very good and it is possible to live a happy and active life.

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