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2017 Kellion Medal

50 years

Presented at 64th Annual General Meeting of The Diabetic Association of South Australia Inc. Tuesday 24 October 2017, 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 2016/2017, including:

Leon Dorsett

50-Leon-DorsettIn January 1967 after finishing high school, and working in my first job as a Laboratory Technician for 1 year, my best friend and I decided to drive to Queensland on a 3 week holiday. On the trip we shared the driving and camped out along the way in a tent. We also lived on a wonderful diet of pies and pasties, fish and chips, and other easy (junk) food most of the time.

It was rather strange at the time that I was constantly hungry and thirsty throughout the trip, and we needed to frequently stop so I could urinate. Also, it was somewhat of a worry that I also felt constantly very tired. This was concerning because I was almost nodding off while driving, so my friend needed to take over more often than usual.

On arriving back in Adelaide my mother noticed that I had lost a lot of weight and did not look well at all. My weight had gone from around 11.5 stone down to 9.5 stone. After considerable effort she convinced me to see our local doctor. A Glucose tolerance test confirmed that I was suffering from type 1 Diabetes and I was immediately admitted to the Memorial Hospital in Adelaide where I spent a further 3 weeks being stabilised and learning how to administer insulin to myself – initially by injecting into an orange.

I was prescribed a mixture of slow acting Ultralente and Semi-Lente insulin to be administered once a day in the morning. Being a fairly rebellious young teenager at the time I was not very responsible in relation to doing regular checks of my sugar levels, as the test methods were not terribly reliable in those days. Common testing back then was urine testing, which was not really very accurate.

However, I managed to get by without any real problems for quite a few years. I did of course change my diet by eating more healthier foods and counting the portions I was allowed for each meal. Also, for a while after I was diagnosed I gave my mother a hard time by blaming her for bringing us up on a very unhealthy fatty diet. I also recall another contributing factor was sitting down studying for exams and bingeing on sweets.

Furthermore, I remember allowing myself to get very stressed prior to attending my University exams. Clearly these things played a role in triggering my diabetes. Also, my grandmother on my mother’s side of the family died with diabetes, so there seemed to be a genetic contribution to my condition.

I recall that when I met my wife Jenny in 1971 I told her that when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, the doctors at the time had said that I would probably have a relatively normal life until about the age of 40, but complications related to diabetes would mean that I most likely would not survive too much longer than that age. This didn’t seem to worry her – in fact she simply wanted to know more about the condition.

At around the age of 30, with the support of my wife, I went on the Pritikin diet, which was fairly popular at the time, and also starting regular exercising, particularly long-distance running. I found that I was able to cut my daily insulin intake by almost 50% and get much better control of my BSL.

I continued this insulin and a less strict diet until 2003 when I was 53 years old. For most of the time I managed reasonably well, although I was becoming increasingly concerned by having more “hypo” episodes. Over a period of around 6 years I suffered 4 serious hypo’s where I needed to be taken by ambulance to hospital.

Things could have been more serious if it wasn’t for my wife being fully aware of my symptoms and calling an ambulance. The last admission was the final straw and I was referred to Dr Tony Roberts, as it was clear that my insulin regime was not working properly anymore.

Dr Roberts changed my insulin to Novo Rapid which I was to administer 3 times a day before meals, and Protophane slow acting once a day before bed. This was found to give much better control of my blood sugar levels, particularly as I could readily alter the amount of Insulin administered by regularly checking my BSL.

By this time also there were much more accurate testing kits for measuring blood sugar levels. For the past 14 years I have been on Novo-Rapid and Protophane and have not had any real problems with control.

Regular blood chemistry and HbA1c tests have been showing relatively good results, and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come. One thing I have found in recent years is that my body’s reaction to low blood sugar readings have been quite different in that I can still function for extended periods without any loss of the ability to communicate and think rationally, and thus have time to fix the problem by ingesting something sweet to rectify the situation.

I have now been retired for around 12 months after working as an IT Systems Analyst at a Chemical Company for the last 13 years and I am looking forward to a long and happy retirement with hopefully very few health problems.

Back to 2016/2017 Kellion Victory Medal Recipients

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