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2016 Kellion Medal

50 years

Presented at 63rd Annual General Meeting of The Diabetic Association of South Australia Inc. Tuesday 25 October 2016, 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 Recipients for 2015/2016, including:

Jillian Owens

jillian owensI was born in Broken Hill in October 1952 and lived there until I was 22. In the early part of 1965 I started showing signs of diabetes, although my parents and I didn’t know it was that at the time. My teachers told my mother that I was always tired and I remember nearly falling asleep in class. Towards the end of that year I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

I was not admitted to hospital for stabilisation, and my GP managed my diabetes. I feel that I would have benefitted from being admitted, and not doing so hindered me in my understanding of the disease and coming to terms with it. There was no diabetes association in Broken Hill and no-one I could really talk to about the disease. My GP’s involvement was minimal. I think that I felt the diabetes was not a “big deal” and remember feeling annoyed with my mother who was always worrying about me, stressing about eating regularly and at the same time every day, and measuring every “portion” to the exact ounce.

Thinking back to how things were done then in regards to managing diabetes, I wonder how I survived! There were no ultra-fine needles, insulin pumps or pens and blood glucose monitoring machines (therefore the inability to download the results to a computer in order to obtain an overall view of the diabetes management).

My memory regarding dealing with diabetes whilst at school is vague, but I do not remember having any problems or having to stay at home because of it. I played sport at school and after I’d left school, again without any problems that I can remember. I do not remember having any hypos.

I started work as a secretary at one of the mines in 1970, aged 18. About this time I started to rebel against the diabetes and did not manage it very well.

I moved to Adelaide in 1974 and continued to mismanage my diabetes. After about a year in Adelaide, I was admitted to the RAH with ketoacidosis. This acted as a wake-up call and I then started taking better care of myself.

Over later years I started having severe hypos fairly frequently, and for some reason quite often on Christmas Day! I think my delayed gastric emptying added to this problem. The hypos were particularly frightening when they occurred whilst I was driving, and I do not know how I didn’t injure myself or other people on several occasions. I eventually realised it was no longer safe for me to drive, so I gave up my licence and sold my car. These severe hypos also occurred at work and caused distress for my colleagues. I used an insulin pump for a short time many years ago, but did not find it beneficial and stopped using it.

I retired in 2012 and around the same time changed my glucose monitoring machine to a Freestyle InsuLinx. My hypos virtually stopped and when I did have one, they were very mild and did not affect me to any great degree. This has continued ever since and my diabetes is now well controlled. I do volunteer work once a week, go to the gym twice a week and do lots of walking. I only have very minor complications arising from the diabetes and do not require any treatment for them.

My journey has been long and sometimes hard, but the advances made in the past few years have given me hope that there will be ongoing improvements in the treatment of diabetes, and maybe even a cure.

Back to 2015/2016 Kellion Victory Medal Recipients

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